How do you go from gumbo, crab cakes, deviled eggs, and roasted pork (possum?) to “soul food wasn’t nothin’ but salt and grease?” How do you go from a plant-based diet (yes, our ancestors, despite the drop ins of pork and other meats, ate a plant-based diet) rich in fruits and vegetables, light on meat (because, hey hey, they couldn’t afford it), and supplemented with unprocessed grain as a filler, to having some man in an Ivory Tower tell you that the reason your people don’t eat healthy food is because they have a hereditary slave palate that determines whether or not they are healthy eaters?
Let’s get something clear. Black Americans aren’t the only ones overweight in this country. Black Americans bought into the same swindle that the rest of the country bought into and were hurt even more because, while the rest of the country had enough money to pull itself out of the rabbit hole of processed food and obesity, Black Americans by and large did not. Two thirds of Black America may be fat, but guess what? Two thirds of America is fat, too.
Soul food is not to blame for our nutritional woes. A willingness to blame soul food for Black America’s current ailments resulted in complaints about “vegetables being boiled to death” replacing what used to be excitement for receiving a plate of braised string beans with corn bread. Why corn bread? Simple: the corn bread was used to sop up the “pot liquor” from the string beans. (“Pot liquor” is what’s left in the pot after vegetables have been treated. Studies – studies, mind you, that were done long after our ancestors were doing this – show that vegetables that are boiled actually have the vitamins and minerals boiled out of them, resulting in a vitamin-rich broth left in the pot after all the servings.
Hell, the corn bread of today isn’t even the corn bread of yesterday – is your corn meal organic? Your ancestors’ corn meal was. Is your corn meal from genetically modified, hyper-processed corn kernels? Your ancestors’ corn was not. Do you have a propensity for “sweet corn bread?” That’s neither a “North” nor a “South” thing – that’s a processed food thing. You can thank “Jiffy” for the popularity of sweet corn bread.
You can also thank processed food for the increase in saltiness in soul food, too. Sure, soul food always used cured pork, but it was used so sparingly (very rare was the occasion that a Black family had access to the “better” parts of the pig and, therefore, were reluctant to squander what they had access to by eating whole parts at a time.) that it would’ve never had the same effects it had today. (And, while there are studies out regarding hypertension in the early 1900s, there are far more mitigating factors in blood pressure than simply “salt” and “smoking.” Think “factory conditions,” for starters.
Excerpted from Neither Soul Food, Nor “Slave Food,” Made You Fat | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss
"African American women have disproportionately lacked health insurance and been affected by higher rates of poverty, as well as a variety of socioeconomic factors that contribute to a number of health disparities. As a result, five women die per day from breast cancer, make up a majority of all new HIV infections among women, and are three times more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy than white women. We celebrate Black History Month by honoring the voices of African American women who were polled on the best solutions to protect their own health and remedy health care disparities in their communities.”
via the Center for American Progress
Day 19 of White History Month: Medical Racism
The United States (along with other countries in the Western world) has a history of medical racism. The general population is unaware of the history of medical racism, and white health professionals are as well. John M. Hoberman of UT-Austin says that medical schools do not teach students about the history of medical racism, nor do they give them proper diversity training. Many Americans of color have grown to distrust medical professionals, and many white Americans attribute this to paranoia rather than their knowledge of historical and contemporary medical mistreatment.
Medical racism has often benefitted white Americans disproportionately while simultaneously harming Americans of color, as well as people of color outside of the United States. White Americans benefit from medical advances, while individual people of color were harmed, and in some cases, large groups of people of color have been harmed. From trying to “better” the race, to making scientific advances, white people have used and disregarded the rights people of color for their own benefit. Medical racism shows the lack of value ascribed to the bodies and lives of people of color.
The eugenics movement in the United States became very popular and manifested itself in many different ways. Anti-miscegenation laws, birth control, sterilization, forced abortions, forced pregnancies (of white women), and the promotion of higher birth rates for neurotypical white women. Eugenics policies were first instituted in the United States. Laws that advocated the sterilization of those with mental illnesses were in effect in the early 1900s, and soon spread to other countries.
Eugenics movements advocated for the eradication of those with mental illness, those who were homosexual, “promiscuous”, and most of all, those who were outside of the “Nordic” or “Aryan” race. Eugenics was advocated for by many famous white Westerners, including world leaders such as Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, and Calvin Coolidge.
While eugenics was highly unpopular after the Holocaust, the eugenics tradition of the United States actually provided the background for Nazi Medicine. While most people are aware to some extent what the horrors of Nazi medicine entailed, few people are aware of the American eugenics tradition that inspired it. Eugenics societies promoted “fit families” and “better babies” through awards at contests, but they also promoted harmful legislation barring immigrants and sterilizing “undesirable” people.
Controlling Reproductive Rights of Women of Color
Due to the eugenics movement, thousands of Black women were sterilized. In North Carolina, 7600 people were sterilized between 1929 and 1974, 85% of them women and girls, and a disproportionate number of them people of color (39% in the 1940s, 60% in the 1960s while making up only 25% of the population). The program that allowed for their sterilization was not eliminated fully until 2003. Black women were also sterilized without their consent in other states.
Puerto Rican Women
The United States has held Puerto Rico as a territory since 1898. As a solution to Puerto Rican economic problems, the US government felt that reducing the population of the Puerto Rican government would help. The US sterilized over one-third of Puerto Rican women, many uneducated and working class, between the 1930s and 1970s. Most of these women did not understand the procedure and did not know that it would render them sterile.
Additionally, the US used Puerto Rican women to test out birth control pills in the 1950s. These women were not informed that the pills were experimental - only that they would prevent pregnancy. They were not informed of the possible side effects ranging from nausea to possible death - three women died during the birth control pill trials. Women who reported side effects had their concerns dismissed by researchers.
Native American Women
Native American women who used the Indian Health Services were subject to numerous violations of their rights, particularly their reproductive rights. Some women who underwent procedures such as appendectomies would also have hysterectomies performed on them without their consent. At least 25 percent (and as high as 50 percent) of Native American women of reproductive age who used Indian Health Services were sterilized without their consent or after coercion. Largely white male doctors would use Native American women as “practice” for performing gynecological procedures on white women.
Tuskegee Experiment and Guatemala STD Experiment
In 1932, the Tuskegee Institute worked with the United States government to perform a study on a group of Black men with syphillis. The men were recruited to the study with promises of free meals, transportation to the clinic, medical exams and even treatment for minor medical concerns. The study lasted 40 years and involved the participation of over 600 Black men. This sounded like a good arrangement in theory, but researchers did not hold up their end of the bargain. By 1947, penicillin was widely used as treatment for syphillis. The researchers neglected to inform the men involved in the study in addition to refusing to treat the men.
As a result of the Tuskegee Experiment, nearly a hundred men died, and hundreds of partners and children were infected with the disease as well. Not only was this a breach of research ethics, as the participants did not give informed consent and were not treated for their ailment. The men and their families won a $9 million class action lawsuit in 1973, but this of course was not enough to make up for the damage that was done.
Similarly, the same researcher who uncovered the Tuskegee Syphillis experiment, Susan Reverby, discovered that a similar situation occured in Guatemala. The US Public Health Service and Pan American Sanitary Bureau worked with the Guatemalan government to do research on 1300 Guatemalans that involved intentionally exposing them to STDs.
The experiment involved many who are considered disposable in society - sex workers, mental patients, prisoners, and soldiers. Only 700 of these people were treated, and during the study 83 people died. Some of the most disturbing incidents during the study involved injecting epilepsy patients in the back of the head with syphillis, as well as the infection of a terminal illness patient with gonnorhea (she died six months later). The Guatemalans in the study also did not give informed consent.
Henrietta Lacks (1920 - 1951) was a Black woman who went to Johns Hopkins Hospital to be examined for serious medical concerns. After a biopsy was performed, she was diagnosed with and subsequently treated for cancer. While she was being treated, healthy and cancerous cells were removed from her cervix without her consent. She died in 1951, but the cells stolen from her body continued to be used. Though she died poor and was buried without a gravestone, her cells were used for many medical tests. From routine tests for human sensitivity to substances to the development of the Polio vaccine, her cells were used for medical advances. Her family only learned about the removal of her cells in the 1970s, and she is largely unknown despite the contributions to science she had made.
Current medical racism
Distrust of medical health professionals, along with racist attitudes probably contribute to medical health disparities. Racially linked anxiety disorders have been linked to racism at the hands of white people. A significant number of Black women report racism and sexism contributing to their stress and to stress-linked overeating.
Stressful life circumstances are reasons for hypertension and many mental health ailments. Working and middle class Black women who report multiple forms of discrimination are more likely to have high blood pressure than those who report fewer incidents. Black Americans who are more confrontational about racism are less likely to have elevated blood pressure than those who stay silent, which can be attributed to the effects of suppressed hostility.
Today, doctors still exhibit subconscious racist attitudes. A study in the American Journal of Public Health (March 2012) showed that a full two-thirds of the doctors in the sample were racially biased. White and Asian health professionals showed anti-Black bias, but Black health professionals showed no bias.
Doctors are more likely to speak more slowly to Black patients, extend their visits, and to lecture and talk down to them. This shows that the doctors are paternalistic and don’t care about respecting their patients or asking for their input
Additionally, white doctors are prone to giving worse care to patients of color, regardless of their income. People of color are less likely to get the diagnoses and treatment that they need, for everything ranging from heart disease medication, HIV treatment, and dialysis. Black women are the least likely to receive the pain medication that they need. Mental health professionals are less likely to diagnose people of color with an appropriate diagnosis because of their race.
I’m an OBGYN and I practice at a jail, where I take care of incarcerated women.
People often ask me, how did you come to work with incarcerated women? I was in the middle of my first year residency, delivering a baby. Everything was very familiar about the delivery scene; the nervousness, wondering if everything was going to be okay, helping the woman to push. But the one thing that was different is that she was shackled to the bed; she was a prisoner. And that moment troubled me so deeply that I developed an interest in learning more about these women.
Women make up a much smaller proportion of the correctional population than men — about 9% of everyone who is incarcerated. And 62% of [those] women are mothers to children who are less than 18 years old. Because women comprise such a small proportion, their gender-specific needs have been neglected. That’s particularly salient when it comes to their healthcare.
In theory, women do have the choice to have an abortion if they learn they are pregnant when they are in prison. There are constitutional guarantees — the 8th and the 14th amendments — and a number of judicial precedents, so it’s very clear that incarcerated women should have access to abortion. However, in practice, the people who are making the decisions have incredible discretion and many women lack access to abortion if they choose it.
About 1400-2000 births occur every year to women who are behind bars, and what they get for prenatal care is highly variable. There are standards that require prisons to have prenatal care onsite, but on the ground, some women have to be transported offsite and some women don’t even get prenatal care.
In labor, they usually get transported to an outside hospital. They can’t have any family support members in the room, and only 15 states have laws restricting the shackling of women in labor and delivery. A woman in labor, shackled, is what inspired me to work with this population. It’s inhumane and unnecessary, and it poses a lot of medical risks to the mother and the fetus. It also interferes with our ability to do emergent interventions if necessary.
People think prisons and jails are far away and we forget about the people who get locked up inside; we think they have nothing to do with us. So I hope I’ve given you some things to consider about what it’s like to be a woman when you’re in the grip of the prison or jail system.”
When I first got my moon, I was putting on new pants. I remember I was at my parent`s room showing off my new pink jeans. Then my sister`s face got all weird and she screamed something to my Mama. The next thing I know, I was in the bathroom and my Mama was giving me pads and acting all neurotic. She was telling me to calm down. I was calmed down. For some reason bleeding felt ‘natural’. The first mxnstrual products were pads, my Mama never talked about using tampons. There seems to be this anti-tampon thing in my family. She did mentioned ‘trapos’, she said back in the day people would wash and re-use their trapos. I was way too lazy to do that. In my teens I would be all white-mainstream-feminist pissed at my Peruvian family for being non-feminist and not letting me use tampons. Later, probably by the time I was 20, I started to understand that although the anti-tampon thing was based on judeokkkristian beliefs of virginity, I was very glad I never used tampons. Disposable pads were sucky enough…. no need to figure out how a ball of chemicals and bleached cotton and rayon inserted into my vaginal canal would make my pussy feel.
Disposable pads are nasty as fuck. NASTY. Yet, most of mxnstruating bodies are presented with either disposable pads or tampons to deal with our cycle. I could go on and on about the horrors of commercial pads and tampons, from the chemicals used in their production to the disgusting impact they have on the environment. I could also talk about the MENstrual product companies that blood shame and that are owned by mostly white cis dudes. I could do all of that but there are already plenty of articles about that. I just want you to know that disposable pads:
1)made my blood smell horribly HORRIBLY
2)made me think that I bled a LOT more than I actually did
3)made me itch so bad… my vulva as well as in my inner thighs
4)gave me vaginal imbalances
5)made my vulva and vagina feel weird… i felt confused and annoyed at my body
As bleeding people, we need to start advocating for alternatives for moon products. This is mi granito de arena, a list of alternative moon products that I have used. There are more out there, there are some disposable 100% organic cotton tampons and pads as well as reusable tampons and probably a hell lot of other stuff that i still don’t know about. In this piece i have also added some pictures of my blood and what i do with it in the hopes that one day we are able to live in a society where people re-learn that mxnstrual blood is just another bodily fluid.
BLEEDING EVERYWHERE: this might not be the most practical method for everyone but it is great. sometimes i just don’t wanna catch my blood and i want to bleed everywhere! some people sit on towels during their moon or squat on bowls to catch their flow. sometimes i just let the blood get on my sheets or underwear
THE CUP: there are different brands and they are made with different materials. i got mine for free from whole foods, i liberated it years ago. you can buy yours from $25-$45 dollars online or you can go to a fancy health food store. the cup works by catching the blood, therefore you get to see the contents of your flow perfectly. the cup is also great to measure the amount of moon blood you are shedding, some of the cups have measuring numbers on them! another benefit of the cup, is that it lasts for years and they are very easy to clean. you can wash them with warm water and (some of them) boil them when you think is necessary. I don’t always use the cup, sometimes they make me crampy and sometimes I don’t want to have a cup up in my vaginal canal. I love to have this as an alternative though, it is GREAT for biking and sports. However, I would not use it for yoga… my cup moved and bled on the floor of this horrible gentrifying yoga spot in echo park once. the cup might also be a great alternative for people that use boxers or baggier underwear. the only downsize of the cup is that it might be hard to learn how to put it in properly and the removal takes some practice. there are plenty of videos and tutorials in the google world though, so definitely try this one out! here is a link with more info on cups and useful links to compare brands.
SEA SPONGES: i have used my sea sponge a couple of times, it is not the best option for me. i coughed and sneezed a couple of times with the sponge inside and some of the blood came out… the sponge got squeezed! the cool thing about the sea sponges is that you can trim them and costume their size. when i learned about the sponge i tripped out and started researching about what other mxnstrual products people have used over the centuries. i learned that people have used wood, papyrus, wool, moss and many other organic natural products to catch their moon. the synthetic commercial that we are presented with are very new, disposable products only started to be made in the 1940s. You can find plenty of info on the internet, there is even an online Museum of Menstruation. although i like the idea of having a sea sponge as one of my blood catching products, i am a little concerned about the harvesting of sea sponges. while there are some stores that offer ‘organic and sustainable’ sponges, how do i know they are actually sustainable and organic? do they provide a fuking Life Cycle Analysis of a sea sponge? there are some sources that state that the harvesting of sea sponges is sustainable because it promotes sea sponge growth. i have also heard that the harvesting of sea sponges is very detrimental for sea eco-systems, who knows really? i got a bunch of sponges a while back, so i will use them but i am not sure if i will get more after i go through them. they usually last for a couple months and they are compostable!
MOON PADS: moon pads are pretty much my favorite way to mxnstruate. they wrap around your underwear just as platic/commercial pads do. one of the many differences are that they are reusable, so you just wash them and use them again and again. they can last for years and they are usually pretty affordable. they are made with different materials and colors and patters. once you start using reusable cotton pads, you start realizing that the smell and volume of your blood is different from when you used commercial pads. they are WAY more comfortable than commercial pads, i have two friends that have done bike touring Los Angeles-Guatemala and they used their own hand-sewn moon pads. some people make their pads with velcro or metal snaps or different types of fabrics, make sure you check the materials people use in case you are allergic to metal or any other synthetic material. my moon pads are made with cotton flannel and plastic snaps. moon pads are awesome! you can make your own, sew them by hand (takes a while but it’s fun) or use a sewing machine. you can also support crafters making moon pads in the interwebs or in your own friend circle. i make moon pads and sell them online, if you wan to support QWOC hustle check out the moon pads i make at lalobaloca.bigcartel.com
Personally, I love my moon. I love it and I think one of the reasons why I have come to enjoy my moon is because alternative moon products are not only fun but also very educational…I get all nerdy with my blood. I study it and try to figure out how my diet during cycle has impacted my moon experience. I get all exited at using different blood catching products for different days. I also love to see how the Moon cycle impacts my body and moves fluids inside of me. It’s fascinating.
If we were all taught to listen to our bodily cycles and were given mxnstrual education since an early age, society would be a better place. people would know how to prevent cramps naturally, how to control their sexuality and avoid having sex with semen donors during ovulation time, how to work with their natural body’s energy, how to honor Mxnopause…!
Our bodies’ cycles are fucking deep. CONSCIOUSLY BLEED. Look at your blood, smell it, taste it, experiment with it, fucking OWN it.
stay healthy in this unhealthy $i$tem yall
-by La Loba Loca. Gay.Queer Peruvian Muxer, tumblerista, body-powered tattooist, D.I.Y. fine artist, Justicia Reproductiva advocate, Abortion Support/Doula in training and over all interested on autonomous health. Check me out at lalobalocaart.tumblr.comand check out my goodies at lalobaloca.bigcartel.com!
Cesárea recién nacido con saco amniótico intacto. El bebé todavía respira y se alimenta de la placenta, que ni siquiera “sabe” que ha nacido todavía. Cuadro hermoso y raro.
Cesarean section newborn with amniotic sac intact. The baby still breathes and is fed by the placenta, which not even “know” that has yet been born. Beautiful and rare box.
Us in midwifery land call this “born in the caul”. It’s a very auspicious sign round these parts.
“ Martha Escobar’s essay provides a comparative and relational analysis of the detention, incarceration, deportation, and family separation of migrant women and the history of the criminalization of Black motherhood in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s. She reinforces the notion that incarceration is a mechanism for racialized social organization. For Escobar, the U.S. prison regime’s mobilization against migrants has as its context the criminalization of the bodies of Black women. The deployment of notions of Black mothers as ‘breeders of lawlessness’ fueled the expansion of the criminal justice system. By tracing how the ideological work performed to criminalize Black motherhood has been re-mapped onto migrant women, Escobar highlights the centrality of women’s reproduction in the racial organization of society, which takes place through the containment of bodies. She maintains that this dynamic is a fundamental method of regulating labor relations in the era of neoliberalism. ”
Description of Martha Escobar’s “Understanding the Roots of Latina Migrants’ Captivity,” from the introduction to the special issue of Social Justice entitled “Policing, Detention, Deportation, and Resistance: Situating Immigrant Justice and Carcerality in the 21st Century” (2009), edited by Jodie Michelle Lawston and Martha Escobar. (via nica-nopal)