My pain is real and the medical system is broken, misogynoir is more pervasive than what is generally perceived, and Black women deserve to been seen.
By Jazmine JoynerI was an antisocial 7th grader who wanted nothing more than to read books and watch movies. Being the new kid at my middle school, I had no friends and spent most of my days in the library reading “Fear Street”books. My closest friend was the librarian Mrs. Stanley, a tiny white woman with coke bottle glasses and a blonde pageboy haircut. I would eat lunch with her in that library, talk about books, and what I was learning in class. I felt truly invisible in my school and in an effort to appease my father (who loved sports and thought I should try out for some) and to make some friends, I tried out for the track and field team. Practices would start off with running and conditioning, something I particularly hated. Cardio has never been my strong suit, and back then I struggled to even finish a mile. It was during one of my first practices that I felt a sharp throbbing pain in my lower left abdomen. It felt like I was being burned and stabbed at the same time—it took the breath from my lungs.The pain would often show up as soon as I started running and I would fall to my knees on that dead grass, gasping for air and holding my side. I told my coach about the pain I was experiencing, and she said to me it was just cramps. I had recently started having periods so I had no idea what was right and what was wrong when it came to menstrual pain. So when she said it was cramps I just took her word for it, she had to have been right. Right? Turns out she was so very wrong. The pain just got worse and it wasn’t just when I ran or was physically active, it happened all day, every day. I would stand up to go to my next class and the razor blade like “cramp” would spring to life and send me abruptly back down into my seat. I would walk in between passing periods bent over like a praying mantis, clenching my teeth, sweating like crazy, trying my hardest to get through the day. I went to see my doctor and when I voiced my concerns that the cramps where constant even when I wasn’t on my period, she told me that I was overreacting and that it was normal. So I took Motrin and continued to push through the daily pain. One night I woke up vomiting, the cramps had reached a level I can only describe as full blown labor contractions (which I later learned was very similar, if not worse to the end stages of contractions). I was crying, rocking, and folded like a lawn chair. I couldn’t keep anything down. I was bleeding through every pad and tampon I put on, and I can remember thinking I was dying, that this was it I was going to bleed to death and die. I built up the strength to hobble to my mother's room. It was around 3:00 am, and I was the only one who was awake in the house. I knocked on her door, walked in, and she took one look at me and leapt out of bed.
Beyoncé creates space for Blackness regardless of her audience, and it's empowering to witness.
By Jazmine JoynerBeyoncé officially changed the game, again, this past Saturday. Her performance at Coachella not only broke streaming records for the festival, but when she took the stage, she also became the first Black woman to ever headline the massively popular music festival, to which she responded, “Ain’t that a bitch?”"Beychella"— a phrase coined by DJ Khaled to describe the impact Beyoncé's performance had on the festival — was a celebration of Black culture, specifically Black collegiate culture, with shout-outs to HBCU Fraternities and Sororities, marching bands, and step teams. Beyoncé created one of the Blackest performances I have ever seen performed at Coachella. Her mother, Tina Lawson, shared on Instagram her concerns for her daughter's performance; “I told Beyoncé that I was afraid that the predominately white audience at Coachella would be confused by all of the Black culture and Black college culture, because it was something that they might not get.” Her daughter’s response to these concerns were thoughtful, “I have worked very hard to get to the point where I have a true voice, and at this point in my life and my career I have a responsibility to do what's best for the world and not what is most popular.”Beychella was by far the most impressive performance I have ever seen put on by any performer. She took the Coachella stage, and gave one hell of a show. Coachella is the ultimate white space—an overpriced festival for privileged white kids to go out into the desert and wear problematic outfits and dance to their favorite bands. It wasn’t until 2014 that the festival started hosting more of a variety of mainstream hip-hop and R&B acts on its lineup. Past headliners were mostly white, featuring Arcade Fire, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phoenix, and Kings of Leon.
In honor of Women’s History Month, check out the work of these BIWOC comics writers.
As a medium and an industry, comics aren’t always kind to women, especially women of color. Mainstream comic book companies seem to hire them once in
Let’s be clear: Jessica Chastain helping Octavia Spencer is not the biggest story here.
By Candice FrederickWhen I attended the fantastic “Women Breaking Barriers” panel at Sundance Film Festival recently, I wondered if a very pivotal moment in the conversation that centered on equality, the #MeToo movement, and creating spaces for women of power in Hollywood would even be mentioned in mainstream publications. Why? Because the moment came from a black woman, Oscar-winning actress and friend in my head Octavia Spencer, who was amid a conversation about the much-discussed pay gap in Hollywood when she interrupted the status quo to simply state, “If we’re going to talk about the pay gap, we have to bring women of color into the conversation.” Mic drop.I tweeted about it at the time, and it barely got any traction, which I thought was interesting but not unsurprising. All the conversations and think pieces I’ve read about the pay gap in Hollywood have failed to mention that there’s not only a wide difference between men and women’s salaries but also between white and non-white actresses. https://twitter.com/ReelTalker/status/954843747291836416 Because it seems to be easier to set white women’s challenges as the default for all women in Hollywood, rather than acknowledge any nuance particularly when it comes to race. But, flash forward nearly a week afterward and it was finally covered by mainstream media, and in fact it has become the lead story from the panel. Though, in a way that merely glazes over the main issue. Being one of the very few women of color journalists in the room listening to Spencer as she followed this statement with the now famous story of how her friend Jessica Chastain “walked the walk” to help her now earn 5 times her salary was significant. Spencer was emotional, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I too was and remain moved by Chastain’s selflessness and diligence to fight against the status quo in Hollywood even though it was not something that directly impacted her. To Spencer’s own admission, Chastain didn’t even know this was an issue. So, bravo. That is what an actual ally looks like. But let’s be clear: Chastain helping Spencer is not the biggest story here. Spencer spoke out about a singular issue affecting women of color in a very white feminist space that until that point offered a very broad perspective about some of the important issues that women face in Hollywood. It was a poignant pivot in front of a mostly white crowd that was left virtually silent as she told her story. That is nothing to sneeze over. Perhaps only if you have ever been a woman of color in a white space speaking out about a very specific issue about which most of the room cannot fathom, could you understand how boss this was. Spencer didn’t sound angry (though she would have had every right to be). She didn’t sound sad. She was very matter-of-fact about it, determined to express something that to me and many other women of color is our everyday as we navigate white supremacy. And it is usually ignored, discarded, and undervalued in general feminist dialogue.
I wish that my name, and the rest of my existence, was untouched by white colonialism.
My name has nine letters and three syllables, and is an amalgamation of the names of my parents: Shirley and Ronald. It is not hard to