Thomas Fuller once said that “Health is not valued ’till sickness comes.” It’s an unfortunate but true quote. I know my own good health is something I too often take for granted. Maybe it was that lack of gratitude that allowed me to carelessly overlook healthcare as a necessary topic in the series until my editor, the unsung hero of this project, suggested we dive into it. Many times we also overlook the role of preventive healthcare—getting routine check-ups, eating healthy, exercising regularly, etc.—to maintain good health. I will not-so-proudly admit I’m one of the biggest culprits of this, too often relying on my speedy metabolism and youth to get me through and ignoring that both of those things will be gone soon enough. As the old adage says, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure.”
Writing Part 4 has undoubtedly been the most challenging section of this series for me to craft, forcing me to sift through countless statistics in order to paint the nuanced picture of black women and our health. But, what I learned most is that there is not a pretty way to paint that nuanced picture. It’s a messy work of art, filled with contradictions, new laws, repealed laws and rewritten laws. It’s an abstract work of art, splattered with the muddy colors of sexual health statistics while our own agency and power too often remains invisible on that canvas. It’s an incomplete work of art as we struggle to keep up with new acts and understand the financial landscape of healthcare in America. But every now and again when we see a tribe of people stand behind women like Sylvia and contribute to the betterment of a person’s health, then it is a beautiful work of art indeed.
The War on Black Women’s Bodies will continue next week with Part 5 The Battle for Revival: Mind and Spirit, a critical piece tackling mental health and spirituality. And don’t forget to join me and Part 3 co-writer Erica of EverythingEnJ TONIGHT at 8 p.m. EST for a very special Twitter chat where we will discuss all six parts of The War on Black Women’s Bodies!