Black Women Take Their Health into Their Own Hands: The Het Heru Healing Dance and Auset Qigong
In this article, I draw primarily on Black women's scholarship on intersectionality as a theoretical framework and an analytical tool to explain why Black women have taken their health and wellness into their own hands. I explore the unorthodox ways Black women organize and participate in women's wellness activities in their communities as examples of culturally responsive informal political action, resistance politics, and complimentary approaches to health. Specifically, I rely on participatory action research and textual analysis to show how both the Het Heru Healing Dance and Auset Qigong, originating in Brooklyn, New York, are examples of the way Black women have taken command of their health and wellness in the context of a health-care system, driven by growth and profits, that undermines Black women's individual and collective definitions of health and wellness. Moreover, because of the failure of political institutions (government departments and agencies, congress, the senate, and public policy) and the health industry to address their specific concerns, Black women have developed these alternative and complimentary social and collective practices. The set of questions guiding this research include: (1) how do Black American women imagine their health? (2) Why is health/the body a site of resistance for Black women? (3) What brought the women to the healing dance and qigong? (4) What were the women's expectations going into the healing dance and/or qigong? (5) How have the women changed as a result of their participation in the dance and/or qigong? (6) How do I give meaning to the individual and collective experiences of organizers and participants of the healing dance and qigong?