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February 10, 2022

5 Ways to Observe This Year's Black History Month

Featured imageA Black scientist wearing a mask stands at a desk in a lab, working with tools.
Photo by Hush Naidoo Jade Photography on Unsplash.
This year, the theme focuses on Black Health and Wellness — an especially timely focus.

The theme for Black History Month 2022 is Black Health and Wellness. As the Association for the Study of African American Life and History explains, this theme explores "the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing (e.g., birthworkers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora. The 2022 theme considers activities, rituals and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well." This theme is especially important as we enter the third year of the pandemic, which has disproportionately affected communities of color and posed specific hardships for Black health care professionals

For more on this year's theme, check out the Association for the Study of African American Life and History’s full summary. And below, five concrete ways to explore the theme of Black Health and Wellness.

Rare Melanin

Created by Kimberly Ramseur, JD, MPH, Rare Melanin is an Instagram account that centers and amplifies Black experiences in rare disease. Recent posts include a book recommendation (Taylor Harris’s This Boy We Made, a memoir about motherhood, genetics and facing the unknown) and this message: “As we celebrate achievements of many Black individuals throughout February (& all year, quite frankly) remember to celebrate your own achievements. No matter what they are esp. if you’ve been living with or caring for a person with a rare disease. Your story is Black history too.”

Follow Rare Melanin here.

Celebrate Black History Month Through the Lens of Black Health & Wellness

For Black History Month, the National Museum of African American History & Culture is examining the theme of Black health and wellness by creating spaces that highlight “Black pioneers' trailblazing contributions to Western medicine, addresses health disparities facing the Black community and encourages healing through education.” Learn more by heading to the site, which features an accompanying social media toolkit

Black Women's Mental Health: Balancing Strength and Vulnerability

This book merges theory, practice and personal narratives to provide a better understanding and tangible solutions to approaching Black women's wellness. From the foreword by Linda Goler Blount, MPH: "This book speaks not only to Black women but also educates a broader audience of policymakers and therapists about the complex and multilayered realities that we must navigate and the protests we must mount on our journey to find inner peace and optimal health." Paperback and e-book editions are available here, in addition to the audio book.

The Color of Medicine

This award-winning documentary tells the story of a St. Louis, Missouri, hospital that opened during segregation and, at one point, trained the highest number of Black doctors and nurses in the world. From the film’s creators: “The film features Dr. Earle U. Robinson Jr., a 2nd generation physician and alumnus from Homer G. Phillips hospital, who shares his personal story and his father’s, Dr. Earle Robinson, Sr., who was one of the first 27 Black graduates of the prestigious hospital. Recollections of the hospital’s beginnings in 1937 to its closing in 1979 are heard from other physicians, nurses and patients, along with community activists and leaders expressing the valuable significant contributions that Homer G. Phillips hospital made in African American and United States history.” Learn more about the film and its creators here, and watch its trailer here.    

Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organizing for Reproductive Justice

This book captures the evolving and largely unknown activist history of women of color, including Black women, who organize for reproductive justice — on their own behalf. From Dorothy Roberts, author of Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty and law professor, “Undivided Rights is the most complete account of the vital contribution made by women of color to the contemporary reproductive rights movement. By giving these organizers the attention they deserve, the authors illuminate a distinctive vision for reproductive health and freedom that demands an end to social inequities. Essential reading for anyone committed to the struggle for reproductive justice." Available as a paperback here, and an eTextbook here.

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