To read about the rest of the Culture Shifters, including TV writer Cord Jefferson and activist Mariah Moore, return to the complete list here. For Erica Chidi, knowledge is power. Or, to be more precise, understanding is power. In the course of a career devoted mainly to women’s sexual and reproductive health care, Chidi has been a health educator, a doula, an advocate for reproductive justice for Black and incarcerated women, and a startup founder.
One thing has been consistent, through a litany of roles: She wants women — especially Black women — to understand their bodies and to be understood. Sexual reproductive health is the great equalizer,” Chidi told HuffPost in a Zoom conversation. She recalled her time as a doula in San Francisco.
She worked with well-off women and couples in the tech field in private practice and provided those services to incarcerated women as a founding member of the Birth Justice Project. “Everyone, regardless of whether you are super wealthy, or you are not rich, and in a super challenging situation, everybody wants the same information. Everyone wants to know how to protect themselves and take care of their bodies.
In 2016, Chidi and co-founder Quinn Lundberg launched the wellness company Loom with a cozy, hip brick-and-mortar space in Los Angeles that offered sex and reproductive health workshops. For the past year, she has been working on a new digital expansion for Loom. The platform, which launches this spring, aims to make the same kind of classes and community found at the LA storefront accessible to a whole new swath of people.
“I knew firsthand through my one-on-one health coaching and doula work over the years that giving someone the education about what they’re going through and what they’re about to experience can change outcomes for sure,” Chidi said. “But even if the outcome remains exactly the same, their experience is better because they have this awareness.”
The child of a doctor and a nurse, both from Nigeria, Chidi was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and frequently moved as a child. When she was 10, after her parents divorced, she joined her father in South Africa, where she spent her adolescence.