On April 4, Reproaction was invited by Lincoln University’s STEM Alliance and Sociology Club to continue our Black Women in Activism series discussion on addressing racial health disparities as part of their Brown Bag Lecture series. I joined the president of Mid-Missouri’s Black Nurses Association, Felicia Anunoby, and executive director of operations for Building Community Bridges in Jefferson City, Alicia Edwards, in the hour-long exchange with the college students and community members present.
This particular discussion focused on racial disparities within domestic violence by centering the stories and concerns of Black women in the space. After Alicia Edwards opened the discussion by sharing her story as a survivor of domestic violence, the room lit up with stories and questions from the audience. Alicia provided context on how historical disadvantages that Black women have faced helped create the current disparities we see. Panelists also spoke about Missouri’s maternal and infant mortality crisis, emphasizing how the state is on par with the national average with Black women being three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications, regardless of wealth or education. That statistic hit home for several people in attendance who shared stories about people they knew. We also discussed the way HIV is criminalized by outdated laws in Missouri. This provoked an interesting dive into the lack of knowledge around HIV and AIDS, and how that impacts the interpersonal and structural treatment people living with HIV and AIDS receive.
I would like to give a special shout-out to Dr. Olivia Hetzler who worked so hard to encourage Lincoln University students to show up and made sure attendees had refreshments. I would also like to thank journalist Antoinette Miller for taking an interest in the abysmal maternal and infant mortality rates in this state and providing local news coverage on this event, which can be found here.
You can help us continue to advance these important discussions that uplift the work of Black women activists by staying tuned for future events in our Black Women in Activism series. Other ways to support this series and all of our work is to join our mailing list, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and support our work through donations.