A Conversation with the Authors of Black Women and Da ‘Rona

Episode Summary:

The conversation, hosted by Dr. Keisha Bentley-Edwards, discusses the history of how pandemics have affected Black women worldwide. With co-editors Dr. Julia Jordan-Zachery and Dr. Shamara Wyllie Alhassan, we learn how there is a lack of Black women’s stories when it comes to pandemics and how Covid-19 has exposed the lack of infrastructure in place to take care of vulnerable populations. In the conversation, Julia, Shamara and Keisha discuss the ways in which Black women have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Julia explains that this is in part due to the structural issues that Black women face, such as housing and mental illness. Keisha adds that this is also due to the fact that Black women are often not considered when discussions about HIV and AIDS, heart disease, and pregnancy are had.

Not only do these women discuss the concept of care, community, and consciousness in relation to the book, but also the experience of collecting the stories of other women through these stories, and supporting them as they captured their own legacies. This group discusses how the book was created with an ethic of care, and how this project has created a cohesive space where people are able to speak to and draw from each other.

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • Disproportionate impact of pandemics and illness on Black women
  • Black Women’s Experiences with HIV and AIDS
  • The Importance of Data Collection in Social Sciences
  • The Impact of Communal Writing on Black Women’s Lives
  • The Importance of Intentionality in Writing

Resources Mentioned in this episode:

Episode transcript:

Full episode transcript can be found here


  • Hear and LISTEN to Black women
  • Create a space for all stories and legacies to be heard and told

SHAMARA WYLLIE ALHASSAN is an assistant professor of religious studies with a focus on the Black experience in the Americas in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Arizona State University. Alhassan specializes in African women’s radical epistemologies. Her manuscript Re-Membering the Maternal Goddess: Rastafari Women’s Intellectual History and Activism in the Pan-African World is the winner of the 2019 National Women’s Association and the University of Illinois Press First Book Prize.

JULIA S. JORDAN-ZACHERY is a professor and chair of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Wake Forest University. She has written a number of articles and is the author of several books, including the award-winning Black Women, Cultural Images, and Social Policy. She is the co-editor of Black Girl Magic Beyond the Hashtag: Twenty-First-Century Acts of Self-Definition and editor of Lavender Fields: Black Women Experiencing Fear, Agency, and Hope in the Time of COVID-19.

KEISHA L. BENTLEY-EDWARDS is an associate professor at Duke University’s School of Medicine, General Internal Medicine Division, and the associate director of research and director of the Health Equity Working Group for the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity. She is a developmental psychologist who uses a cultural lens to understand the human experience and health outcomes. Her research focuses on how racism, gender, and culture influence social, physical, and emotional health as well as academic outcomes.