Liberated Women Are Fighting Attacks On Healthcare For Women Of Color

Photo: Erin Patrice O'Brien.
A powerful new project from a group of activists is hoping to bring attention to the problems facing women of color and health care. Together, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Liberated People are launching Liberated Woman, a brand-new initiative aimed at bringing attention to the dangers of limiting and even eliminating reproductive rights and healthcare access.
Liberated Woman is a collaboration between writer and image activist Michaela Angela Davis and Liberated People, an organization founded by The Wire actor Gbenga Akinnagbe that works to bring awareness to the state of human rights around the globe. The brand brings together "art, culture, and politics" to help change the world. Teaming with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, their new line will feature a new design focusing on women's rights.
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"If patriarchal policies cut off women's access to quality, affordable reproductive health care, it's women of color who will suffer the most. Through Liberated Woman, we're amplifying the stories of the women who receive care at Planned Parenthood while celebrating the strength and breadth of women of color's resistance against political attacks," Davis explained in a statement. "This is a movement for all people — no person can be fully free if we all can’t freely support Black and brown women."
The Liberated Woman collection will be available through the Liberated People website and $5 from the sale of each T-shirt will go to Planned Parenthood, specifically benefitting the organization's work with women of color. In addition to Davis, the collab features fashion designer Mara Hoffman; Carmen Perez, the national co-chair of the Women's March on Washington; and Natarsha McQueen, the co-founder of Cancer Survivors Network for Planned Parenthood.
By focusing on minority women, who are disproportionately affected by a lifetime wage gap, according to Planned Parenthood, the Liberated Woman campaign will work to close the pay disparity. The American Association of University Women reports that in 2016, Latinas earned "54 cents for every dollar a white man makes." For Black women, that number rose to just 63 cents. Across the country, women of color more likely to be uninsured and dependent on the services provided by Planned Parenthood. Add the fact that for 40% of families, moms are the sole breadwinners and there's a clear problem.
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"Health disparities have the most significant impact on women of color who face continuous threats to their ability to receive essential reproductive health care — including birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment," Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood, said of the project. "Women's lives are at stake, and we can't afford to push these issues to the side. Planned Parenthood is proud to stand in solidarity with women of color and the many activists and organizations committed to ensuring their reproductive justice, and we call on all our supporters to join us."
Davis hopes that the project will bring awareness to the fact that women of color are often denied health care "due to the intersections of racism, sexism, classism, xenophobia, and other systemic barriers." By aiding Planned Parenthood, which provides access to "quality, affordable, and compassionate health care" to all women, Liberated Woman will be ensuring and protecting access, working against the House of Representatives' recent vote to limit health care and Medicaid coverage.
"For people facing the intersections of racism and poverty, struggling against attacks on the freedom to govern their own bodies can be especially daunting. But the women of color who stand to lose access to reproductive health services are not fighting alone," says Gbenga Akinnagbe, founder of Liberated People. "Planned Parenthood has stood with women of color for more than 100 years and now it’s time for all of us — regardless of gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation — to band together and support their right to autonomy and access to care."
To help promote the collection, Planned Parenthood released a video highlighting women of all ages and races sharing their own stories involving cancer screenings, endometriosis, and what it meant to have quality care available to them. Check out their stories in the video, below.
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