Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Jessica Allen L&S Social Sciences

The Hidden Inheritance of Black Genealogies

The constellation of the black genealogies begins and starts from black wombs. In essence, the womb provides safe incubation for a developing fetus and is, in essence, the location where you’re most connected from your source of life on a physical, emotional, and quantum spiritual level. The inhumane conditions of chattel slavery were rooted in control, regulation, and constant demand.This constant supply and demand to restock plantation communities made Black womb’s an inexhaustible commodity and money-making device. According to the statistics from the National Partnership of Women and their Families website, “Black women are three to four times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women in 2019 and Black women are three times more likely to have fibroids (benign tumors that grow in the uterus and can cause postpartum hemorrhaging) than white women” (NPWF, 2019). The transmission of trauma impacts generations of Black genealogies, as it dictates the physical health, mental health, and birth outcomes for offspring, far beyond the origin of trauma. The reality of trauma is that it threatens the physical, emotional, psychological, and/or spiritual integrity of a person and thereby harmfully impacts people long after the experience is over. The impact of those acute or chronic traumas can live on in the individual, family, and culture for years and even generations, and untended trauma can take a life of its own and impact one’s reality and relationships to self and others. These health effects are terrifying along with the realities of epigenetics and trauma transmission, Black families have interconnected oppressions that systemic racism over the generations creates overlapping issues for birth, socioeconomic access, and adequate healthcare.
The current statistics inform us that Black pregnancy and birth outcomes have the highest risk for adverse birth outcomes or death than any other race. I intend to explain how the myriad of systemic and institutional disparities within the field of infant and pregnancy health may be caused by the deep invisible wounds from slavery. The Atlantic article, Epigenetics: The Controversial Science Behind Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities defines epigenetics: “a fast-growing field of science, which strongly suggests that what we experience, consume, and encounter from the moment we are conceived matters” (Ross, 2020). The science of epigenetics can support my claim to inform our contemporary public health and policy initiatives that aim to combat patterns of trauma transmission upon Black genealogies. I plan to utilize intersectional theoretical frameworks centered in Black queer feminism to interrogate these disparities.

Message To Sponsor

Dear Donor's, I want to extend immense gratitude to the most generous offering for funding undergraduate research for the summer. I am so thankful to get this opportunity and that I am getting so much support from SURF. I will always remember that my UC Berkeley undergraduate career was enriching because of these funding strategies to create new pathways in research that matter.
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Major: African American Studies and Geography
Mentor: Travis Bristol
Sponsor: CACSSF
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