The Rhetorical Life of Sickle Cell Anemia


ACLS Fellowship Program


Communication Studies


“The Rhetorical Life of Sickle Anemia” explores the rhetorical history and evolving discursive iterations of sickle cell anemia. It considers the intersection of agency and anti-Blackness, peeking into a life of peril and promise. As disease and discourse, Sickle Cell Anemia serves as a generative anthology of Black suffering under white gazes and Black resilience in spite of anti-Blackness treatment. Drawing from artifacts ranging from scientific publications and clinical reports to public-health campaigns, political addresses, and social movement initiatives, this study reveals this disease as a modality through which Blackness as a construct and ideal has circulated in US culture. It illuminates how a confluence of racialized assumptions and perceptions stick and adhere to specific bodies, altering their quality of care and sense of cultural value, and creating opportunities for community engagement, resistance, and change.