A Womanist Ethic of Care and Women of Color Health Narratives
Womanist ethic of care is a term coined by Annette Madlock Gatison (2020) to refer to a narrative construction of Black Women’s health. A womanist ethic of care is a perspective that employs an ethos of care and concern for Black women and their lived experience as credible knowledge in the context of their physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. Madlock Gatison also contends that a womanist ethic of care is committed to the universal survival and wholeness of all people from all gender identities, racial and ethnic groups. A womanist ethic of care understands that the health concerns and related experiences of Black women should be central to their care and that they will differ from other women for various socio-cultural reasons.
Madlock Gatison believes that a womanist ethic of care compliments patient-centered care, as it values patient narrative of symptoms while working to remediate issues of invisible illness [empirically unverifiable symptoms].
Health professionals “womanism is for everybody.” To incorporate a womanist ethic of care requires action in the form of a self-check when in the process of decision-making and reflection. Ask yourself, “is this the diagnosis or treatment plan that I would come to if this were a white middle-class patient, myself, or a family member [someone that matters to me]?” Is this the best course of treatment for this Black woman? Did I hear her? Did I listen to her?
Madlock Gatison states, “A womanist ethic of care requires you to center my experience as a Black woman. Listen to me when I talk. My symptoms might be empirically unverifiable, but I still hurt, my body is out of order, my thoughts are spinning. Believe me, something is wrong.”
She goes on to state that when Black women are healthy [mentally, physically, spiritually] universally, everyone will be healthy [mentally, physically, and spiritually], universally.”
Madlock Gatison, A., (2020, November 19-22). Womanist Ethic of Care, Women of Color Health Narratives [Conference session]. National Communication Association 106th Annual Conference, Virtual/Indianapolis, IN, United States.