Forward Together at 25: We are Echoing Ida!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

This post is part of our 25th anniversary blog series, "Forward Together at 25." 

Echoing Ida exists to support and amplify the voices of Black women – encouraging them to tell their stories and propose solutions to the issues they see in their communities. With 15 Idas and plans to expand over the next year, we are developing generations of thought leaders and skilled communicators for the social justice movement.

Each “Ida” has a unique voice and story. Every Ida is engaged in work to transform our communities. It was this time two years ago that this project began as a pilot program of Forward Together. Now during our 25th anniversary and with over 100 pieces under our belt, we thought it would be a good time to reflect on some of our Ida favorites. We hope our namesake, Ida B. Wells-Barnett would be proud. We hope you are, too.

Alex Moffett Bateau: Chronic Pain, and the Denial of Care for Black Women, RH Reality Check, March 2014.

“Women of color should not have to prove the legitimacy of their illnesses in order to get treatment. Perhaps this can only happen with the dismantling of racism, but for the sake of my sisters in chronic pain, I hope it doesn’t take that long.”

Alicia M. Walters: Policing African American Motherhood from Every Angle, RH Reality Check, January 2013.

“…there is a systemic movement hell bent on our incarceration, the separation of our families, and ultimately, our loss of humanity. Whether the right is attempting to culturally shame and legally prevent our access to abortion or target us for incarceration, above all, they seek to police Black bodies and criminalize Black motherhood thereby limiting our power of self-determination and autonomy.”

Amber J. Phillips: Love Thy Self Fiercely: How Self-Love Makes for Better Health Care, RH Reality Check, March 2014.

“Being my mother’s daughter, even down to carrying her diva gene, I’ve had to actively fight my own fear of proactively making doctor appointments. This is an issue that is so common in Black communities and yet is being ignored as the health care and Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment conversations continue to take place in the media. In all the frenzy to get people to enroll, the president paints a rosy picture for some while ignoring that this health-care discussion is particularly important to historically marginalized multicultural communities, specifically Black women, whose health goes far beyond whether we have insurance coverage.”

Annika Leonard: I Am Annika, I Am All, Strong Families Blog, October 2012.

“I am a child witness to domestic, sexual and community violence.
I am a survivor of sexual assault.
I am but if you love her how could you hurt her?
I am a man of God, but I’ll beat the sh*t out of your mom Monday through Saturday when no one’s looking.
I am forgive but don’t forget, yeah he touches little kids but he’s safe to be in the church unattended.”

Bianca Campbell: The Resilience of Black Breastfeeding, The Root, May 2014.

“Formula was, and continues to be, pitched as empowering for women—a promise that they could return to work sooner. It is a promise that my mother and millions of parents believed in. It provided a way for parents to continue supporting their families without having to worry about loss of pay…[but] what is pitched as empowerment can actually restrict the choices of families.”

Cynthia Greenlee: What Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta Can Teach Us About Repro Rights,, August 2013.

“…regardless of how you feel about the show's creator Mona Scott-Young, she has done one thing right. With abortion storylines involving self-proclaimed “Puerto Rican princess” Joseline and underground rapper Rasheeda, the show is the rare television show tackling this divisive social and political issue.”

Elizabeth Dawes Gay: Do We Love Black Mothers Enough?, Huffington Post, May 2014.

“Maybe it's that trope of the strong Black woman that makes people believe we don't need special care or attention when we are pregnant. People -- including Black women -- expect that we should and will handle whatever comes our way, keep it all together, and take care of everything ourselves -- pregnant or not. This Superwoman Syndrome is detrimental and potentially deadly.”

Gloria Malone: Teen Moms Win Too: Why I'm Glad I Had My Daughter at 15, Vitamin W, March 2014.

“I like to think that being a teenage mother has made me more human to myself and my daughter. While society is focused on the negative outcomes of teenage parenting, I am certain that if hadn’t been a teenage parent, I would not be the person that I am proud of and love being today. I have accomplished my goals in life and continue to strive to improve because I was a teen mom, not in spite of it.”

Jasmine Burnett: The Media’s Role in Attaining Justice for Black and Missing Persons, RH Reality Check, August 2014.

“[The] lack of regard for the safety of Black people and the protection of our rights is symptomatic of the established order of white supremacy in this country, which must be dismantled. Dismantling white supremacy is a tall order, and one way to start is through equity in media exposure as an entry point for re-education.”

“When the media neglects to cover these stories, it is omitting the fact that people care about missing Black women, and permitting the conditions for this toxic environment of invisibility and violent actions with no recourse to thrive.”

Jazmine Walker: What Happened to the ‘Affordable’ Part of the Affordable Care Act? RH Reality Check, July 2014.

“While I am happy to play my part in making affordable health insurance accessible for all Americans, young people like me also need some support. And through a combination of political grandstanding, lack of foresight, and poor implementation, federal and state governments have failed to hold up their ends of the deal to make health care available and affordable for all Americans.”

Malika Redmond: Improving Health Equity in Georgia, The Atlanta Voice, February 2014.

“Today, while our leaders find ways to pass the buck on Georgians’ health, we the people are gathering for a day of action to demand that they accept federal funding to increase health coverage for the low-income uninsured. We believe that how much one does or does not earn for their work should have no impact on whether they are able to see a doctor or get the care they need.”

Renee Bracey Sherman: How to Listen When a Loved One Says ‘I Had an Abortion’,, January 2014.

“We all face challenges in our lives. We all have that secret that we’re afraid our family and friends will judge us for, and we crave connection and acceptance. You’ll never know how many of the one in three women who’ve had abortions are in your family or circle of friends unless you open the space for conversation and show that you can Stop, Drop, and Listen.”

Samantha Daley: Lessons From the Kitchen, Strong Families Blog, April 2014.

“What strikes me now about this unique and yet universal way I was raised is how far American culture has strayed from it. Obsessed with parenting perfectly and trying to do it all on our own, modern mamas must remember what our foremothers knew—that mothering happens in community and is far too much for one woman alone to bear. All these women taught me the importance of breaking bread, and how powerful of a tool that can be for learning and growth, laughter, and helping to move forward.”

Shanelle Matthews: When Sexual Harassment is on the Menu,, June 2014.

“Because the restaurant industry is the largest employer of people of color, and women make up half of the people working in this business, we are disproportionately subjected to this type of workplace harassment. At the same time, the restaurant industry is the largest low wage employer with millions of women dependent on tips to survive. Therefore in many cases earning a living requires us to have to put up with predatory behavior.”

Taja Lindley: Exam Rooms and Bedrooms: Navigating Queer Sexual Health, RH Reality Check, March 2014.

“Indeed, people are having all kinds of sex, regardless of how they identify their orientation; we need a health-care system that is prepared to address everyone’s questions, issues, and concerns about sex, sexuality, and sexual and reproductive health. Unfortunately, sex education and sexual health services remain within a hetero-normative context. This must change.”

Guest Posts:

Leajay Harper: Life’s Unexpected Journeys, Strong Families Blog, January 2013.

“Following my termination, I was faced with explaining to my girls that it was going to be hard for us for a while, but we had each other and we would stay strong. We packed up a suitcase with our clothes and boxed everything else to take to our storage unit. We said goodbye to a place that we called our home for so long and the memories we created together as a family.”

L. Michelle Odom and Naimah Johnson: When Zero Tolerance Makes Zero Sense, Strong Families Blog, June 2013.

“So many young Black girls identify with the images in mainstream media and have little promise to rest on for their future, because society has presented to them with a world where success, fame and media attention comes from criminalized activity, rather than educationally, spiritually sound practice, which can uplift them and their communities.”

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