Structural violence, food insecurity, and chronic disease in the lives of Mattapan's black women
Farthing, Rachel Julienne
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This is a qualitative study that seeks to understand the intersections of food insecurity and chronic diseases in the lives of women living in Mattapan. This research takes place in Mattapan, a neighborhood in Boston. Mattapan is a very diverse and unique community which is home to a majority of people of color. Mattapan is often criticized and viewed as an undesirable place to live for those who live outside of its borders. These negative stereotypes and the presence of structural violence has generated a built site scarcity within the Mattapan community. This makes it incredibly difficult for Black women in Mattapan to be healthy because their environment actively prevents them from doing so. It is important to give women special consideration when looking at food insecurity because more increasingly they are becoming the sole and primary caregivers in their homes. They are responsible for the production and preparation of food within their families. Therefore, it is necessary and important to focus on this particular population and obstacles they endure navigating those obstacles. This research focuses on how past and present lived experiences of women of color in Mattapan inform how these women identify, understand, define, and interpret structural factors that contribute to food insecurity, and chronic diseases. Having access to fresh and affordable food is one of the most basic necessities of life. Yet, many communities of color across the country lack this basic access. Twenty percent of all African American household’s experience food insecurity compared 12.5 percent of the nation as a whole. In addition, African-American women are almost twice as likely to be overweight and obese compared to non-Hispanic White women. With such grave proportions of African-Americans suffering from chronic diseases, it is important to consider the ways in which obesity systematically occurs. Structural violence and the presence of structural barriers inhibit Black women from eating healthy. In predominately Black and immigrant communities like Mattapan, the environment is a major barrier that women must navigate every day in order to achieve healthiness.
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