I have been wondering where the black women are since my first Africana class. Our contributions, our intellectual, physical, emotional labor all seem to be perpetually out of sight in the academy. Black women have to be found and it seems that far too often it falls on ourselves to do this recovery work. I have been so grateful for my mentors in the academy– for those whose work centers black women’s legacies and those who take and create space for their students to continue this work. My name is Lindsey Jarrell– I am an undergraduate degree candidate in Africana Studies and Political Science at Davidson College and the Research Assistant for BWSA.
Currently my research focuses on Southern Black women’s reproductive justice and networks of reproductive resistance. I am attempting to understand the systemic and intersecting oppressions that black women face as our compounding marginalizations result in a multitude of struggles. Much of African American studies that I have encountered focuses on a rhetoric of migration and movement but so many Black people have never had the class privilege and/ or interest in leaving the South. I am considering the ways in which stillness and confinement have been central to the African American experience and thus focus on spaces within the South which have been created to resist the systemic obstacles restricting the livelihood of Black women.
In the summer of 2018 I was a Kemp Scholar and through the program had the resources to conduct archival research on the roles of homeopathic and conventional medicine in Black women’s lived experiences and reproductive practices. This research allowed me to spend time uncovering the deeply racist roots of American gynecology and the foundations of medical racism which continue to create huge disparities in women of color, especially Black women’s, birth outcomes, breastfeeding, and access to affordable and equitable healthcare.
The opportunity to conduct a nuanced examination of the foundations of reproductive oppression in the American South was invaluable. Moving now into the fall of my senior year, I am writing my thesis in Africana on this work and growing this project. I am currently working using ethnographic methods to study the organizing around reproductive justice being done by Black women today in Charlotte, NC. As part of this expansion of my work, I was able to connect with a Charlotte community of women of color doulas and will be getting certified with them in October, which is both personally and academically exciting to me. My work seeks to understand the ways in which finding ways to live and to survive has been a mode of resistance for Black women and, furthermore, the ways in which Black women have always been at the center of our own liberation movements. I am honored to be doing this work and growing my knowledge and ability to advocate and support women and to be a part of the community that BWSA is creating. A space to build and connect those of us committed to the project of visibility and moving the contributions of Black women out from the periphery in the academy and public consciousness.
- Lindsey Jarrell