Black Mamas Matter Alliance launches first national Black maternal health week
Editor’s Note: April is Black Women’s History Month. Throughout this month, Black Youth Project is celebrating Black women. This month is also National Minority Health Month, Autism Awareness Month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Child Abuse Prevention Month. We are interested in publishing works that address these topics and the things surrounding them.
The Black Mamas Matter Alliance has launched the first ever Black maternal health week in America which runs from April 11-April 17th. According to the steering committee chair, Elizabeth Dawes Gay: “The goal of the week is to deepen the conversation around black maternal health and amplify black women leaders who are working on the issue.”
Community events will be held in California, Georgia, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas to discuss potential solutions to maternal health disparities. Events include a screening of Nelufar Hedayat’s documentary Death By Delivery, which features the founders of Black Mamas Matter and focuses on Black maternal health issues; panels with Black women experts, and educational workshops about yoga for the birth and postpartum stages.
Organizers are currently using the hashtag #BMHW18 to drive awareness on social media, and also held a prelaunch chat on Twitter this past Tuesday and a pre-launch webinar regarding Black Maternal Health Week on Wednesday.
Statistics show that Black women are disproportionately high-risk for obesity and high blood pressure, among other health issues, but Gay does not want the conversation to stop at the statistics. “[The] narrative falls short of explaining the systemic levels of oppression that prevents people from having the [good] health in the first place,” Gay says, “and a lot of that is race-based exclusion or barriers to economic success, to health care, education, to good neighborhoods and good housing.”
We have recently reported on the medical care crisis that surrounded the birth of Serena Williams’ daughter Alexis Olympia, and the blood clots that formed in the tennis superstar’s lungs. Williams requested that doctors perform a CT scan and give her blood thinner medication, but her doctors did not initially listen to her about her own body. This highlighted and kicked off a national conversation on Black maternal health and healthcare, which Black Mamas Matter is continuing.
According to Lynn Roberts, the co-editor of Radical Reproductive Justice and a professor at CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, “There is a different level of care afforded to people of color, indigenous people, poor people and trans people… I think that is systemic. And that devaluing and that stigmatizing gets in the way of quality care.”
According to their website, that is one thing that The Black Mamas Matter Alliance is hoping to change, with a header reading: “We envision a world where Black mamas have the rights, respect, and resources to thrive before, during, and after pregnancy.”