Lilly Marcelin ’12 applied for the Davis Projects for Peace last year – and won. Projects for Peace is an initiative, funded by Kathryn Wasserman Davis ’28, for a student (or group of students) to design grassroots projects over the summer. These projects work to promote peace and address the root causes of conflict. Read on as Lilly shares more about her project, “Empowering Black Female Adolescents with Reproductive Health Knowledge for Social Change through the Art of ‘Zine’ & Blog Making,” and why she encourages you to apply:
I applied for the Davis Projects for Peace with the hope of bringing together black teens across various socioeconomic backgrounds from the Greater Boston area. Regardless of ethnicity or socioeconomic status, women of African descent (including adolescent black girls) are disproportionately affected by common, but rarely discussed, diseases of the reproductive system. These diseases include uterine fibroids, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome as well as cervical and uterine cancers. Discussions concerning women’s reproductive health in the black community tend to center on reproductive rights, abortions, teenage pregnancies, and STDs.
These discourses, while very important and necessary, can unfortunately contribute to silence, secrecy, and stigmatization of many women. For instance, with African American women, the tendency to lump such discussions together with these issues may remind them of societal stereotypes (e.g., hyper- sexualized African American women). Many of these discussions failed to equally address reproductive diseases that are salient in the lives of black women.
All of these realizations prompted by application for the Davis Projects for Peace. I wanted to expand current discourses to include the aforementioned diseases while incorporating the voices and ideas of young black adolescent girls. I envisioned winning the Davis Project as an opportunity to work with black teens on these issues – we would explore the intersections of reproductive health/diseases and social justice in terms of our society’s lack of objectivity and sensitivity surrounding these diseases.
Indeed, I was thrilled to win this award as it facilitated my project to come to fruition. It was extremely fulfilling to work with an amazing group of girls during the summer, helping them learn leadership skills and become producers of knowledge regarding reproductive health/diseases in their communities (the end result being transformative social change). I highly encourage any students with a vision for a project to apply for this award.
The Davis Projects for Peace application is due January 10, 2013. Learn more here.