Honoring Black History Month
February 3, 2023
Happy Black History/Black Futures Month! KBFPC will be honoring the history and power of diverse Black communities all month, with recommendations for impactful media of all kinds from Black perspectives on sexual & reproductive health. Bookmark Fridays in February for powerful stories to learn from all weekend!
While acknowledging the history of harm and oppression of Black people in reproductive medicine and public policy, we also want to recognize and uplift the contributions of Black leaders – past, present, and future – to the Reproductive Justice movement and cultural conversations.
Thanks to our staff & the KBFPC community for their recommendations. Check back over the course of this month for more links to books, podcasts, articles, social media accounts and more!
Black Love Matters: Real Talk on Romance, Being Seen, and Happily Ever Afters, Jessica P. Pryde – a collection of intersectional essays examining romantic love in the Black community from a dozen perspectives.
Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty, Dorothy Roberts – a “rallying cry for education, awareness, and action” that changed the conversation about racial and gender justice in the 1990s by exposing America’s systemic abuse of Black women’s bodies.
Just Medicine: A Cure for Racial Inequality in American Health Care, Dayna Bowen Matthew – investigation of implicit bias in the medical community and an innovative plan to eliminate inequalities in American health care that disproportionately harm Black and brown people.
Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood, Michele Goodwin – law professor Goodwin “brings to life the chilling ways in which women have become the targets of secretive state surveillance of their pregnancies.”
Reproductive Justice: An Introduction, Loretta J. Ross and Rickie Solinger – foundational text from scholar-activists at the forefront of the Reproductive Justice movement, centering the experiences of Black women and other WOC in an intersectional analysis of how gender, class and race factor into healthcare access and fight for equality.
Medical Bondage: Race, Gender and the Origins of American Gynecology, Deirdre Cooper Owens – the exploitation of Black women in the history of gynecological medicine and how the effects of its racism, violence, and misinformation are still felt today.
Pocket Guide for Young Men without Fathers: Important Life Lessons, Dr. John Taylor – an experienced father, sexuality teacher, and counselor gives short chapters of invaluable advice to help boys succeed.
Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present, Harriet A. Washington – “The first full history of Black America’s shocking mistreatment as unwilling and unwitting experimental subjects at the hands of the medical establishment.”
Birthing Justice: Black Women, Pregnancy, and Childbirth, Alicia D. Bonaparte and Julia Chinyere Oparah – mixing scholarly, activist, and personal perspectives centering Black women’s voices in the debate about the maternal health crisis in the USA and globally.
Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, Adrienne Maree Brown – a compilation of Black feminist approaches to healing and happiness with subjects ranging from race and gender to sex work and climate change, rethinking the rules of activism and making social justice the most pleasurable human experience. (also a fantastic Instagram follow!)
The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love, Sonya Renee Taylor – a world-renowned activist and poet explores the intersection of bodies, identity, and social justice and offers radical self-love as the balm to heal the wounds inflicted by systems of oppression.
This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories That Make Us, Cole Arthur Riley – debut book from the creator of Black Liturgies, stories and reflections from three generations of her family alongside contemplative reflections on embodied spirituality.
The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo – Young Adult semi-biographical novel about an Afro-Dominican teen in Harlem discovering spoken-word poetry and coming of age in a religious family.
Black Girls Must Die Exhausted, Jayne Allen – the first novel in a popular trilogy about modern womanhood, love, work, fertility, and the importance of community.
The Kindest Lie, Nancy Johnson – contemporary fiction about how our personal reproductive histories can affect our present experiences, set in the Midwest during Obama’s first term.
Take My Hand, Dolen Perkins-Valdez – inspired by true events, this novel bridges a generation of American history and blends family conflict and courtroom drama around the lives of two young Black girls and the Family Planning nurse who cares for them.
The Wedding Date series, Jasmine Guillory – best-selling contemporary romance novels by a former lawyer with African-American professional protagonists and sex-positive storylines.
NOTE: Many of the books on this list are also featured on the incredible Black Feminism and Reproductive Justice Reading List from Black Women Radicals, who remind us that it was a group of Black women in 1994 who coined the term Reproductive Justice and the founded the movement as a counterpoint to the priorities of White women influencing earlier feminist movements. By their definition, as captured by the SisterSong: Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, Reproductive Justice is: “…the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.”
NPR’s 1A: Birth Control – Past, Present, and Future (34-47 min) – A trio of episodes with host Jenn White interviewing physicians, authors, journalists, and drug experts about the checkered history of birth control and what methods may be available in the future. From 2021. (If you want to hear more from Dr. Krystale Littlejohn, author of Just Get on the Pill: The Uneven Burden of Reproductive Politics, check out her interview on The Story of Woman.)
Gender 101: The Binary Won’t Save You (52 min) – From Hoodrat to Headwrap: A Decolonized Podcast with sexuality educator Ericka Hart. “Refusing to acknowledge how gender works isn’t doing you any favors, so gather round for this long awaited, very special teach-in episode…”
Hormonal: Reproductive Choice & Reproductive Justice (35 min) – Interview with RJ movement founder Dr. Loretta Ross about the systems of oppression such as racism, sexism, and ableism that make it harder for some people to access reproductive healthcare.
Lit Society: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (1:38, 1:15) – A two-part podcast discussing this bestselling non-fiction book about a Black woman whose cervical cancer cells – taken without her permission – became an important tool in medicine without her family’s knowledge.
Inspiring a bright future for Black mothers (39 min) – Episode from the Maternal Health Innovation podcast, with Dr. Rahmatu Kassimu discussing Dr. Shalon Irving’s legacy and the Maternal Action Project, which works to address inequities and disparities for the Black women and women of color in maternal health.
Black History Month playlist – So many of the current conversations and historical context for Black culture in America is reflected in popular music – both past and present! Discover a new artist and learn more about their story!
The 19th: A new museum and clinic will honor the enslaved “Mothers of Gynecology” – A site in Montgomery, Alabama where a doctor experimented on enslaved Black women now houses a monument to these known and unknown “Mothers of Gynecology” and will become a multi-million dollar museum, clinic and training space for medical students, gynecologists, doulas, and midwives helping to counter the Black Maternal Health crisis.
New England Journal of Medicine: A Black Abortion Provider’s Perspective on Post-Roe America – A doctor shares personal and professional insights on the disproportionate impacts of restrictions on abortion care and general access to reproductive healthcare on Black women, families, and communities.
Washington Informer: Why Black Americans Historically Mistrust the Health System – About the history of systemic abuse and disenfranchisement leading to many Black people’s and communities’ distrust of the health care system and medical providers. For more information on the Tuskegee Syphilis Study: AP News published a 50th Anniversary perspective on the original exposé, and NPR highlighted the aftermath of exploitative funeral payments to victims’ families from a large private foundation.
The Chicago Defender is publishing a series this month called This Week In Black History, full of information about cultural and historical events in Februarys past.
Educator and entrepreneur Nicole Cardoza offers a fantastic regular email newsletter, the Anti-Racism Daily with diverse and in-depth articles about a wide range of topics including: Intersectionality and the Black Feminists Behind It, the Fight for Reproductive Justice, the work of Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, Ensuring Access to PrEP, and Reproductive Suppression and the Real ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ – as well as a great 28 Days of Black History annual series.
@gorjus_sexed – Natasha Ramsey MD, MPH is an adolescent medicine doctor and shares inclusive educational information about sexual health and reproductive justice. (You can also follow her individually @gorjusdoc!)
@ihartericka – Erica Hart, M.Ed. is a sex educator and breast cancer survivor who shares about Black and queer culture and personal, body-positive content including their pregnancy journey.
@drtanyambass – Tanya M. Bass, PhD, MEd, MS, CHES, CSE is a sexuality educator, mental health advocate, and conference leader advancing health equity through her work teaching, training, and supporting community organizations.
@jhjtherapy – Jeanae Hopgood, LMFT, M.Ed, PMH-C is a couple & family therapist and clinical sexologist who shares inspiring mental health and relationship communication tips and resources.
@nationalblackdoulas – The #1 Black and BIPOC Doula training company in the world, with a mission to combat high Black Maternal Mortality and Morbidity rates.
@sexpositive_families – Founded by Melissa Pintor Carnagey, LBSW, Sex Positive Families offers comprehensive resources to “help families raise sexually healthy children” with tips on having The Talk about everything from bodies & consent to puberty & pornography.
@sistersong_woc – SisterSong: Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective is a Southern-based network of activists working to impact policies and improve reproductive lives of marginalized communities. They hosted a convening of Reproductive Justice leaders in January 2023 that lead to a statement of Visioning New Futures for Reproductive Justice Declaration.