DES MOINES, Iowa — The statistics surrounding Black women and healthcare speak for themselves.
“There is a health literacy aspect of it, health equity, there is a trust factor, there is implicit bias and there is access. All of those things impact their well-being and understanding, and the gap between the healthcare system and Black women,” said Angela Mickens-Bolden, the Vice President of Black Women 4 Healthy Living.
Black women enter menopause eight and a half months earlier than white women, are three to four times more likely to die during childbirth than white women, and have a 40 percent higher mortality rate from breast cancer than white women.
“So with Black women, just their baseline, they are already at risk,” said Mickens-Bolden.
It’s organizations like Black Women 4 Health Living that are empowering women to take control of their own health.
“A lot of times, in a community like being in Iowa, and you hear about things that affect other women, and well they affect us or show up with us differently,” said Brandi Miller, President of Black Women 4 Healthy Living.
The organization hosts a monthly Black Women’s Health Coalition to link women with resources.
“The goal of the health coalition is to bridge Black women to the health care community,” said Miller.
It offers resources like health and mental assessments, group physical activities, and provides a healthy meal, all while connecting Black women to health care providers.
“It’s a safe space for us to learn and grow and learn more about just various health dynamics that are unique to black women and from the perspective of a Black woman,” said Miller.
Brandi, who has gone through the coalition herself, says she created the event when she saw a need for women in her community that were struggling to prioritize their health. With an overall mission to see Black women well in mind, healthy in body, and strong in spirit.
“For whatever reason, we think we’re superwoman, and that we wear capes, and we fly and we save the world,” said Miler.
The coalition helps to give Black women access, something that Black Women 4 Healthy Living says hasn’t always been the case.
“There is a historical piece to it, and a systematic racism that hinders them from living well. And for Black Women 4 Healthy Living, we are just bringing out awareness and supporting, encouraging, and empowering black women to prioritize their life and their health,” said Mickens-Bolden.
Allowing Black women a place to be heard, ask questions, and share their concerns while giving them the tools to live well.
Serving 37 area Black women last year, and 21 so far this year, Black Women 4 Healthy Living is shaping how their members prioritize their health.
“We’re trying to address that in a way to get women to start thinking about themselves and that it is not selfish, and that if you don’t put your oxygen mask on, then you can’t save anybody else,” said Miller.