The Community Psychologist Podcast

In this episode, Dr. Vanessa Goodar and Dr. Hareder McDowell speak with us about Black women's radical self-care and sexual communication empowerment. Catch up on the rest of our episodes at We've included below the abstracts from their presentations at the 2021 SCRA Biennial.

Dismantling Health Disparities among Black Women, Dr. Vanessa Goodar

Black women are disproportionately affected by heart disease, stroke, diabetes, breast cancer, cervical cancer, fibroid tumors, premature birth rates, obesity, sickle cell disease, sexually transmitted diseases, mental health issues and most recently COVID-19 compared to white counterparts. Resilience and strength characteristics support coping; however, further investigation of research-based, community self-care practice that centers Black Women’s voices is needed to address urgent racial health disparities as well as social and environmental stressors that impact Black women’s health and quality of life. A theoretical socio-cultural economic framework was developed to explore the role of the Strong Black Woman and the five obligations with the highest impact on Strong Black Women’s self-care barriers. Vulnerability resistance, help obligation, religious affiliation, income, and marital status were analyzed (The High Five). Twenty-five self-identifying SBW aged 18- 74 engaged in Photovoice training and defining one of the High Five self-care targets. Next, participants discussed their lived High Five self-care barrier experiences through photographs and collective storytelling. Future research includes identification of culturally responsive stakeholders interested in prioritizing Black women’s self-care actions and stress reduction and planning a High Five Self-care Photovoice exhibit.

Research Specific to Black American Women and Sexuality, Dr. Hareder McDowell

Since the inception of American culture, Black women have been breeders to literally Birth a Nation. However, breeding does not directly correlate with an actual sexual experience. Because sex is required for reproduction, it is assumed Black women were offered the opportunity to explore sex. No, Black women were born into a sexual construct that allowed them to be raped before the term was formally defined. Sex and sexuality are inclusive of body parts that are necessary for sexual pleasure and reproduction. If provided with instruction and education on how the body is used with a consensual partner can lead to healthy and happy sexual experiences. Yet, the ancestors of Black women had no concept of this. To conceptualize the idea that current trends among Black American women and adverse sexuality including lack of orgasms, fulfilling sexual experiences resulting in appeal and satisfaction of sexual encounters, body positivity and reproductive health are directly correlated with the historic sexual abuse, hypertextualization and overall bestiality of forced reproduction. A team of community stake-holders in the sexual health and Black women arena’s ( Christian Community Health Centers, Planned Parenthood, Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health) will participate in the Story-telling method, detailing experiences surrounding current sexual health trends and compare concepts inclusive of arranged rape, experimental property for science, body parts as transactional tools and methods during slavery and post-reconstruction compared to what is currently challenging Black women and sexual health today. Should the qualitative method of storytelling\post analyzing photo-voice recordings reflect a potential correlation between current sexual trends of Black women that may directly reflect subconscious and even genetic trauma of the past, continued research would ensue to better gather data on a broader scale to inform the medical field as to how Black women are educated surrounding sexual health and reproductive justice.

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