Meet The Afrolegalise
Hey guys, I am SUPER excited for my first blog feature and I'm glad I chose today to do it! This week I wanted to talk about food security and women of color, but I also wanted to talk in general about being a black woman and how health is delivered to us and how we are perceived in society in general. I got to pick Chisara's brain a bit and I'm grateful for the opportunity. Meet Chisara, The Afrolegalise.
1.) First of all, tell us about yourself? What do you do and what are your interests?
My name is Chisaraokwu aka Theafrolegalise. I am a graduating JD/MBA from a university in California. My legal focus is health law; specifically reproductive justice as it relates to women in the African Diaspora. I love to travel, cook, dance, change my hair, and read. I have a blog and a YouTube channel where I share my prose, poetry, and thoughts on my everyday experiences as a first generation Black Nigerian Feminist.
2.)According to a 2008 survey conducted by the Agency For Healthcare research and quality black women who participated in the survey stated that most of their visits to doctor's offices and clinics frustrated them because they felt their what they had to say was not respected and their healthcare provided unclear information. Based on your experience, why do you think that is?
Black women are taxed with the stereotypes of the Mammy, Sapphire, and Jezebel. Each of these stereotypes informs the way that Black women are neglected by different systems including the health care system. Currently, the medical field does not recognize the effects of race and gender on Black women’s overall health and wellness. As a result, doctors often lack the cultural competency to diagnose or treat Black women. Studies have shown that doctors believe that Black children experience less pain physically, emotionally, and mentally. This lack of recognition for racism and sexism as public health problems matched with elongated neglect make Black women feel uneasy and hesitant to trust their medical providers. Additionally, it makes a huge difference when Black women actually have other Black women as healthcare professionals. It decreases anxiety and increases the likelihood that Black women will receive more preventative and holistic care.
3.) How can being ignored in a healthcare setting impact the health choices black women make?
It causes anxiety, depression, and isolation. It also exasperates the preexisting mental and emotional health issues that Black women face outside of the healthcare system. When Black women experience these feelings of isolation, they are less likely to be proactive about their health or may seek other remedies to cope with their problems. This creates a whole host of other public health concerns as a Black woman’s health choices directly impacts her family and the community around her.
4.) What practices (hypersexualization, colorism, etc.) have affected you the most negatively and why? Hypersexualization has probably affected me the most in regards to my health decisions and my interaction with health professionals. Due to the stigma around the Black female body and the long history of exploitation of the Black female body across the Diaspora, I often feel uncomfortable undergoing check-ups or other procedures by anyone other than Black women. Also due to the stigma surrounding mental health in my community and the culture of silence, it is sometimes difficult for me to talk about my mental health and emotional needs with healthcare professionals.
5.) What do you perceive a the most pressing issue health wise for black women?
I do not believe there is one pressing issue among Black women. Age, class, sexuality, gender identity, disability, and more effect the different health concerns that affect certain groups of Black women. However, I am a proponent of the reproductive justice framework and think it encompasses many of the issues that prevent Black women from living fully healthy life.
Reproductive justice is the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, social, and economic well being of women and girls, based on the full achievement and protection of women's human rights.
The reproductive justice framework recognizes three main rights that Black women and other women of color have.
1. Decide if and when she will have a baby and the conditions under which she will give birth
2. Decide if she will not have a baby and her options for preventing or ending a pregnancy
3. Parent the children she already has with the necessary social supports in safe environments and healthy communities, and without fear of violence from individuals or the government
6.) How can we contact you?