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Black Women’s Health Imperative and Zsanai Epps uplift next leaders in health

Zsanai Epps of the Black Women’s Health Imperative (Photo provided)

Since 1983, The Black Women’s Health Imperative has been dedicated to uplifting and educating Black women about health and overall wellbeing.

This week they are celebrating 38 years of existence with a collection of virtual panels aimed at providing an open platform to discuss an array of issues that impact Black women.

We spoke with Zsanai Epps, the organization’s special projects manager and program manager for My Sister’s Keeper.

Tell us a little bit about My Sister’s Keeper Foundation.

My Sister’s Keeper is a leadership and advocacy program for collegiate women with special emphasis on HBCU campuses. We focus on reproductive justice and sexual health and just making sure that these young women are their best selves, and that they show up healthy in the world. We provide young women with some skills training. We do digital advocacy, legislative advocacy as well as self-advocacy training. We want them to be able to show up for themselves and say what they need and making sure that the policies in place actually reflect us and benefit us. We have national policy summits in which we bring the MSK students to Washington, D.C. and we train them and meet with some of those in a congressional office. We have 10 chapters across college campuses, one of which includes Spelman. Most recently, at Spelman, we hosted a positive period conversation. Our positive period campaign focuses on menstrual insecurity.

Tell us about your upcoming panel discussion. 

Our panel is called “Empowering the Next Generation of Women’s Health Advocates.” If you guys have been following along with the anniversary, we started out with Byllye Avery and Angela Davis. Byllye Avery started this organization back in 1983 during a time when it was needed for us to really focus on reproductive health justice and rights. This panel is dynamic, we have some amazing women.

We have Jurnee Smollett and she’ll be able to give us that perspective of showing up and representing for Black women on-screen. We have an amazing person who has developed a digital program that increases access for Black women to be connected with Black physicians, no matter what the specialty. We have someone who is a biomedical researcher who is intersecting social justice and STEM. We have someone who is a community activist, who’s been organizing since she was 12 years old at the University of Virginia. Then, we also have an amazing woman who’s been capturing what’s been happening in Texas for the New York Post, to really reflect what the protest looks like and how Black women and men are showing up in that space. … We’re also going to focus on what we do to practice self-care so that we can continue to show up and do this work.

For more information on My Sister’s Keeper, visit //bwhi.org/mysisterskeeper.

Black Women’s Health Imperative (Photo provided)