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SoCal nurse practitioner makes it her mission to advocate for Black women’s health

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (KABC) — Kara James is a Planned Parenthood nurse practitioner on a mission to save Black women’s lives.

Her fight for Black women started as a young Black girl, fighting for herself.

She grew up in Carson and in high school her mother saw Kara’s path, refused to accept it and told her she needed to start over– move in with family, out of state.

She moved to New Orleans and began to succeed — a victory that tangible proved what she could do.

RELATED: Planned Parenthood health center opens in Inglewood amid court battle over abortion rights

“I know what it’s like being from the hood, I know what it’s like living in a motel. I know what it’s like when someone tells you can’t do something,” James said. “So all those experiences is what creates my passion, my perseverance.”

James started a family, graduated from college and created opportunities that eventually led her to Inglewood’s Planned Parenthood as a nurse practitioner.

In 2020, as systemic racism became a call to action, Planned Parenthood sent a company-wide email sharing words of solidarity.

James wanted more than words.

“I responded to the email. I had only been at Planned Parenthood for six months,” she said. “Most folks would’ve thought ‘Oh, I’m gonna get fired, I wouldn’t send that email out.’ But I sent that email.”

The motivation her mother had to save her daughter’s life years ago became James’ motivation to save others.

“It’s on us to speak up, it’s on us to empower others. It’s on us to make a difference,” she said.

In the U.S., Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than white women. Black children are more than twice as likely to die before their first birthday.

With a wide range of medical resources already in place, Planned Parenthood just needed a plan.

“They wanted to meet with me. And so when it was time to meet, I had a whole PowerPoint presentation and a plan, delineating what I thought the Black Health Initiative needed to be.

Last spring, James’ vision came to life at the Black Health Initiative’s grand opening. It’s education, preventative care and community, all in one place.

“We offer behavioral services, so to have a behavioral health therapist in the clinic, that’s groundbreaking,” James said. “We offer prenatal services. We’ll soon have doula care.”

That all means Kara James is not done making history and changing the future.


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