Virtual volunteering event

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: How Black Women for Wellness is empowering the black community to become more empathetic

Empower Black women and girls

Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday held on the third Monday of January. It celebrates the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr., an influential American civil rights leader. He is most well-known for his campaigns to end racial segregation on public transport and for racial equality in the United States.

We were lucky enough to have an insightful conversation with Jan Robinson Flint, Founder of Black Women for Wellness, a nonprofit organization that is committed to healing, supporting, and educating black women and girls through health education, empowerment, and advocacy.

Q
Why is it important to talk about the rights of people of color?

Janette – Even in 2022, our maternal and infant death rate is about the same, maybe worse than in 1619 when the first slave ship landed in the United States. So what that means is 246%, more likely that a black woman will die from giving birth, and it is 11 times more likely that a black baby will die before their first birthday than anyone else in the United States.

So for us, this work is heartfelt; it is very much passionate for me. I say that also because I’m a new grandmother. And my grandchild is four months old. I had to stop looking at data, facts and statistics and focus on my daughter and grandchild’s health.

When we look at the voting patterns of black women in this country, we are the moral compass of this country. We are the moral conscience. Our votes are always on the side of progress.

When we empower black women and girls, we empower the conscious people and do the right thing, who tend to be lifting everyone, not simply themselves.

Q
What is reproductive justice? How does it impact our society?

Janette – The shortcut we use when we talk about reproductive justice is the right to have a child or not have a child or to raise your child. But it is all those things that come along with those rights. Just because you have rights, does not mean you can exercise them. So part of what we do, for example, when we say reproductive justice, we talk about housing. We talk about migration, we talk about climate, we talk about exposure to toxic chemicals in terms of the environment, and we talk about voting. So there are so many intersecting issues around this issue of reproductive justice.

We look forward to a black lives being able to connect with women around the world, women globally, so we can begin to share. Some of the solutions that everybody has found are something that works for all of us or something that we can tweet and work from here. Or something that you know they can tweet that works for that type of thing so reproductive justice to go back to your original question, means that we are looking at the intersection of all the social justice issues that influence and impact women’s decisions around theirs.

Q
What were the challenges faced by Black Women for Wellness? How did you overcome them?

Janette – So everybody was asked to move to this virtual platform due to the lockdown. I feel like Zoom has entered into all of our worlds now. So we suggested to our staff if we can be in touch via Zoom and try to work virtually. Not everybody was at the same speed or the same level in terms of having internet access at home, having the computers they need, or having the right light, or having headphones and all the different things that come along when you are now living in a virtual world.

So the first thing that we had to do was to figure out where people were, and then bring everyone up to speed. I want to say we need to up our game around technology.

We found out that so many businesses are getting shut down. The Farmers Market was shut down. The caterers were out of business because nobody was having a party or any event. So we put bags of produce together in our parking lot. And then people in the neighbourhood and community came by and got a bag of food. We worked with a couple of funders who understood that we could create a win-win situation. And food wouldn’t go to waste because then there was a food price gouging that started to happen.

Q
How can society come up to support and help nonprofits like yours with this cause?

Janette – There are a lot of different ways that nonprofits can be helped and supported. So of course, you can get money, which is very helpful, no doubt about it. But there are other things that one can do also like one can volunteer. It can be both in presence and online. It’s possible to promote or tag their social media and keep it moving forward. So you can tag Black Women for Wellness on our Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram account, and keep moving things forward.

There are so many ways to be creative and to be helpful to organizations that weave our societies and cultures together. So in the part that we have to be reminded of is that everybody brings expertise, and everyone has room to learn something, and then share something in that regard.

Q
Is there any last message you would like to share with our audience?

Janette – Everyone can be a philanthropist. More than 5,000 people have donated to us and they donate 5, 10, 100 dollars for whatever they have in their heart and it makes a significant difference to our organization.

It gives us the flexibility to do a little bit more with the food distribution. Also, it gives us a little bit more flexibility to do the programs that we need to do and want to do, without having to write a proposal and wait on pins and needles to see if it was going to be funded.

So it was a lot of folks putting together their dollars that made a big pile. You can be a philanthropist, you don’t have to give away 10s of 1000s or hundreds of 1000s or even millions of dollars, you can do what you can do, and still, be a philanthropist.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has become the most recognized day on the calendar for community service. King spoke of service, community, empowerment, and nonviolence. Let’s build a world which Martin Luther King envisioned for all of us.

Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day with Black Women for wellness and Goodera

Goodera empowers nonprofits such as Black Women for Wellness through brand advocacy, fundraising, and long-term volunteers.

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