Updated: May 2
“I do pray for a bigggg family one day” these were words said in the Lifetime movie about Mahalia Jackson “The Queen of Gospel Music”. Mahalia like many women she wanted to have a family.
What you may not know
In 1880 James Marion Sims became the president of the America Gynecological Society known for creating the vaginal speculum, and conducted research on enslaved Black women without anesthesia, and medical ethicists. In the book Black & Blue: The Origins and Consequences of Medical Racism by Job Hoberman, reads:
“Over the past twenty-five years the most prestigious American medical journals have produced massive evidence confirming that racially biased diagnosis and treatments are a fact of life in American medicine. These analyses document racially biased behaviors and have prompted one official investigation and no disciplinary proceedings… The racially motivated habits whose effects are presented in the medical literature as statistical data are so ingrained that some doctors do not deviate from them even when they know their interactions with black patients are being recorded for observation. Their personal eccentricities and the specific harms they cause to their patients remain anonymous, buried in the statistics that make it into print. Concealed behind the sterile terminology about racial “disparities” and “cultural differences” are an unknown number of biased behaviors that in other social venues might be regarded as negligence or violations of the law.” (pg. 32)
I have had conversations with White and Black women posing the question how do you know if a Black woman having a hysterectomy is due to racism if it could be helping/saving their life? Unfortunately, there is no way for sure, but think about this.
· Typically, lower income communities are often given limited access to specialized health care because of coverage.
· Diagnosis, black women are less likely to be miss diagnosed properly due to the idea that we have a high pain tolerance. Doctor dismissing symptoms, miss diagnosis due to negligence.
· Mistreatment, often prolonged medications, and other “treatments” without considering reproduction, or long-term effects.
· Lack of knowledge, growing up I didn’t know anything about reproductive health. I knew the basics of my menstrual cycle, but not pain, not how to advocate for myself in the doctor’s office or even when to do so. For the most part I believe women in general are not taught about reproductive health, but in many black homes this isn’t discussed because “it’s private, and nobody’s business”, this mentality is toxic and be the death of a family generation.
These are just a few assumptions that can be made, but for many this is a reality, like myself. After my first surgery at the age of 21 I was diagnosed with endometriosis due to me moving I had to find another doctor and began a very traumatic experience of not being heard and being dismissed. This is not to say that white women don’t experience some of the above, but people of color especially black women have been and still are at the core of medical racism.
There is no way for me to know that if anything could have been done differently to allow me to have children, but there is still that question in the back of my head. In the movie “Mahalia” she was talking to her husband and shared with him that her “insides were taken out” (without consent) and she said words verbatim to what I felt after my hysterectomy “I feel like everything that makes me a woman is gone”, I began to cry when I heard her say this because this is a real feeling not just a dramatic scene in a movie.
For many women in the 1800’s to now, have had stolen moments of life due to a hysterectomy, botched surgeries, miss diagnosis, medical negligence during pregnancy/after pregnancy, or medical negligence before a woman can even begin planning her family. It’s these stolen moments why we have talk more in our families, and in our communities about general health, and reproductive health even those I focus on women’s health this also applies to men. When are we going to start taking responsibility?
If you haven't seen the movie check your local listings, and check on demand. I pray that inspires you to be all that God has called you to be despite the hand you were dealt. Remember that your deck was given to you because you can handle it, it's a journey that build you up in the end.