(1) Inspiring Resilience & Sistership in a Time of Reproductive Injustice

The past few weeks have been devastating and overwhelming for millions of women, transgender, and nonbinary individuals nationwide. Recently, the Supreme Court made the life-changing decision to overturn the Roe v. Wade case, removing the right to choose at the federal level. Now more than ever is the time to advocate for the right to reproductive justice for all women and anyone included. But until we can also recognize and combat the unspoken issue of Black reproductive and maternal injustice, no one is truly protected. 

Sisterly Resistance, 2019, by Jules Arthur – Property of Resilient Sisterhood Project

Resilience is a powerful word for durability or having strength through difficult times. For years, Black women (and those affected) have been exercising their resilience and strength in the face of reproductive inequality, maternal health disparities, and other challenges. And through sisterhood, Black women continue to support each other and challenge systems that have historically hindered their pursuit of health and autonomy. This summer, I have seen the importance of resilience and sisterhood through my internship at Resilient Sisterhood Project (RSP). The organization’s name speaks for itself! RSP is a non-profit organization based in Boston, MA. It was founded by Lily Marcelin, a Haitian woman who started her journey in this field back in 2012 by listening to stories of Black women and their struggles with fibrosis. Today, RSP keeps true to its origins by continuing the education and empowerment of women of the African diaspora regarding the reproductive system that disproportionately affects them. 

The organization approaches these inequities among Black women through conversation, educational programming like webinars, and the distribution of educational resources on their social media platforms. The website provides extensive information about obstetric complications, incarceration injustices, environmental concerns, and community outreach projects meant to support and empower Black women of all ages. 

As a summer intern, my research project will focus on the impact of endometriosis on the reproductive health of Black women ages 25-40. According to the National Institute of Health, endometriosis is among the leading causes of infertility in Black women. This is a huge concern as endometriosis is commonly misdiagnosed in Black women as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). In all women, misdiagnoses can typically delay endometriosis detection by 7-10 years, which is a huge problem. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will work with the RSP team on contacting individuals with endometriosis and hearing about their experiences. At the end of this internship, I will have educational content on endometriosis available for the public. 

I’m looking forward to watching this project grow and eventually make an impact where it is most needed. Right now, in the early stages, I am learning how a small nonprofit operates, how to do research, and how to cultivate innovative ways to address this deeply-rooted problem in our country’s healthcare system. It’s been so gratifying to work with a great team that values the importance of resilience and sisterhood—especially as the future of reproductive health and security in this country remains uncertain.