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Phillis Wheatley, the first African American published poet, died at age 31. The strength of her work and the courage of her being did not protect her from sickness during a cold Boston winter. Legendary scholars like Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Barbara Christian, Nellie McKay, Elizabeth Amelia Hadley, and most recently Aaronette M. White died long before their time. Some Black Feminist visionaries sell their labor to the university for stability and healthcare benefits. Many Black Feminist visionaries believe that the racial politics and institutional and intellectual violence of the university are carcinogenic. To rephrase Barbara Smith’s question at the 1976 MLA convention: Is it possible to be a Black woman academic and live?
As another early dead genius, Toni Cade Bambara, asks us at the start of her novel The Salt Eaters, are we sure we want to be well? This forum organized by The Feminist Wire asks us to engage whether and how we want to be well. Engaging research and writing on health outcomes of Black Women Academics, concepts of self-care, legacies of Black women navigating the academy, disparities research, and personal reflections, we want to know what you think. What is possible? What is necessary? What does our work mean to us and what is it worth? How can allies and the larger structures better support and sustain healthy lives? What narratives of sacrifice are we inheriting and passing on? What does wellness feel like, anyway? And how can we know?
Please submit essays, stories, or research briefs of up to 1,500 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by October 5, 2012. Also include a brief bio and a picture. [Note: This issue will be the first of several theme issues to address the health of various communities of women of color, LGBTQ health, and the health of gender non-conforming people.]
Towards the world we deserve to live in.