Thursday, September 13, 2012
Health Studies as Black Studies: Body and Soul
In Body and Soul, Alondra Nelson's examinations of the Black Panther Party's health activism creates an opportunity for us to take a different look at a familiar group. Nelson's book shifts the focus from the popular image of the Panthers as gun-toting, beret-wearing militants and concentrates on their healthcare advocacy and engagements with science.
In the past, we were inclined to think about militancy and political activities of the Panthers as an inspiring model of black studies. But what happens when we consider their efforts related to healthcare as a teachable moment or guide for how we approach black studies?
African American well-being has long been an important topic in discussions about black studies. Somehow though, prior to Nelson's book, we rarely included the Panthers in those conversations. A reconsideration of a black militant activist group as a black militant health activist group is a timely and important task, especially now given the national concerns and discourse on healthcare.
Related: URG: Notebook on Alondra Nelson's Body and Soul