In the Black community it is important to honor 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.
To foster good health and wellness Black people have embarked on self-determination, mutual aid and social support initiatives to build hospitals, medical and nursing schools (i.e. Meharry Medical College, Howard University College of Medicine, Provident Hospital and Training School, Morehouse School of Medicine, etc.) and community clinics. Clinics were established by individuals, grassroots organizations and mutual aid societies, such as the African Union Society, National Association of Colored Women and Black Panther Party, to provide spaces for Black people to counter the economic and health disparities and discrimination that are found at mainstream institutions. While Black communities were creating hospitals, community health clinics, and medical colleges, they were also creating Black owned insurance companies and burial societies, financial institutions, credit unions, and businesses in efforts to empower their communities to be financially stable and well; and to keep the money in the community. These institutions worked to develop Black business districts and to improve the socioeconomic status of the Black community.
At this point in the 21st century, our understanding of Black health and wellness is broader and more nuanced than ever. Black health and wellness not only include one’s physical body, but also emotional and mental health. In the still overhanging shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, Black people should and do use data and other information-sharing modalities to document, decry, and agitate against the interconnected, intersecting inequalities intentionally baked into systems and structures in the U.S. for no other reason than to curtail, circumscribe, and destroy Black well-being in all forms and Black lives. It was also during the pandemic that a light was shone on the glaring disparities in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries as well as the impact the lack of a living wage had on the health and wellness of those in the Black community. It became clear that individuals, organizations, and businesses were financially unwell and unable to handle a financial crisis. Some of these issues arose from bad financial decisions (i.e. debt, bad investments, lack of savings, the housing crisis, etc.) and denote the need for financial literacy and planning for future financial wellness.
Mindful of Sister Audre Lorde’s words, we are doing more to move forward holistically for the betterment of ourselves, our bodies, our relationships, our communities, and our planet.
We are determined to create a conference that shines a light on the multiple facets of Black health and wellness through education and activism.
The Association for the Study of African American Life and History’s Academic Program Committee seeks proposals that probe the traditional fields of economics, accounting, politics, medicine, psychology, intellectual, and cultural history; the established fields of urban, race, ethnic, labor, and women’s/gender history as well as southern and western history; along with the rapidly expanding fields of sexuality, LGBTQIA, and queer history; environmental and public history; African American intellectual history; literature; and the social sciences. We look forward to proposals that center Black/African Diasporic health from multiple ontologies and epistemologies, embrace decoloniality, and engage embodiment. We encourage submissions from historians, students, new professionals, first-time presenters, information professionals, activists, financial planners, accountants, clinicians, community healers, health researchers, and health practitioners.