African American Women's Life Issues Today: Vital Health and Social Matters

African American Women's Life Issues Today: Vital Health and Social Matters

African American Women's Life Issues Today: Vital Health and Social Matters

African American Women's Life Issues Today: Vital Health and Social Matters


Written by an all-female, all-African American team of health experts that include nurse practitioners, registered nurses, educators, and psychologists, this book focuses on the diseases and related social issues that cause the greatest harm and pose the greatest threat to African American women today. Its chapters address topics as varied as heart disease, cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, domestic violence, cervical and breast cancers, obesity, depression, mental illness, dementia/Alzheimer's, and incarcerated women's health care. A chapter is dedicated to identifying the social, cultural, and environmental barriers that block African American women from experiencing the best possible lives.

Providing comprehensive coverage of the topic from an Afrocentric perspective, this text will be of great interest to medical and psychological health professionals and professors; social workers, counselors, and students in these fields; as well as African American women seeking current and expert information on these health threats.


When I write about African American women, my work is focused on our economic status, on the number of African American women in poverty, head households, or raise children alone. I also focus on the levels of income and wealth that African American women experience. While these data tell an important story about the nature of inequality in our nation and the ways it especially affects African American women, there are other data that are equally important in describing the status of African American women.

Dr. Catherine Fisher Collins has assembled an impressive volume of voices to speak of these other issues, among them depression, health disparities, domestic violence, and incarceration. In reading these chapters, I was reminded of Fannie Lou Hamer, the amazing Mississippi civil rights leader who declared that she was “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Hamer experienced economic inequality and paid an economic price for her activism (she was evicted from the plantation where her husband and daughters lived because she registered to vote). Still, her sickness and her tiredness came from attempting to dismantle a patently unjust political and economic system, her frustration at the slow pace of progress, and at the propensity to make compromises that she found unacceptable. She may also have been sick and tired of the health effects of the beating she took in 1963 in Winona, Mississippi. One of her eyes was badly damaged and she never regained full health after that beating.

Hamer died at 59 of heart failure. She also battled diabetes and last-stage breast cancer. Her health care was inadequate—she may have been a beneficiary of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act had our legislators been more progressive at that time. Thirty-five years after Hamer’s death, too many African American women still face challenges in accessing health care—for physical, dental (which is often treated differently . . .

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