Black Covid Care is about Black health, and these stories focus on initiatives to vaccinate, test, and treat Black people in ways that center dignity and humanity.
Mary Eliza Mahoney is regarded as the first black nurse in U.S. History. She entered the New England Hospital's nursing program at the age of 33 and was the first black nurse to graduate from an American Nursing School with a professional nursing license in the U.S. Prior to pursuing nursing education, she worked in the New England Hospital for over 15 years as a janitor, cook, washerwoman, and nurse's aide. She played a pivotal role in the creation of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) in 1908 to fight against discrimination in the nursing profession and to increase access to nursing education for the black community.
Dr. Edward Moten was the first and only Black doctor in Denton County, Texas during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. History serves as a reminder of how global pandemics have a disproportionate impact on communities of color, as echoes true for the Covid-19 pandemic. As medical treatment was segregated in 1918, Dr. Moten was the only black doctor in the county helping the Black community, which goes on to represent limited access to quality medical care for communities of color.
“It’s Okay to Cry” by Yinka Bernie is an ode to accepting and expressing your emotions. The melancholy tone of the song and its subject matter is undercut by the repetition of the phrase, “It’s okay to cry”. This simple reminder brings some light into a dark moment, encouraging us to let our emotions happen. The song ends with a simple but powerful gesture, “breath in, breath out”.
South African photographer Tsoku Maela uses his photography as a vessel to discuss what It is like to live with mental illness as well as to display his own experiences. His Abstract Peaces series evokes surreal imagery to depict isolation and dissociation but also the opportunity for growth. Maela believes that within the struggle of living with mental illness, there lies the possibility to rediscover oneself and that this idea (as well as what it is like to live with mental illness) needs to be communicated to black people to create a better understanding.
God’s Way Christian Baptist Church, located in Taylor, Texas, organizes community dialogues and provides resources on mental health to the black community to combat stigma and increase awareness of mental health issues and steps forward. The ministers and pastors act as not only spiritual leaders but also as educators and organize dialogues to discuss topics such as the role of mental health in the criminal justice system to develop better responses from law enforcement. The Wellness and Empowerment Community Ministries initiatives create a strong space for inclusivity and empathy to educate the black community on mental health and foster a similar sense of community amongst multiple churches.
Eating disorders within the black community have historically been encouraged by systematic poverty and food insecurity, lack of access to healthcare, and stigma from within and outside of the black community. However, there has been an increased push to talk about eating disorders within black communities, as well as the intersection between race and mental health, by black doctors, therapists, and others in the health community. Events such as the “Ancestral Legacies & Eating Disorders in Black Communities” talk discuss the impact eating disorders have on the black community and discuss how to overcome ancestral trauma to embrace healing.
Kiara Whack is a chef and mental health advocate from Hampton, Virginia who is using her background in psychology and her personal experiences to educate people on how changing your diet can change your mental state. She educates people on the power of superfoods through her company Traveling Thyme Bomb, LLC, and has published a memoir of her experiences and lessons titled Dis(Re)covery: An Autobiography for Edible Consumption.
Soul Fire Farm is an organization founded by a black Jewish family in Albany, NY initially to provide fresh food to their community. Since the farm’s founding, it has grown into a large program that has a nationwide impact, distributing food to thousands of people and working with thousands more through youth programs and community workshops. The group uses afro-indigenous farming practices (like agroforestry and polyculture) to regenerate the ecosystem in addition to planting a variety of crops and raising livestock to create biological diversity. The food the farm produces is distributed to communities living under food apartheid and those disproportionately affected by systematic state violence.
The Baltimore Compost Collective is an organization that collects food scraps and other compostable materials to contribute to the compost pile at the Filbert Street Community Garden to grow to produce and combat urban food insecurity. The organization also functions as a youth entrepreneurship program that trains local teenagers in community-scale composting, food access programming, and other skills applicable to the workforce.
During quarantine, Baltimore-based food designer and social practice artist Krystal C. Mack created "How To Take Care," a digital community zine featuring recipes, poems, journal prompts, and meditations. The project is intended to serve as a "motivational tool for you on the path to mental and physical respite in uncertain times." Released in March of 2020 for $5, all of the proceeds from "How To Take Care" support victims of domestic violence. This project is a beautiful example of how Black women have cared for themselves and their communities during periods of isolation and kept each other well in these unprecedented times.