I’m finally going to Mississippi at the end of this summer! And when I say ‘finally‘ I mean that I actually received some funding for the work that I do — that I’m looking to expand. It is extremely hard to get funding from my perspective. What I can guarantee you is I get denied because I am a Black woman who wants to make radical changes with my community and throughout society overall. Because I approach my research proposals with an anti-racist, decolonial, radical Black feminist tone and am not a person who is looking to do nothing at all except go off to some foreign land and study the ‘Other’ in order to objectify, vilify and further deem how superior the Western world is — to uphold the colonial legacy of anthropology — they always get shut down. I refuse to give in and even change my language in order to acquiesce to a dominant paradigm that wants me to be ‘objective,’ and ‘conforming’. In other words, I refuse to whiten myself up.
This time, a donor and her husband (said husband who mentioned how ‘comfortable’ he is with Black people — I’ll tell you this story soon enough), gifted the department a generous amount of funds to pass out to various graduate students for pilot research, whose work fits within medical anthropology — and I was one of those students — even though I don’t consider myself a medical anthropologist. I received enough money to pay for travel from Seattle to Mississippi, to travel between cities in Mississippi: Greenville, Jackson, Natchez, to pay fees to visit slave plantations which is part of my research, and to eat but this funding does not cover everything — like room and board and other miscellaneous fees associated with such a trip, which is why I created a gofundme account to help cover costs of these important components.
Black women in this country have the lowest breastfeeding rates of any group, and breastmilk is literally the difference between life and death for many babies, Black women also have one of the most complex histories. Mississippi has the lowest breastfeeding rates of any state in this union, and I believe that this state has the richest history of both oppression by the state and resistance by the people, who have voluntarily and involuntarily given their lives in order to resist dehumanization. Looking at this trajectory, I believe breastfeeding fits right into this paradigm. But the legacy of disenfranchisement, anti-Black woman sentiments, fragmentation of Black women, radical dispossession and reproductive control among many other dominating facets rooted in a racist history, I believe continue to operate through this biological site. This perspective — one from a Black feminist anthropological vantage point has never been done before, and I’m going down to confront this legacy. In the video below, I briefly share more about my work and this endeavor.
If you feel you’ve been inspired by any facet of the work that I do then please consider visiting the icon and pitching in what you can. Thank you in advance for any consideration. And thanks for helping me spread the word!