African American and Africana Studies
Second Faculty Mentor
My central research question is: how has white supremacy impacted African Diaspora women’s mental health, access to mental healthcare, and identities as mental health patients in the United States as discernible in advertisements and state policies for psychological wellness? More specifically, I will investigate whether and/or how white supremacy shapes the ways in which advertising and state policies for mental healthcare address the particular needs of black women who immigrate to Houston, Texas from Lagos, Nigeria and Coahuila, Mexico. I choose those geographies because Houston is a U.S. city with one of the highest populations of black immigrants from Nigeria and Mexico. I will consult various sources dated from the late-twentieth century up to the present, including published mental healthcare policies, print and commercial advertisements to the public, and other related primary and secondary documents. I will do so to ascertain whether and/or how their language, images, and official guidelines have aided in constructing narratives and representations of black immigrant women that maintain white supremacist ideologies, promote imperialism, and block access to care. For example, I will ask if available sources frame black women immigrants as potential patients in need of care, or if racist, sexist, and/or xenophobic assumptions exclude them from existing avenues of mental health treatment. I will analyze those sources using the black feminist methodological lens of intersectionality. Critical legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw initially formulated intersectionality to highlight how policies and politics related to racial and/or gendered disparities, including services for victims of domestic violence, often erase the particular experiences of women of color, especially black women. My rationale for carrying out this project is that I seek to discover the kinds of advertisements, policy changes, and approaches to care that can be implemented to improve black immigrant women’s wellness.
Vesslee, Sianneh, "Black Women’s Wellbeing: The Intersections of Race, Immigrant Status, and Mental Health Among African Diasporan Women in Houston, Texas" (2019). African American and Africana Studies Summer Fellows. 3.
Available to all.