Breathing Life into Black Wombs: Ableism, Misogynoir, and the Reproductive Injustice within the Medical Industrial Complex

February 8, 2024

Anna LaQawn Hinton
Anna LaQuawn Hinton

Health Humanities Speaker Series

Start time: 4:00 p.m.

End time: 6:00 p.m

Location: STEM Building, Room 110 (817 W Franklin St, Richmond, VA 23220)

View event recording

We are currently in a moment where society is attentive to the deathly dangers of giving birth while Black, as we reckon with how modern gynecology only developed due to the supply of Black wombs and womb-systems to which questions of morals and ethics around sentience and pain were irrelevant. While institutionalized Black death absolutely deserves our attention, I am interested in how conversations about medical treatments, sentience, and pain directs our attention to practices, problems, and experiences shaped by ableism that get minimized, invisibilized, or ignored. For instance, Serena Williams underscored the issue of Black maternal mortality across economic lines when she shared how she nearly died giving birth. What went largely uncommented on was her ongoing encounters with ableism. Williams has a condition that makes her more susceptible to blood clots, a condition she navigated pre-pregnancy and faced many public instances of accessibility barriers.

Without equating or collapsing disability with pain and death but attuning to how pain and death can direct our awareness to disability, I will draw on theoretical interventions and methods from Black Feminist Disability Studies and Reproductive Justice to examine how dis/ability and ableism impacts issues key to reproductive justice, such as the right to birth, the right not to birth, and the right to raise one’s children for Black people. Through the growing archive of blogs, magazine articles, social media posts, and even medical and social science journals, I hope to expand our conversations about reproductive injustice and justice for Black birthing folkx within the medical industrial complex.


About the Speaker

Dr. Anna LaQuawn Hinton is an Assistant Professor of Disability Studies and Black Literature & Culture in the English Department at the University of North Texas. She has published on disability regarding constructions of Black motherhood, masculinity in hip-hop, spaces of incarceration, reproductive justice in literature, and African and Afro-Diasporic spiritual practice as technology in outlets such as the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies (JLCDS) and CLA Journal, as well as The Cambridge Companion to American Literature and the Body and The Palgrave Handbook on Reproductive Justice and Literature. She is currently writing her monograph, Refusing to Be Made Whole: Disability in Contemporary Black Women's Writing, which approaches conversations about aesthetics, spirituality, representation, community, sexuality, motherhood, and futurity. Dr. Hinton is also Public Relations Director for the College Language Association (CLA), Forum Executive Committee, TC Disability Studies, and a member of the Committee for Persons with Disabilities for the City of Denton (Texas).

She is a disabled-queer-momma Black feminist, who “Loves music. Loves dance. Loves the moon. Loves the Spirit. Loves love and food and roundness. Loves struggle. Loves the Folk.(and striving to) Loves herself. Regardless.”*

*Alice Walker