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When the famed civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer exclaimed that she was "sick and tired of being sick and tired" in a 1964 speech in Harlem, she not only brings attention to the extreme fatigue and rage at living under the violence of white supremacy and anti-Black racism; Hamer also sheds light on the physical and psychic toll of literal pain, bodily vulnerabilities and poor health outcomes among Black people that have historically been overlooked. This presentation articulates how this embodied marginalization mirrors the process and impact of oppression faced by HIV-positive, working-class women in postcolonial Jamaica.

Postdoctoral Fellow and incoming Assistant Professor in American Studies and Black Studies Jallicia Jolly grapples with the contemporary grassroots politics of Black Caribbean women’s organizing around health and illness as they expand the conception of rights and the human. She will contextualize the connections that Afro-diasporic scholars and actors-- such as Hamer as well as Frantz Fanon, James Baldwin, the Black Panthers, Peggy Antrobus and Loretta Ross --have long made between their political and structural conditions, the experiences of Black poor people, diseases and poor health outcomes. After describing the personal histories and situated contexts of HIV-positive Jamaican women in Kingston, Jolly will offer an analysis of how women’s racialized, class-based struggles over health care access and basic resources in their urban and rural communities demonstrate how they respond to local understandings of structural power relations and the attendant social meanings of politics, identity and what it means to be human while living with illness and inequality.

This talk will take place over Zoom. It is open to the public. Pre-registration is required.

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Heather Grimes
(413) 542-5870
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