In honor of Black History Month, we are proud to support Black Women for Wellness, a nonprofit committed to the health and well-being of Black women and girls through health education, empowerment, and advocacy. Not only will we provide a financial contribution to help further Black Women for Wellness’ efforts, but you can look for more content this month about their work building healthy communities for Black women.

We encourage you to learn more and consider making a donation. A special thank you goes out to Jan Robinson Flint, executive director of Black Women for Wellness, for taking the time to speak with us this month. 

GCL: Tell us a bit about your organization and your mission. What motivates you to do this work? What inspires you to show up every day?

BWW: For more than 20 years, Black Women for Wellness has been a multi-generational, community-based organization committed to the well being of Black women and girls. Together with my co-founders, we set out to build healthy communities through health education, empowerment, and advocacy. Today, we do this through a range of programs—from sex education, to cooking classes, to civic engagement opportunities.

2020 was an especially meaningful year to do this work. COVID-19 has been disproportionately impacting communities of color, and uprisings around the nation have demanded a wider recognition of racial injustices. BWW is working hard to meet the needs of this moment and beyond—this has meant launching a food distribution program to provide healthy meals for women and families, supporting small business owners as they navigate the impact of coronavirus, and creating online community to support Black women during these incredibly stressful times.

GCL: What kind of disparities or bias might black women encounter when it comes to their health?

BWW: Black women face systemic injustices that create barriers to care at many points. Racial bias in health systems contributes to unacceptably high maternal mortality rate—among Black mothers, mortality rates are four times as high as white women.

Other reproductive challenges also impact Black women disproportionately. Crisis pregnancy centers often target women of color and undermine their reproductive freedom, and Black moms are often not given the breastfeeding support they deserve.

Black women’s health is also affected by factors outside the health system. Hair, beauty, and cleaning products marketed toward Black women often contain harmful chemicals. Black neighborhoods are more likely to be negatively impacted by industry pollutants. Police violence and racist legal structures disproportionately affect the health and lives of women and their families.

GCL: Something that impressed our team is the vast scope of programming that you offer – from chronic disease prevention to voter education. Tell us about some of the resources and tools you use to support the women you serve. How do you see your role in the community?

BWW: Black women have a wide range of needs, and our programming reflects this. Wellness is about physical and mental health, but it’s also about empowerment. This can mean having the knowledge and resources to cook healthy meals, or the skills to negotiate safe sex, or the ability to vote.

We think about wellness in the places where we live, work, and play. Taking this perspective, you can see why we engage on such a broad spectrum of issues.

For example, helping women manage diabetes supports wellness at home, banning harmful chemicals in Black beauty products supports wellness in salons, and advocating for environmental toxin-free communities supports wellness in neighborhood play areas.

GCL: How could our followers get involved with supporting Black Women for Wellness?

BWW: Attend a program: I invite all people to connect with us! Join our community to access resources and learn more about Black women’s health and wellness issues—we frequently host events (online for now) on a range of topics, and the best way to find out about those is to sign up for notifications at bwwla.org.

Partner with us: If you have business or work for an employer that is interested in supporting Black women, we love to get creative with partnerships.

Donations are sincerely appreciated: And of course, financial contributions are always appreciated, including employer-matched gifts.

Fundraising with your people: We’ve been thrilled with the creative ways people have raised money for BWW this past year—from row-a-thons to group hikes to product sales proceeds. Many people opt to give online at bwwla.org, but we’re happy to make other arrangements.

You can also become a member and support us in one of the following ways. 

Participate in or organize a house party to talk about issues and invite us as a guest speaker

Volunteer: Text bank or phone bank from your home – from policy on maternal health to holding our elected representatives accountable to their platforms and agendas.