Black Maternal Health Week: How You Can Support Equity In Healthcare

 

Credit: Black Mamas Matter Alliance

 

April 11-17th, 2021 is Black Maternal Health Week and we want to amplify the messaging developed and promoted by the incredible founders and members of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance.

The following information is shared directly from their website, which is an incredible resource to learn more about the crisis Black birth-givers face in seeking reproductive healthcare. We are proud to support the Black Mamas Matter Alliance and encourage you to see how you might be able to support their mission either financially or by sharing their resources and tagging them on social media.

 

 

 

 

The Black Mamas Matter Alliance is a Black women-led cross-sectoral alliance. [They] center Black mamas to advocate, drive research, build power, and shift culture for Black maternal health, rights, and justice.

BMMA uses the phrase “BLACK MAMAS” to represent the full diversity of our lived experiences that includes birthing persons (cis women, trans folks, and gender-nonconforming individuals) and all people of African descent across the diaspora (Afro-Latinx, African-American, Afro-Caribbean, Black, and African Immigrant). We recognize, celebrate, and support those who care for and mother our families and communities whether they have given birth or not. We stand in solidarity with all Black Mamas.

The Black Mamas Matter Alliance was sparked by a partnership project between the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective (SisterSong) that began in 2013. The two organizations collaborated on story collection on the obstacles that Southern Black women face in accessing maternal health care, leading to poor maternal health outcomes and persistent racial disparities. These findings were included in a joint report – “Reproductive Injustice: Gender and Racial Discrimination in U.S. Health Care” – submitted to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

Monica Simpson of SisterSong, Katrina Anderson of CRR, and Elizabeth Dawes Gay co-organized a convening in Atlanta in June 2015 that brought together experts, activists, and stakeholders from a variety of sectors who were concerned about Black maternal health. “Black Mamas Matter” was an outcome of this meeting, along with a call to action to produce toolkits for activists in the South working to improve maternal health. Over the course of the next year, CRR, in collaboration with members of BMM, created the Black Mamas Matter Toolkit.

The founding Black Mamas Matter Alliance Steering Committee members include Angela Doyinsola Aina, Elizabeth Dawes Gay, Joia Crear-Perry, Kwajelyn Jackson, and Monica Simpson.

In June 2018, Angela Doyinsola Aina and Elizabeth Dawes Gay became co-directors of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance; expanded the alliance to include over 18 Black women-led organizations; implemented the first-ever Black Maternal Health Week National Campaign; and the first Black Maternal Health Conference and Training Institute, all in 2018.

 

 

Credit: Valentina D’Efilippo via Scientific American. (click to enlarge)

 

 

The American Public Health Association reported on a session held in 2017 titled “Black Mamas Matter! Reclaiming Maternal Reproductive Health” which offers exceptional insights into the dangerous, life-threatening disparities Black women face when seeking reproductive healthcare. The following excerpts were written by Donya Currie:

“We envision a world where Black mamas have the rights, respect, and resources to thrive before, during, and after pregnancy,” said Elizabeth Dawes Gay, a steering committee member of the Atlanta-based Black Mamas Matter Alliance, at the session.

The all-volunteer group is doing amazing work to change policy, cultivate research and advance care for Black mothers. Perhaps most importantly, they’re working to shift our culture so Black mothers’ voices are actually heard.

Alliance members have put together a toolkit that includes talking points for advocates, multi-sector policy solutions, a research summary, and other resources

Alliance member Angela Doyinsola Aina gave a gut-wrenching look at the bleak and depressing history behind the disparities in Black maternal health in America. Black [enslaved people] were forced to breastfeed their white masters’ babies, for example, and if pregnant, were expected to work in the fields right up until their labor and then return immediately to work with their babies strapped to their backs. Physician J. Marion Sims is known as the “father of modern gynecology” for developing surgical techniques still in use today. But he honed his craft by experimenting on female [ensalved people].

Today, amid an overall disturbing upward trend in maternal deaths, more than three times as many Black women die from childbirth as their white counterparts. While the growing number of maternal deaths and pregnancy complications in the U.S. is “a human rights crisis,” Aina said, we all can play a role in making a difference.

 

 

 

 

Extreme racial inequities exist in our society within every established system, and it is our duty to dismantle the structures that do not serve our communities with equity. In honor of Black Maternal Health Week, we encourage you to research some of the data shared by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance and see what steps you can personally take to support members of the Black birth-giving community.

 

 

 

 

Learn more about the Black Mamas Matter Alliance:

Take a look at their website –> Black Mamas Matter Alliance

Make a donation –> Support Black Maternal Health Equity

Access their extraordinary toolkit –> Toolkit

Review their informative resources –> Resources

 

 

 

 


We’d love to hear about how you are observing Black Maternal Health Week – reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram, and check out the other posts on the blog!

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