Black History Month with Lynette Medley, founder of No More Secrets

Black History Month with Lynette Medley, founder of No More Secrets

There is an immense need for education and accessibility around periods. Lynette Medley founded the nonprofit No More Secrets bringing not only resources but also access to education. Medley and her daughter Nya McGlone work on providing free period care & educating menstruators in need. This Black History Month, August sat down with founder Lynette Medley to discuss the powerful mission of the Menstrual Hub & effective ways we as a society can support the Black menstruators.

Introduction, who are you, what do you do? What is No More Secrets?

I’m Lynette Medley the Founder/CEO of No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit Inc. and the Co-Founder of The Spot Period.

Founded in 2012, No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit Inc. is a sexuality awareness and consultative organization. Our focus is to decrease risk in vulnerable populations through the development and implementation of sustainable programming and polices.​OUR MISSION at No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit Inc. is to decrease uterine care and menstrual health disparities in underserved communities through the eradication of societal stigmas and propagation of resources and scientifically based information. We are committed to providing a realistic and relational approach to comprehensive wellness of the mind, body and spirit. No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit Inc. intentionally dismantles the myths, stigmas and misconceptions ingrained in our communities. Our services are designed to elicit open communication, promote honest discussions, and provide real life solutions.

How did this begin, what was the inspiration behind this?

Through our own lived experiences and a shocking interaction with a teen client.

Hollie was just 13 when she first encountered period poverty. But the horror increased exorbitantly each year as she grew older living with just her mother and 4 little sisters. There was limited income for the very basics such as food and rent. So realistically there wasn’t any money left over for sanitary napkins or tampons. These poor little girls ended up resorting to using the most unhealthiest methods imaginable just to survive their monthly dilemma by utilizing socks, rags, stuffing from plushes, construction paper, scotch tape and any other make shift supplies.

During that time of month, it became apparently clear that school wouldn’t be an option for Hollie and her 4 little sisters because there was no way they could leave the house without bleeding all over themselves, causing them further humiliation. It all got to be too much for little Hollie and, like so many other desperate girls, dropped out of school, leaving home at 16.

You are the first menstrual hub in the country, what is this aimed to combat? Why did you think there was a necessity for this?

On February 20th, 2021, No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit Inc. opened the 1st Menstrual Hub and Uterine Wellness Center in the Nation, The Spot Period.

My daughter Nya McGlone and myself co-founded The Spot Period Hub and accomplished this iconic feat during a national pandemic, when the world had shut down, through a crowdfunding campaign to create a safe space for marginalized populations who were stranded without resources to assist with their menstrual and basic health needs. The SPOT Period provides access to computers/ Wi-Fi, proper waste management services, functional toilets, running water, menstrual health resources/ referrals, free period care products, wellness checks by nurses and other medical personnel and menstrual hygiene education and awareness.

What is Black history month?

We live in a world where policies are rooted and founded in discrimination, oppression, racial bias, and prejudice so a celebration of Black persons achievements are essential. I view Black History Month as dedicated time to pause and appreciate all of the achievements by Black people and to reflect on my own contributions as a Black woman living in America. Celebrating Black History Month helps Black Americans to continue to be seen and celebrated when so much of our history and contributions have been overlooked, diminished, stolen, erased, and hidden.

What are effective ways people can support during Black History Month?

Black History Month can be performative or impactful and sustainable.

Most privileged individuals, businesses and corporations will converge in droves to Black Communities and Black organizations for their performative Black History Month festivities: taking pictures to share on your newsletters, social media platforms, include in your reports highlighting how the implementation of actions included in statements and policies, then they leave and these marginalized communities and small Black businesses are left to their own devices. This is performative in nature and does not embody anything that Black History represents.

Ways to support No More Secrets MBS Inc. for Black History Month:

  1. Invest or becoming a corporate sponsor.
  2. Organized a pool of potential donors at your organization who can actively support our efforts on an ongoing basis.
  3. Chose No More Secrets MBS Inc. as your monthly donor recipient.
  4. Provide ongoing grants, funding and resources through your corporation or business.

What is No more Secrets doing to celebrate Black history month?

We are the epitome of Black History 365 days a year. No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit Inc. celebrates Black History all day and every day.

What is the Black girls bleed campaign? What inspired it?

Our #BlackGirlsBleed movement seeks to address systemic racism and oppression in the menstrual health space by amplifying authentic voices of Black menstruators and experiences of BIPOC-owned and lead organizations addressing menstrual equity, an area historically dominated by white perspectives, to ultimately decrease generational silence and stigma surrounding menstruation in Black communities. BIPOC individuals consistently have their voices muted and ignored, and their own menstrual experiences nullified and rejected, thus, it is dire to acknowledge menstrual equity as an intersectional issue. So follow, engage, read, and listen to BIPOC menstrual experiences, as true, equitable, menstrual justice cannot be achieved without racial justice. Menstrual equity is often highlighted as affordability, accessibility, and safety of menstrual products. Menstrual equity expands far beyond just products; it’s also imperative to provide our communities with education, resources, and multiple options to manage their menstrual hygiene and health.

Where do you see racial inequality in the period space?

We as Black Women in America are reminded every day that racial and sexist understandings are not treated with nuance but blatantly ignored. We are speaking from our genuine lived experiences and providing our authentic perspectives as Black women in America who are constantly and intentionally overlooked, ignored, and dismissed. We endure systemic racism, oppression, and discrimination everyday while operating in the very White and Privileged Menstrual space.

Peggy McIntosh, anti-racism activist and feminist, said: “Privilege exists when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to, rather than because of anything they’ve actually done.”

The stigma associated with being racist and privileged often fuels white denial and the refusal to accept that you are in fact racist or that your privilege exists. It has been summarized as a pathology of power marked by ignorance. Reality Check: If your Menstrual organization is creating policies, procedures and making decisions on behalf of marginalized BIPOC populations who are living in poverty and your entire Board is White, your leadership team is White or most of your employees are White and no one had ever experienced homeless, food insecurity or period poverty, you are deliberately acting out of White privilege for your personal gain and betterment at the same time being racist and causing more HARM to an already oppressed community.

Menstrual movements and Menstrual organizations intentionally obfuscate the authentic voices and lived experiences of black, broken, bleeding bodies in underserved communities by denying their very existence. They instead engage in performative acts and provide scripted narratives their truths which are sadly being deliberately and grossly misrepresented through these injustices.

Menstrual brands, menstrual organizations and other businesses refused to partner or uplift our historical efforts due to anti blackness, systemic racism, inherent biases, and discrimination. But we are still succeeding despite the lack of support from these discriminatory businesses and organizations because it’s our God Given Gift and assignment to end period poverty in our communities.

How can people support No More Secrets & the Menstrual Hub?

We are a BIPOC owned and led organization fighting to #endperiodpoverty in all vulnerable populations 365 days a year by delivering a 3-month supply of free feminine hygiene products to the doors of persons experiencing economic hardships locally and shipping nationally without any corporate sponsorships. We are the only organization in the nation operating at this level of commitment. Pandemics and racial tensions did not stop us from making deliveries as they actually doubled to approximately 180 deliveries a week by 2 Black women.

Part of the solution is a material response, one where money and attention once given to non-inclusive individuals and their discriminatory organizations and/or brands is diverted to harmed demographics doing real work. Let’s see deliberate actions by divesting from these predominantly white and other owned and run organizations and intentionally investing in Black menstrual organizations like The SPOT Period Hub as this is crucial in correcting the harm perpetrated by so many in this privileged menstrual space that continues to be Anti-Black and discriminatory.

How do you think society can work towards destigmatizing periods and shifting the negative culture around periods?

When addressing menstrual hygiene as a women’s issue and in a silo it insinuates that menstrual products themselves such as tampons, pads, liners menstrual cups etc. are the quintessential solution to the patriarchal and misogynistic ideologies of menstruation care and management.

This puts an unfair burden on women and girls, forcing our most vulnerable communities to actively engage in high-risk behaviors and use unsafe methodologies to cope with their menstrual hygiene rather than looking at the lack of menstrual health care as a broader oppressive social construct.

In reality, periods are not the issue, they are indeed a normal and natural part of life. Our women and girls shouldn’t be shamed for having a menstrual cycle and feeling like they are somehow dirty or unclean. The blame should be towards the systems of oppression who blatantly and intentionally hold menstrual products as hostage demanding the highest ransom from our communities.

True menstrual hygiene and health integrity can only be achieved when access, awareness and acceptance are provided in a socially supportive environment, with a comprehensive Menstrual/ Uterine care educational program, proper waste management resources and access to free and safe menstrual products.

What is your hope for young menstruators to feel when they experience their period? What advice would you give them?

It’s my hope that young menstruators will celebrate and acknowledge their menstrual cycles as a normal and natural part of life.

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