Womanist AIDS Activism in the United States: “It’s Who We Are” is an in-depth exploration of AIDS advocacy work among Black women. Based on interviews gathered from thirty-six Black women AIDS activists from across the nation, Angelique Harris and Omar Mushtaq examine the ways in which race, gender, sexuality, and spirituality influence the motivations and approaches behind the efforts of the women in the study. The authors use womanism—an epistemological framework that centers the world views of women of color—to better situate this activism within a larger sociocultural and historical context. They find that identity, spirituality, emotions, and experiences with AIDS knowledge all influence the ways in which these activists approached their community activism work. The authors analyze womanism in detail and propose ways in which this framework can be applied more broadly in examinations of community engagement among women of color, and specifically Black women.
Angelique Harris is associate professor of medicine at Boston University and director of faculty development and diversity in the Department of Medicine and director of faculty development at Boston University Medical Campus.
Omar Mushtaq is lecturer at Chapman University.
Chapter 1: Introduction and Theoretical Framework
Chapter 2: Identity and Social Justice
Chapter 3: Religion and Spirituality in AIDS Activism
Chapter 4: Emotions: Love, Anger, and Solidarity
Chapter 5: Education and Social Change
Chapter 6: Conclusion
Appendix A: Toward an Embodied Womanist Methodology
Appendix B: The Activists and their Stories
The unapologetic application of womanism to improve the health of Black communities is culturally congruent with the spiritual, ancestral, emotional, and physical essence of Black peoples. This book expertly applies womanism to AIDS activism, advocacy, and sociopolitical involvement, particularly emphasizing the role of Black women as activists in the U.S. In doing so, the authors move beyond the personal as political towards the personal as survival, for all people. Indeed, 'Those most structurally marginalized within Black communities – for example, gay and bisexual men, intravenous (IV) drug users, and women (both trans and cisgender) – are disproportionately affected by AIDS.' The authors use the stories of women activists to demonstrate the epistemological and applied underpinnings of womanism. Womanism is the way to heal our communities and this book reframes community-based approaches and action in a way that truly heals.