CLEVELAND — Two Northeast Ohio residents have created a project called Project Noir, a study with a series of questions that appraises the depths of struggles for Black women in Cleveland. More than 400 women have participated in the study.
Chi Chi Nkemere, and Bethany Studenic run Enlightened Solutions. The two create and publish research as they dig for solutions to diverse problems.
“Black women are not taken as full human beings. We are flattening their experiences,” said Nkemere.
“What really got us interested in the Black women in Cleveland is a piece of research that came out in late 2019, early 2020,” said Studenic.
An article in Bloomberg CityLab showed Cleveland to be among the worst metros for Black women. The metrics are work experiences, education and healthcare.
“Doctors often say ‘it’s in your head. they say that you’ve made it up,’” said Studenic.
The Bloomberg CityLab article inspired Project Noir.
“If Black women are doing better, I’m going to be doing better as a woman. Every woman is going to be doing better. Every Black person is going to be doing better if Black women are thriving in our community,” said Studenic. “Black women go through things that are unique to their experience and we don’t center them often enough, and we don’t talk about those experiences often enough.”
Aleesha Wilson participated in their study.
“This has been my story. This has been the story of people that came before me,” said Wilson.
Among the bad experiences, the attorney shared this:
“An experience with a medical provider, who basically assumed that I was a single woman that couldn’t afford to take care of my children because I was in her office” said Wilson.
Hundreds of stories, just like that, are written in the research.
“This is a white people created problem, white people need to start finding solutions,” said Studenic.
The ladies will compile stories and develop two sets of guidelines: one focused on Black women—how to protect themselves. The other, for organizations on how to be better.
“Imagine how brilliant this region would be if we were to fully integrate the wealth of knowledge of all people in this city, starting with Black women,” said Nkemere.
“If you roll your eyes at the idea that we are not doing right by Black women, you don’t want this city to succeed,” said Studenic.
For more information on the project or to take the survey, click here.
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