NABG Newsletter Issue 08: Here and Now- Health Equity for Black Girls

You are reading an A National Agenda for Black Girls weekly newsletter. A National Agenda for Black Girls a Girls for Gender Equity initiative focused on centering Black girls in our national policies. Want to receive more NABG insights and updates? Sign up for the newsletter here.

Black girls, women and non-binary people need equitable access to health, family building, family planning, and well-being. They deserve accurate, affirming information about sexual and reproductive health in schools, and deserve to have autonomy over their bodies. Black girls deserve to live self-determined lives, which includes access to affordable mental health and physical health care.

As COVID-19 has grown to become a global pandemic, the work of A National Agenda for Black Girls becomes even more salient. Our work is to ensure that historically neglected populations are not again left out, denied information, or deliberately harmed in the response.

Historically, when there have been global health crises, poor people and people of color have time and time again received inadequate care and were harmed by inappropriate policy responses. We’ve compiled this infographic to provide details about what is happening and how COVID-19 compares to other diseases that have arisen in the past:

How is COVID-19 Different?

This is a public health crisis, and very possibly a humanitarian crisis as well. This infographic (Source: @infobeautiful Instagram account and US & China Centers for Disease Control, New York Times, and Johns Hopkins University) provides details about what is happening and how COVID-19 compares to other diseases that have arisen in the past. Testing will increase for COVID-19 and luckily, the fatality rate is still low. However, fears are very valid, especially in considering how fast this can spread and impact those experiencing homelessness, living in crowded shelters, and those who are incarcerated in jails, prisons, or ICE Detention centers.

Too often when there is a crisis Black communities are left under-resourced and without accurate information. This needs to change in how the government responds to COVID-19.

What can WE do?

We need to take care of each other and ourselves. We cannot repeat the rhetoric of the past. If we lean into the mentality that COVID-19 only impacts the elderly or folks with compromised immune systems, we deny these community members their dignity and human rights.

We need to uplift Black girls, Black women, non-binary and gender nonconforming folks to ensure they are being neither neglected nor harmed in the crisis response. We already know that Black women receive some of the worst medical care in the country, especially when compared to white women. Even prior to this crisis, 1 in 5 non-binary people were denied medical treatment based on their identity. We must advocate for a change in the healthcare system, a re-allocation of resources, and transparency from the government and public health officials.

Black women are also disproportionately impacted by incarceration and also are more likely to be caring for those who are incarcerated. COVID-19 is making their roles even more challenging by banning visitation and forcing folks experiencing incarceration to work for 65 cents in order to produce hand sanitizer that they are not allowed to use. This is further causing economic strain as more people are trying to send “acceptable” soap to the prisons and jails in order to protect their loved ones.

What can YOU do?

In the meantime, wash your hands, rest, sanitize, and if you feel ill, take care of yourself.

Resources:

As GGEs President and Founding CEO, Joanne N. Smith says, “we got us” so here are some resources we have curated in the hopes of making you all feel supported, heard, and loved.

P.S. Know someone who is also invested in the future of Black girls? Forward this article to them. If you’d like to invest in Black girls, donate here, and sign up for our newsletter by clicking here.

Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) is an intergenerational organization committed to the physical, psychological, social, and economic development of girls and women