Women of Color and Health: Issues and Solutions

By Cross, June; Weeks, Nia | Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, Summer 2018 | Go to article overview

Women of Color and Health: Issues and Solutions


Cross, June, Weeks, Nia, Columbia Journal of Gender and Law


Chloe Bootstaylor: Welcome to our second panel. This panel focuses on women of color in health, issues, and solutions. The session is inspired by Professor June Cross of the Columbia School of Journalism and her recent film, Wilhemina's War, which follows the story of Wilhemina Dixon and depicts the obstacles that Americans with HIV/AIDS face in accessing not only adequate healthcare but also financial, infrastructural, and social support in their communities.

This panel will consist of Professor Underhill and Nia Weeks. June Cross will join us a little later on. We will start with a clip from her film, and then our moderator and our panelists will take it away. So, here's a little bit of Wilhemina's War.

Excerpt from Wilhemina's War. (1)

Governor Nikki Haley [NH]: This is a great county. It's a great place to grow up. It's a great place to live. You should be incredibly proud of it.

Representative Joe Neal [JN]: Rural South Carolina is dying on the vine. Farming has failed. There's no industry.

NH: We need to handle South Carolina the way that we know that's best, not the way the President knows that's best.

Wilhemina Dixon [WD]: So, are you going to drink it or you want to just take it? All right.

JN: We have a county here, for example, Bamberg, that lost its hospital. There's not one doctor in the whole county.

WD: Every two months she goes to Columbia. That has been a burden on us because when gas got so high we didn't have the money to get gas to go into Columbia. And a lot of times the car be broke or something like that, but I just have to make sure I get her to Columbia.

Vivian Clark-Armstead [VCA]: This state right now is investing very little in saving the lives of African Americans affected by HIV/AIDS. And so, if you're waiting on the cavalry to come, you 're waiting on somebody else to come and save us, and you think the government is coming, if you think help's coming, just think about Katrina. They ain't coming. So, we're going to have to save ourselves. We're going to have to save our children.

Dayshal Dicks [DD]: My name is Dayshal Dicks. I have HIV for fifteen years. All my life.

WD: Well, they just gave her to me for her to die. She was so little. And she had turned like ... I say like if you got a chicken and you pick it, and it starts to turn kind of blueish. But she was so tiny.

DD: Oh, you HIV positive? You're going to die today or tomorrow.

Ms. Phyllis: HIV? You don't hear too much about that around here. Because if people got it, they 're not going to tell you about it.

Monique [M]: What is this I hear that you have stopped taking your medicine for a while? What happened?

DD: Uh ... I think it was stress.

M: Stress?

DD: Yeah.

M: You got depressed?

DD: Yeah.

WD: Any type of like depression, depression is the worst thing you can have with it. How can you get yourself straightened out if you have no home to go to, to sleep at night? Just in the streets. They might as well let everybody that's got HIV die.

Kristen Underhill [KU]: Thank you so much having us. So, after seeing the preview, I'm sure there's no additional encouragement that you need to see this movie. We watched it last night here at the law school, and it's incredibly moving, and it's really a striking illustration of some of the systemic and structural disadvantages that people face when they're trying to access treatment for HIV, in a healthcare system, in a state that has not expanded Medicaid, with all these different layers of disadvantage, marginalization, and poverty.

So, the film tells the stories of Wilhemina Dixon; Toni Dicks, her daughter; and Dayshal Dicks, her granddaughter. Toni and Dayshal are both HIV-positive, and the movie discusses how this affects their everyday lives, and how they're able (or unable) to get access to healthcare. …

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