Black Feminist Health Science Studies (BFHSS) aims to highlight the necessity of incorporating social justice into medical science. It was created by interdisciplinary scholars who started their careers as undergraduates studying Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Black women have been one of the most ignored and marginalized groups in the history of social justice and healthcare. It is the hope that breaking down barriers that prevent health care access and equity for Black women will assist in the dismantling of barriers for other marginalized groups. The hope for this discipline is to be an inclusive one that addresses intersectional issues of race, gender and class. We also hope to demonstrate the necessity for understanding how societal factors prevent healthcare from being accessible as human right, not a privilege or commodity.
Early Images of Medical Education
My dissertation, Race, Region, and Gender in Early Emory School of Medicine Yearbooks, examines how patient and student bodies are represented in the yearbooks students create during their training. By analyzing the sociocultural aspects of medical education at Emory School of Medicine after the release of the influential Flexner Report, I build a foundation for understanding how representations shape medical students understandings of potential patients and themselves. The hidden curriculum of medical education is communicated, not in classroom lecture, but in the ways that institutional culture promulgates certain representations over others. An idyllic student and patient emerge that reinforce one another at the expense of bodily diversity among patients and students, exacerbating care disparities through controlling vernacular medical media. I identified medical school yearbooks from 1913-1917, the period immediately following the implementation of Abraham Flexner’s recommendations for medical schools in Georgia, and looked for images and language that spoke to the way women, people of color, Black people, and particularly Black women were represented. The stark contrast between the depictions of these marginalized groups and the students creating the images is an important site of inquiry in this dissertation.
I want a feminism that doesn’t tokenize or fetishize the marginalized folks within the movement, i.e. people of color, queer folks, people with disabilities, etc. To this end, I am really interested in the margins within the margins and how people with intersecting marginal identities create the world they want to see and resist others’ attempts to use their representations for their own purposes. How do we see ourselves? The Obsidian Project focuses dark skinned queers of color, seeing them/us in new light and listening with intention. By promoting the physical visibility of dark skinned queer folks of color I hope to counter dominating representations that only invoke black skin as a sexualized other. With detailed verbal description of the images, I intend to craft a new narrative based in people’s own realities. In talking with my subjects, I am learning a lot about what it means to be a dark skinned person in a world where colorism is still a difficult conversation, even among folks with a queer politic. This is a project about deepening our understanding of how internalized oppressions are operationalized in activist communities and healing these unspoken wounds.
Quirky Black Girls is the tangible manifestation of the spirit of a small group of students that nurtured me while I attended Spelman College. These girls dared to follow their own path and chart their own course in a conservative and sometimes hostile environment. This looked like piercings, tattoos, fishnets, and high platform heels. It sounded like Q’uranic Prayer, soul stirring poetry, and southern crunk music sung with an operatic cadance. And since then, I keep meeting black girls who did their own thing who looked, talked, walked, lived in ways that weren’t refected anywhere. In 2008 I met fellow QBG kindred Alexis Pauline Gumbs and when our powers combined, Quirky Black Girls was born! As co-conspirators of the Quirky BlackGirl Movement, we began to pull ourselves towards each other. Via a blog, a social network, a facebook group, regular arcade nights, jam sessions, cookOUTS, a Black speculative fiction reading group and more, QBG, allows a diverse group of self identified Quirky Black Girls to build bravery and challenge each other’s thinking. QBG facilitates mutually nurturing online and in-person spaces for Black feminist conversations, which honors and supplements the rich tapestry of Black feminism that has come before us.
Dr. Deboleena Roy and graduate students’ web based collection that examines issues in science, race, disability, reproductive justice, technology, the environment, gender, and class.
Transformative Digital Humanities: Doing Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Sexuality, and Class in DH