Welcome to Our Lab!

The Black Feminist Reproductive Justice, Equity & HIV/AIDS Activism (BREHA) Collective is a new interdisciplinary lab that foregrounds the experiences, labor, and political visions of Afro-Diasporic girls, women, and gender diverse people in our shared and divergent struggles against reproductive injustice.

Our lab’s primary goal is to use our research, community partnerships, and multimedia advocacy to uplift the efforts and capacity of Black communities to combat a range of reproductive violences across structural, state, and scientific domains, such as HIV/AIDS stigma, obstetric racism, and inaccessible or withheld care.

BREHA is invested in collaborative study that honors the transnational work of our comrades and applies our learning in the service of movement building and collective action.

five members of the BREHA collective posing smiling for a group portrait

The BREHA Lab is founded and led by Dr. Jallicia Jolly, Assistant Professor of American Studies and of Black Studies at Amherst College, in collaboration with four inaugural student members: Ash Smith ’18, Talia Ward ’23, Fiona Yohannes ’25, and Isabella Ahmad ’25. Meet the Collective »

Four Main Objectives of BREHA’s Work

  1. To conduct culturally responsive and ethical research on the health outcomes, reproductive lives, and lived experiences of HIV/AIDS among Black girls, women, and gender diverse people with the primary aim of eliminating health inequities as well as elevating their activism and leadership.
  2. To equitably translate and disseminate research findings into informed reproductive justice-centered programming, pedagogy, and advocacy that educate our communities as well as respond to urgent ethical, political, and social concerns.
  3. To cultivate sustainable community partnerships with reproductive justice organizers and workers mobilizing for health equity in the U.S., Jamaica, and the broader African diaspora.
  4. To develop an infrastructure of student support and engagement in order to facilitate collaborative learning, critical reflection, and informed activism, while identifying ways to get involved with meaningful RJ opportunities.

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BREHA In the News

Knowledge and Action

“It matters to me that my work is meaningful and has some kind of impact,” says Ash Smith ’18, who is doing research for BREHA, Amherst's new Black Feminist Reproductive Justice, Equity & HIV/AIDS Activism Collective.

Read the recent Amherst News story covering the collaboration between Jallicia Jolly, assistant professor of American studies and Black studies, and a group of Amherst students studying and advancing reproductive justice.

Donate Supplies to Support Pregnant and Birthing Haitian & Latinx Migrant Families

Frost Library, Monday-Friday at 8 am–5 pm

Over 150 Haitian & Latinx migrant families seeking asylum are being temporarily housed at the Clarion Hotel in Taunton, Massachusetts. Taunton is a maternity desert, meaning pregnant and birthing migrants are experiencing a public health crisis due to lack of social supports, maternity and postpartum resources, and quality nutrition. As a result, migrants are experiencing increased incidences of depression, high blood pressure, anemia, and gestational diabetes.

The BREHA Lab is working with various organizations in the Massachusetts area to collect donations in the coming weeks. If you are able, please consider donating supplies via the following Amazon registry or at the Frost Library drop-off site on Monday-Friday at 8am-5pm with items in excellent condition from the approved list below:

  • Strollers (infants & toddlers)
  • Baby carriers
  • Convertible (unexpired) infant car seats
  • Bassinets/Playpens
  • Postpartum healing kits
  • Reusable nursing pads
  • Nursing bras and postpartum clothes (Small to Extra Large)
  • Infant formulas
  • Baby wipes/Toilettes
  • Diapers (Newborn to 7 months)

A group of people standing in front of a white background smiling and with arms outstretched.

The Collective

Meet the five members of the BREHA collective: Dr. Jallicia Jolly, Ash Smith, Fiona Yohannes, Isabella Ahmad, and Talia Bode Ward.

The BREHA Pillars

1. Advocacy: BREHA elevates the stories, voices, activism, and knowledge of Afro-diasporic people by foregrounding their everyday responses and movement-building against reproductive injustices. Grounded in a transnational approach, the collective is invested in engaging people and places across the diaspora to employ multiple innovative approaches to reduce health inequities, enhance health outcomes, and inspire structural change. We employ intersectional ethnography, public writing, storytelling, and workshops to drive sociopolitical action and to address the simultaneous elisions and pathologization of Black women, girls, and gender diverse people in global, mainstream discourse, and health action. Our initiatives and approaches grow up and out of the belief that community power emerges first from local voices. We listen, assist, and employ our resources in service of community goals, always through a lens of reproductive justice and equity.

five members of the BREHA collective at the launch event

The BREHA Collective launch event at the Center for Human Inquiry (CHI) in Frost Library, spring 2023.

A group of women standing in front of a window in the Sophia Smith Collection of Women’s History at Smith College.

Member of the BREHA Collective at the Sophia Smith Collection of Women’s History at Smith College.

2. Engaged Research: As we connect reproductive justice theory and practice, our collective supports the creation of knowledge production and research-informed political action that remains accessible to community members both inside and outside traditional research communities. Our work combats deficit ideologies in traditional research on Black communities that emphasize pathology, and instead, foregrounds asset-based perspectives that prioritize the cultural wealth, complex agency, and selfhood of Black people throughout the African diaspora. Our collective approach to interdisciplinary research is rooted in Black and Caribbean feminist methodological and epistemological frameworks as well as in transnational feminisms, African diaspora studies, reproductive justice theory, and Black queer studies. Dissemination will be expansive and take the form of public lectures, speakers, Brown Bag lunches, symposia, a community of practice, and research graphics.

3. Community Collaborations: BREHA is invested in building equity-based relationships with local and transnational RJ political actors and organizations. We aim to responsibly and responsively leverage the resources and capital that institutional backing engenders to support the practical needs and strategic interests of people engaged in on the ground movement work. Therefore, we commit to various modes of community-based learning : long-term partnerships, course projects, public scholarship, study trips, and guest speakers. We understand that community engagement grounds and makes material our inquiries on reproductive autonomy, bodily integrity, and community care. The tenets of active listening, cultural humility, equity, and coalition-building guide our entrance into and prolonged engagements with our collaborators.

4. Student Research: We invest in collaborative student-faculty relationships to encourage intergenerational knowledge and pedagogy, including developing student undergraduates research and community engagement experiences. Undergraduates can expect to develop their skills as writers, researchers, collaborators, and public speakers through engagement with scholars, activists, practitioners, organizers, and other actors who apply frontline scholarship to their work around movement-building, community interventions, and public policy. BREHA offers multiple options for engagement that create alignment between the vision of the research collective and students’ personal, political, and professional interests and investment.

Our Research

A Black woman holding up her hands, palms out

Reproductive Justice

A hand holding a vaccine bottle and needle

Medical Experimentation

A red AIDS ribbon

HIV/AIDS Pandemic

A black and white photo of Black women marching at a Civil Rights march

Black Feminist Archives

Expand the sections below to learn more about the work we’re doing in each of our research areas.

A pair of Black hands working on a laptop computer

The Reproductive Justice (RJ) Hub

Coming Soon

The Reproductive Justice (RJ) Hub of BREHA is a virtual space dedicated to sharing and engaging RJ opportunities, resources, and knowledge in Massachusetts and the African diaspora, particularly the Caribbean and Subsaharan-African region. This digital platform aims to amplify students' engagement with local and global Black RJ organizations, actors, and community leaders in ways that are ethical, intentional, and aligned with community needs and capacity.

The RJ Hub aims to elevate various avenues for meaningful involvement and community-building by sharing internships, training, workshops, classes/seminars, conferences, and relevant opportunities that advance the application of learning in the service of movement building and collective action.

Qualitative Research

An infographic showing a percentage of people with content explained in the accompanying text

Among all women, Black women account for the largest share of new HIV diagnoses (4,114, or 58% in 2018), and the rate of new diagnoses among Black women (23.1) is 14 times the rate among white women and almost 5 times the rate among Latinas.

HIV will not end until Black women end it... When Black women start to organize, we not only change things for ourselves but we actually change things for everybody else. And you can think of that across the spectrum.”   
—Dazon Diallo Dixon, founder and president of SisterLove, the first U.S.-based women’s HIV/AIDS and reproductive justice organization based in Atlanta, Georgia and Johannesburg, South Africa.

Two info graphics showing 40% and 55% with content explained in the accompanying text

In 2019, Black people accounted for 13% of the U.S. population but 40% (479,300) of people with HIV. In 2020, Black women represented 7% of the population but 10% of all new HIV diagnoses and 55% of all new HIV diagnoses among women.


In 2020, 20% of all new HIV diagnoses in the US were youth aged 13-24.

Source: CDC - HIV Information and Youth


African American youth aged 13-24 accounted for more than half of the new infections in their age group in 2010 (almost 60%), compared to Hispanic/Latinx and white youth, which each accounted for about 20%. 

Source: CDC Vital Signs, November 2012


In 2019-2020, Hispanic/Latina transgender women had double the rate of HIV (35%) and Black transgender women had over 3 times the rate of HIV (62%) than white transgender women (17%).

Source: CDC HIV Infection, Risk, Prevention, and Testing Behaviors Among Transgender Women

Let Us Hear From You

The BREHA lab is delighted to be in community with you!

We are working on programming for 2023-2024 and would love to hear about your investments in reproductive justice work, as well as your ideas for events, speakers, or workshops, via our Google form »

Other questions? Please email us at brehalab@gmail.com.