As many celebrate in the U.S. through gender reveals, elaborate baby showers, and photo shoots… becoming a mother is a start of a new chapter in a woman’s life, while ending another. It’s a time to learn about strengths you didn’t know you had and fears you never deemed a part of your existence. If you’re black and pregnant, the delivery of your new bundle becomes a risky event. If you’re an adolescent and pregnant…it becomes even riskier.
The stories of many adolescents in developing regions today remain untold. This is unacceptable when approximately 12 million girls aged 15–19 years and at least 777,000 girls under 15 years give birth in these regions each year. Complications during these births and pregnancies are the leading cause of death for 15-19 year old girls globally. Furthermore, less documented…is the stigma placed on their backs.
In Eastern Africa, in the country of Uganda, this problem still remains the same. To date, the teenage pregnancy rate is 25%, making Uganda the possessor of one of the highest rates in sub-Suharan Africa. In communities marked by poverty and limited access to sex education, barriers to information, sexual and reproductive health services, and education persist. Many girls will leave school, as a result of being shunned. Some are married off, where they then face a higher risk of domestic violence. And some…are phoenixes rising out of ashes. Reborn every day, they rise….and they overcome.
Meet Nantale Proscovia, Project Director and the mother of two beautiful girls, from the Iganga district in Uganda. I met “Prossy” through +256 Youth Platform, a charity dedicated to empowering the youth of Uganda through non-formal education, employment and practical skills, and opportunity. Here, Prossy does a significant amount of sexual and reproductive health advocacy. Prossy, unapologetic in her own story, shares the stigma, many perceptions, and lived experiences of teenage mothers in the Iganga community of Uganda. Welcome, Prossy.
It's Flashback Friday!!! And today we are throwing it back to a little something different- a paper I wrote when I was fresh, new, and ready to dissect what feminism looked like for me. My path started with trying to understand more about black masculinity. What started as a joke...turned into a whole paper dissecting black men intertwined in one of my favorite things-black films. This paper below was submitted to my Advanced Composition class during college, in 2017. Enjoy!
Abstract: Black Masculinity in the film industry has been defined by drugs, capitalism, violence, and self-hatred. Black men became the primary focus of the film industry, beginning in the 1970s into the late 1990s, to sustain the industry and capitalize off the emotions of the black man after the civil rights movement. A content analysis of urban films in the early 2000s was conducted to compare if the portrayal of the black man differed from popular urban films in the 1990s. This study concludes that black men exhibit more signs of “maturation” and “success” in the early 2000s, as opposed to the 1990s. This shift pushed an ongoing, positive perspective and portrayal of “black masculinity” and what it means to be a black man in America today.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), an American is sexually assaulted every 73 seconds. Furthermore, on average each year, there is about 434,000 victims of rape and sexual assault. While sexual abuse knows no color, culture, occupation, zip code, or socioeconomic status...sexual abuse in the African American community runs rampant, yet remains one of our best-kept secrets. Being told to pray, keeping biases against mental counseling, and avoiding uncomfortable conversations such as this...fathers, uncles, pastors, step-siblings, cousins, doctors, law enforcement, celebrities, co-workers, and the like remain protected while victims remain lost, silent, and burdened with shame, guilt, trauma, and grief. I use the word 'victim' very carefully, realizing how harmful that label in itself can be. In this post, we do not see a victim. No. Here, we are faced with a survivor...an overcomer...and one of my loving friends, as she shares her story. So, let us lean in...whether you can relate, having beared the brunt of abuse...whether you're supporting a friend or family member on their healing journey...or whether you simply just don't know how to navigate abuse in communities and rape culture. This was just written for her...for you...for me...for everyone that's bottled up guilt, fears, and words we thought couldn't be shared...even in safe spaces. So, here's to the freedom that accompanies the truth set free....the healing between words unraveling in stories. Her too. Me too. Them too. Us too. Welcome, Tatyana. Thank you....and be free.
Preface: This post was from several nights and days reflecting on the lack of advancement in police education/training and police brutality towards Black and Brown persons in the United States and the intersectionality of Christianity. It takes a toll on my heart. These words to follow are in no way from a place of hate, but a place of concern and trepidation on what the future may hold for people that look like me in the future.
I took a trip to New York last fall and as we entered the National Museum of the American Indian to "use the bathroom", I noticed the disinterest among our group to actually learn the history bustling in the building. So, I started thinking. About yet another oppressed minority population in our country-Native Americans and Indigenous Women. And I learned that "indigenous" stretches far and wide outside of just the U.S. Indigenous populations comprise the entirety of our earth. And similar to black women, indigenous women suffer ugly realities all over the world daily. In fact, Cultural Survival notes that indigenous women and girls are murdered and disappear at an alarming rate. In efforts to learn more about indigenous populations, I reached out to Mr. Shaldon Ferris in South Africa, producer of Cultural Survival Indigenous Rights Radio. Welcome to Dialosophy, Mr. Ferris.
All across our country, abortion bans are sweeping our nation. These bans are attempt to take an ultimate hit at the famous 1973 case, Roe. vs. Wade. This U.S. Supreme Court case affirmed that access to safe and legal abortion is a constitutional right. With senators confirming extreme conservatives to essentially lifetime positions on the U.S.'s federal courts — including the Supreme Court — Roe v. Wade is at risk now unlike ever before. But, will we go back.
Nah. (Rosa Parks) We won't go back.
Meet SC HB3020. Today, we chat it up with Mac, who shares with us her own abortion story and the current House Bill that is residing in the Senate Medical Affairs Committee in South Carolina. South Carolina currently ranks 49th in the nation in healthcare for pregnant mothers and newborns, 49th in the number of midwives and Obstetricians / Gynecologists per capita[SC WREN], and 38th in the nation in infant mortality[SC WREN]. SC's maternal mortality rates are the 9th highest in the nation, and black mothers are more than four times more likely to die during pregnancy or in childbirth than white mothers.
Female genital mutilation, aka FGM, is a variety of procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. In many cultures, the practice is carried out by "traditional" circumcisers, who often play other central roles in communities. In many settings, health care providers perform FGM with the belief that the procedure is safer when medicalized1. The World Health Organization (WHO), however, strongly urges health professionals NOT to perform such procedures. Globally, FGM has been recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects an inequality between the sexes and can result in threats to a woman's health, security, and physical integrity. More than 200 million girls and women have been "cut" in 30 countries among Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Currently, FGM is deeply rooted in some parts of Kenyan cultures, and critics say the current policies outlawing FGM is not working. Today, we're talking to Miss Josephine Murgor, a Public Health Professional and Anti-FGM/Cutting Activist. The below Q&A discusses the cultural practice of FGM in Kenya, consequences, and what Kenya is doing to end this practice.
Uganda is an East African country, bordered by Tanzania and Kenya, and is home to nearly 36 million people. Uganda is notorious for its human rights abuses and military dictactorships, dating back to the 1970s. Furthermore, gender equality and women's rights in Uganda remains a persistent problem today. During my time in Uganda a year ago, I witnessed this first hand while taking the time to meet and listen to some of Uganda's strongest survivors. In this post, we're addressing sexual violence in Uganda and how one organization in Iganga, Uganda-Girly Network-is working to decrease stigma and encouraging survivors to share their stories. Let's meet Bush, a Communication Practitioner and volunteer with Girly Network. In this Q&A, Bush and I discuss his role as a "feminist", the prevalence of sexual violence in Uganda, and how readers (near and far) can take action to help.
Recognize the name? I was one of the many people who rallied behind Cyntoia Brown after reading about her case and the protests for her clemency. I had all the intention of writing a letter to Cyntoia after the facility address was leaked online. But, let's just say...my intention was a bust. So, maybe *fingers crossed*, Ms. Brown will read this one day and know..I, too, along with Kim...along with Rihanna...Snoop...LeBron, never gave up and never stopped thinking about her...and definitely, never stopped fighting. Cyntoia Brown (pictured below at graduation), after almost 16 years, will be released next week as a free woman.