Women of Color at the Center

Women of Color at the Center

Women of color provide important leadership in the city of Cincinnati, working in all sectors and volunteering their time for a better Cincinnati. At the same time, women of color face a multitude of challenges, including an alarmingly high poverty rate, high rates of health problems, and other inequities.

At The Cincinnati Project, we have begun a new initiative in 2018, funded by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, to raise up the stories from women of color as well as to reduce poverty and other disadvantages face by women of color. Working with community partners, we have launched a set of projects designed to benefit women of color either directly or by supporting the work of other groups with this goal.

Some of the projects will lift up the voices of women of color to tell success stories and describe obstacles to equality. Business owners and activists and women isolated by poverty will be featured in these projects. Other projects will help ongoing efforts to improve women of color’s lives. For example, an urban societies class will collect information that will help Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) reduce evictions in Cincinnati, a problem that greatly affects women of color. Another class will work to promote a business owned by a black woman, improve communication among neighborhood community councils, and help the Child Poverty Collaborative achieve their goals. Finally, our initiative will benefit from the research for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). In this project, a group of professors is evaluating data on city employees for a study of gender, race, and other potential forms of inequality as a first step in the CEDAW process.

Because we do not want this research to sit on the shelf, we are making plans to bring it to the public. We have a design team who will synthesize this work and match it practical information. For example, women’s stories of activism and starting businesses will be shared in public spaces—we are still working on where and how—along with information about how to organize in your community or start a business. Look for more about this phase of the project during the summer.

All of this work will be completed and shared in 2018. We won’t stop doing other projects, but the projects partnered with women of color will allow us to focus efforts to demonstrate the power of coordinated efforts. We hope that our projects will support the efforts of All-In Cincinnati, the Child Poverty Collaborative, HOME, and other groups working on policy change and providing services that disproportionately support women of color.

jmalatWomen of Color at the Center
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Students in Public Relations Campaigns Class Assist TCP Partners

Students in Public Relations Campaigns Class Assist TCP Partners

“It’s important/beneficial for UC students to collaborate with [community] organizations because both parties can benefit. With my experience and tenure at Total Quality Logistics (TQL), I could provide the Civic Garden Center (CGC) with our marketing team so they can set up these volunteer opportunities. TQL is a company that I know firsthand loves to give back. My hopes for the CGC are that they do grow their volunteer and donations base with young professionals and I hope TQL can be a part of that community.” Samantha Clark, student

Every semester, UC’s Department of Communication offers multiple sections of a class entitled “Public Relations Campaigns.” This class is a final requirement for graduating public relations certificate undergraduates. Each class invites up to five community organizations to be semester-long clients. After meeting with clients the first week of the semester, students form groups to serve the clients for the duration of the semester. Each client has a dedicated group of five or six students, and those students spend their semester researching their client and its market. Then, each student group crafts a strategic communication plan for their client. At the end of the term, groups make formal presentations to their clients. In the process, the students learn about applied research, strategic planning, collateral creation, and persuasive pitching to clients.

PR Campaign Students work with the Support Network

In the years I have taught this course, my students have served dozens of local non-profits, start-ups, and small businesses. Over the course of the past year, The Cincinnati Project has connected me with several clients. Those clients include Churches Active in Northside’s Rainbow Choice Food Pantry, the Civic Garden Center, the Community Police Partnering Center, Holly Hill Children’s Services, New Life Furniture Bank, the YWCA LGBTQ Task Force, and the YWCA Anti-Violence Program.

With each project, my students and I have the privilege and challenge of learning all about the community partner’s organization, situation, marketplace, and communication challenges. This is an eye-opening experience for students, since it requires them to understand unfamiliar organizations and marketplaces. After doing original research for their client, students have to generate a comprehensive, integrated communication plan for their client. This plan may center on rebranding, building stronger organization-stakeholder relations, updating the organization’s social media presence, distinguishing the organization from its competition, raising community awareness of the organization, and more.

“It’s important for UC students to collaborate with community organizations because it makes the students well versed in the types of organizations that are affecting the community and it also gives them an idea of where they might want to work after graduation. My hopes for the Civic Garden Center are that they take some of our ideas, like the content calendar, and implement them into their company. I also hope that through all of these new implementations they in turn get more volunteers and more donations coming into the organization.” Abby Fordham, student

Although this is a challenging project for students, it leaves them proud of how relevant their skills are. It is also something the Department of Communication is proud of, since experiential learning and community engagement are central to our mission and identity. We are committed to equipping our students to serve the local community upon graduation. Working with The Cincinnati Project has been, and continues to be, a great way for us to stay connected to our community!

“This class was the most informative class for my future career. I’m currently working for an internship and I used what I learned in this class, towards my internship and talked about this class also for a job interview. This class helped me to truly understand what goes into a PR campaign and the steps you need to take in order to reach your end goal.” Ryan Ritze, student

cinciprojectStudents in Public Relations Campaigns Class Assist TCP Partners
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Building Connections on Campus

Building Connections on Campus

A couple weeks ago, we co-hosted an energizing workshop on community-partnered research for faculty across the university. The event grew out of a chat with the co-directors of the Center for Race, Gender and Social Justice at the College of Law.

Janet Moore, Farrah Jacquez, and Edie Morris take questions from the audience.

We noticed that faculty who partner with communities are passionate about their work, but the size of campus and time spent in the field make it difficult for them to meet each other. Faculty who know each other can share opportunities, support each other, and produce more research with a stronger impact.

We decided to organize an event that would help people get to know each other. We structured the day so that there would be many opportunities for sharing successes and strategies for confronting challenges. We also hoped students would attend the event in order to learn more about community-partnered research.

Discussion with all attendees at the end of the day.

Our efforts were successful! Approximately 45 faculty, staff, undergraduate, and graduate/professional students gathered throughout the day at the African American Cultural and Resource Center. We listened to experienced researchers talk about their work, shared lunch, and exchanged ideas in a large group. We left having met new people, with plans to stay in touch, and agreeing that we need to meet again!

jmalatBuilding Connections on Campus
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Reproductive Justice: A positive approach to Sexuality, Health and Human Rights

Reproductive Justice: A positive approach to Sexuality, Health and Human Rights

By Emma Fox and Juliana Madzia

Reproductive Justice is not a term that many people are familiar with. At least, this is how we felt when we enrolled in this Sociology 2099 class. We had some vague idea of what it might mean; we both had interests and experience in feminism and health, and thought maybe it would be a good combination of the two.  Upon first hearing the term, many may assume Reproductive Justice has something to do with abortion or birth control, but not much else. In actuality, abortion rights and access to birth control really just scratch the surface of the purview of Reproductive Justice. As this class set out to do, our definitions of Reproductive Justice have broadened to ones that are more inclusive, more intersectional, and more informed.

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2016 NAACP National Conference Data Collection

2016 NAACP National Conference Data Collection

Brian Eiler, PhD Psychology student

As part of the Cincinnati Project, I was invited to participate in discussions at the 2016 NAACP National Conference surrounding police-community interactions. While my primary role was as a scientist, to help collect data to understand how police officers and members of local communities, my experience left me struck by the stories I heard and the emotions they elicited from me. By the time I left, I realized that although I can have empathy, understanding, and can fight to eliminate social injustices, I will not ever understand what it is like to be Black in this country.

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Reflections on my time as TCP Program Coordinator

Reflections on my time as TCP Program Coordinator

By Elaina Johns-Wolfe

About two years ago, I began my assignment as graduate assistant for the Kunz Center for Social Research, of which Dr. Jennifer Malat was director. The Cincinnati Project was only in its infancy at the time — more of an idea than a cohesive research center. Over the course of the next year and a half, it was my privilege to serve as its first project coordinator and to help it grow into a stand-alone research endeavor. As a sociologist-in-training, involvement with The Cincinnati Project enriched my education in the following ways:

cinciprojectReflections on my time as TCP Program Coordinator
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Reproductive Justice is more than just Birth Control and Abortion

Reproductive Justice is more than just Birth Control and Abortion

By Mary Siskaninetz ’19

Sociology 2099, a course on Reproductive Justice, has been the most life changing class in my college career so far. It made me realize that I do not just have to sit by the sidelines on issues about women’s rights and reproductive justice. This class was specifically important to me because it made me rethink my whole career. I never thought of pursuing or looking up a job in reproductive health. Now, I am considering changing majors in order to be qualified to do reproductive justice work.

I think everyone should take this class. Not only to educate people on reproductive justice issues, but to eliminate wrong and shameful misinformation that circulates American media and culture. Environmental, racial, socio-economic issues can all play into how you receive healthcare.

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Voices of Cincinnati

Voices of Cincinnati

By Steve Carlton-Ford

This past summer, I started to get involved with the AMOS supported project “Voices of Cincinnati.” That project is focused on identifying people whose voices are rarely heard and helping them identify their strengths and capabilities. Many of these folks simply don’t have steady jobs and steady incomes and need help getting into the job market. For others, English is a second language, a fact that makes adjusting to life in Cincinnati difficult.

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Jim Crow Geography and HIV Disparities

Jim Crow Geography and HIV Disparities

By Carolette Norwood

Jim Crow Cincinnati Neighborhood

I’m super excited to be apart of the first Cincinnati Project cohort of scholars. My scholarship has always focused on the health and wellbeing of African American women. Currently I’m partnering up with Caracole House to extend on my existing research that takes into account how gender, race, sexuality and space intersects and the impact of these on health outcomes for Black women.

Community vs Individual Behavioral Factors when Studying HIV
In the past, researchers studying HIV have mostly focused on individual behavioral factors to assess risk. The problem with this approach is that it tends to overemphasize individuals’ sexual proclivities as a predictor of HIV disparities and personal risk. One of the most exciting implications of my current work is the elucidation of how macro processes (including structural policies like Jim Crow) create spaces (communities and neighborhood environments) that are more vulnerable for risk of illnesses (from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to everyday chronic illness).

STIs then become more pervasive and more prevalent within confined spaces and among populations that are already heavily compromised.

And ain’t this the legacy of Jim Crow?

1904 caricature of "White" and "Jim Crow" rail cars by John T. McCutcheon.

1904 caricature of “White” and “Jim Crow” rail cars by John T. McCutcheon.

The spatial confinement of Blacks within Jim Crow geographies often meant living under extremely poor conditions, which not only worsened, but accelerated infectious diseases and diminished prenatal care, which resulted in much higher infant mortality rates and much shorter life expectancies. These antagonistic circumstances, alongside limited access to medical services, still largely reflect the continuity of racial health disparities between African Americans and whites. My current research traces back the Cincinnati Jim Crow history with regards to spatial reserves for African American residents. I’m interested in exploring the particularities of how spatial confinement impacts Black women’s health and wellbeing.

I see this project as being in conversation with a sparse body of work on Blacks in Cincinnati. Specifically, Dr. Nikki Taylor, author of Frontiers of Freedom: Cincinnati Black Community 1802-1868, Dr. Henry Louis Taylor, author of Race and the City: Work Community and Protest, Dr. Zane Miller’s Changing Plans for America’s Inner Cities: Cincinnati’s Over-The-Rhine and Twentieth-Century Urbanism and several journal articles, book chapters and reports authored by Dr. Charles F. Casey-Leininger. All are key texts that inform this project, specifically by addressing how Jim Crow borders came to be drawn, and the emergence of the Cincinnati urban reservation.

 

 

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Reproductive Justice: Creating Change in the greater Cincinnati area

Reproductive Justice: Creating Change in the greater Cincinnati area

By Danielle Bessett

Picture of women of different races

Photo courtesy of www.forharriet.com

What is “reproductive justice”?

The word “reproduction” might conjure ideas about medicine and health care services, especially the ways we care for pregnancy and birth in the U.S. “Justice,” on the other hand, often evokes legality and smacks of legal battles, especially the contentious struggles over abortion nationally and right here in Ohio. These two frameworks – commonly referred to as “reproductive health” and “reproductive rights,” respectively – are critically important to insuring the autonomy, equality, health, and well-being of women and their families, but we can’t achieve reproductive justice by focusing just on medicine or the law or adding the two together. Reproductive justice is both complementary to these two frameworks and broader than them.

Women dancing artwork

Photo courtesy of africanakaleidoscopes.com

Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice (now Forward Together) defines reproductive justice as “the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, social, and economic well-being of women and girls, based on the full achievement and protection of women’s human rights.” Perhaps it is no surprise that Black women (through the organization SisterSong) originated this term, since they and other women of color have long been devalued as mothers and disproportionately subjected to involuntary sterilization, interference with their parenting, and other challenges that have led them to prioritize not only the right to abortion, but also the rights to have children and to parent them.

UC Honors Class Researches Inclusive Social Movement Practices

Drawing from their experiences, Loretta Ross insists that a truly inclusive movement must reflect the fundamental tenet that “a woman’s societal institutions, environment, economics and culture affect her reproductive life.” Legal rights and appropriate, respectful health care are necessary, but so too are efforts to address poverty, racism, environmental degradation, militarism, and other oppressions.

Our class (Sociology 2099) is taking this mandate seriously this fall. We are:

  • learning about infant and maternal mortality, both nationally and here in Cincinnati.
  • discussing the public debates about birth, abortion, and surrogacy, as well as the facts and perspectives that are sometimes occluded in those debates.
  • studying both past reproductive injustices and recent social movements’ successes in our efforts to identify lessons for the future.

Service Learning with Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission

Across all of these topics, we will pay particular attention to issues of inequality: Whose parenting is valued and whose is not? Whose mothering is encouraged and supported and whose is not? Whose children flourish and whose cannot? And we won’t do it alone. We will be joined by expert guest speakers, many of whom are working to improve reproductive conditions in the greater Cincinnati area.

We are also delighted to partner with Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission (NKCAC) for service learning this fall. Service learning helps us to understand these issues from a slightly different perspective, and it also allows us to be part of the solution. It also helps us engage holistically, as the reproductive justice framework requires: NKCAC fights poverty by providing a range of services that support individuals and families and helping them gain skills and independence.

I can’t wait to see what this fall holds for us, not least because this course is for the first time part of the UC Honors program. From time to time, students will post blogs from our class, reporting on the work we are doing. I hope you will follow our journey!

cinciprojectReproductive Justice: Creating Change in the greater Cincinnati area
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