Body and Soul by Alondra Nelson
The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination

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Synopsis

2013 MIRRA KOMAROVSKY BOOK AWARD
2012 LETITIA WOODS BROWN MEMORIAL BOOK AWARD
2012 DISTINGUISHED CONTRIBUTION TO SCHOLARSHIP BOOK AWARD
(AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL ASSOC: RACE, GENDER, AND CLASS SECTION)
2012 ASSOCIATION FOR HUMANIST SOCIOLOGY BOOK AWARD
2012 C. WRIGHT MILLS AWARD (FINALIST)

Between its founding in 1966 and its formal end in 1980, the Black Panther Party blazed a distinctive trail in American political culture. The Black Panthers are most often remembered for their revolutionary rhetoric and militant action. Here Alondra Nelson deftly recovers an indispensable but lesser-known aspect of the organization's broader struggle for social justice: health care. The Black Panther Party's health activism--its network of free health clinics, its campaign to raise awareness about genetic disease, and its challenges to medical discrimination--was an expression of its founding political philosophy and also a recognition that poor blacks were both underserved by mainstream medicine and overexposed to its harms.
Drawing on extensive historical research as well as interviews with former members of the Black Panther Party, Nelson argues that the Party's focus on health care was both practical and ideological. Building on a long tradition of medical self-sufficiency among African Americans, the Panthers' People's Free Medical Clinics administered basic preventive care, tested for lead poisoning and hypertension, and helped with housing, employment, and social services. In 1971, the party launched a campaign to address sickle-cell anemia. In addition to establishing screening programs and educational outreach efforts, it exposed the racial biases of the medical system that had largely ignored sickle-cell anemia, a disease that predominantly affected people of African descent.
The Black Panther Party's understanding of health as a basic human right and its engagement with the social implications of genetics anticipated current debates about the politics of health and race. That legacy--and that struggle--continues today in the commitment of health activists and the fight for universal health care.
 

About Alondra Nelson

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Alondra Nelson is associate professor of sociology at Columbia University, where she also holds an appointment in the Institute for Research on Women and Gender. She is coeditor of Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life and Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision between DNA, Race, and History.
 
Published October 20, 2011 by Univ Of Minnesota Press. 288 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Professional & Technical, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Body and Soul

Publishers Weekly

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Nelson, a professor of sociology at Columbia University, reports exhaustively on the Black Panther Party's role in the radical health movement of the 1970s, positioning the BPP as important players in

Jul 18 2011 | Read Full Review of Body and Soul: The Black Pant...

New York Journal of Books

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“. . . stiff, awkward, and confusing with all of its redundant information. . . . Not in any way to diminish the issue of sickle cell anemia and its medical history in the African American community, Body and Soul should be approached solely as a research text: a published thesis paper for those ...

Nov 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Body and Soul: The Black Pant...

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