The Gen Z Scoop on Black History Month & Healthcare

Ask Carmen and Maia how they describe themselves, and their responses are not what you expect. “I’m severely introverted,” says Carmen. “People say I’m fearless, but I’m really anxious,” adds Maia. Surprising responses given how powerful, intelligent, and witty they are in their Big Fish: Sink or Swim podcast whose slogan is “Taboos don’t exist here, Black women do”.

Carmen and Maia are two Gen Z Black women who met through their college’s radio station. After graduating, Maia wanted to start a podcast, but didn’t want to do it alone. Enter: Carmen. The duo started their podcast in August 2020, which is available on Apple, Spotify, and Google Pods (as a non-Black POC myself, I highly recommend giving it a listen!).

“What does Black History Month mean to you?”

With this month being Black History Month, I sat down with Maia and Carmen (virtually, of course, because ✨pandemic✨) to ask them what this month means to them. With the usual posts about MLK and Malcom X and the more recent posts about Kamala Harris and Amanda Gorman flooding my Instagram feed, I reflected on how little I knew about the historical significance of this month.

After doing a few Google searches, I learned that Black History Month is in February because it is the birth month of African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass and U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, who famously issued the Emancipation Proclamation. While Black History Month is notorious for landing on the shortest month of the year, it was created by American historian Carter G. Woodson, who pioneered the field of African American studies in the early 20th century, a subject that has been largely ignored by academics for centuries. 

So, to Gen Z women today, what does Black History Month mean? Carmen shares,

“When I was growing up, Black History Month was all about how we were slaves and now we’re not, because MLK saved us all. But it’s more than that. We’re more than enslaved people.” 

Maia chimes in, “Now that I’m 25, I feel like Black History Month is a month where we commemorate our culture. But honestly, Black history should be taught all year long, not just one month of the year.”

Is Black a trend?

In one of the Big Fish episodes “Ebony and Ivory” (which isfun factone of their favorite episodes), Carmen and Maia talk about what it means for non-Black folks to support Black people. And it’s not just about recognizing Black entertainment like the #Pandemmys did last September with Black actors having the most wins in a single year

I ask Carmen to elaborate on what they mean about Black “being a trend”: “Society has always been years behind in terms of celebrating culture and arts. It just felt performative. The BLM movement is about police brutality, Black liberation, defunding of the police, abolition, and mass incarceration, not about sitting at award shows, which people asked for way back when.” 

“It felt like a slap in the face.”

So, how can non-Black people support Black people? 

To Carmen and Maia, supporting the Black community is about giving the community the space to speak out. Over the summer, they were disappointed to see so many people using the Black squares because it overshadowed so many people’s actual posts about the BLM movement who were relying on the hashtag to amplify and share relevant, valuable content. Carmen summarizes it nicely,

“Allies are the echo and not the voice. Black people don’t need a savior. We know what we want.”

The health journey for Black women

When it comes to healthcare, it’s no doubt that the system is especially biased against Black women, more so than any other group. From the founder of Planned Parenthood Margaret Sanger being known to hold racist, eugenic views, to tennis player Serena Williams almost dying as a result of childbirth (peep our blog: From Slavery to Healthcare, America Continues to Fail Black Women), there are many challenges and troubling statistics that still exist for Black women. 

While Maia and Carmen share that they had a positive healthcare experience for the most part, they know all too well about the cautionary tales their families had told them about coming of age as Black women. I asked them how they would want their kid’s health journey to be different from theirs, if they had a kid in the future. Maia jumped in, 

“I want it to be as comprehensive as possible. I didn’t have a lot of options presented to me. I had to stick to the pill, even though I hated the particular brand I was on. I didn’t know about IUDs or Nexplanons.”

Carmen also shared that she uses the Aavia App (🥺) and told us that the app gives her insights on the consequences not moving around as much (during quarantine) has on her body and mind. Thanks for using Aavia 😘. We’re excited to keep improving the app so that we can continue catering it to everyone, regardless of color or gender. 

Comment below your thoughts of how the healthcare system can better cater to you 👇