One of the amazing things about being a doula is that I am a witness to new life being born into the world and parents being born as parents. It’s hard to get more hopeful than that. But as the hours tick by, the shininess of new life begins to fade into the harsh reality of the world we live in. Right now protests are churning across the country, mourning the horrific, casual murder of George Floyd, just the latest of so many lives taken too soon by a system built on racism.
Our country and our culture is founded on a system that oppresses black and brown people. In truth, there are degrees of oppressiveness for anyone who isn’t white and male. We simply cannot change this until we admit that it is there. And it is there.
It is there in excessive force by police, yes, but it is there in so many other ways as well. It’s in the health consequences of a lifetime of chronic race-related stress, it’s when doctors do not listen because they falsely believe that black people feel less pain than white people do, it’s an epidemic of preventable amputations, it is a maternal mortality rate 3x that of white mothers, a disparity that persists even when we account for age, education level, income and prenatal care, it’s when black preschool students are almost 4x more likely to be suspended than white students (these are just little kids!), it is when black people don’t even get a shot at that job interview or don’t even get shown that great apartment because of their race. This is just a small sampling of the thousands of cuts and slashes that injure black, brown and indigenous people and keep them from their inalienable rights. It is wrong.
Letting innocent people die, while we shrug and say nothing is wrong.
I’m white and I still have so much work to do. But I will not deny that this oppression exists. It is exacting a toll on black and brown people every single day.
Where does it start? Where does it end?
In my world it all starts with the parents and the babies. We know that black mothers and black infants fare better when they can have emotional support from people who look like them and can understand their experiences.
If you would like to support efforts that are already underway you can start with these organizations:
- Sacred Roots Doula Program – Portland, OR
- Shafia Monroe Consulting – Portland, OR
- Uzazi Village – Kansas City, MO
- Commonsense Childbirth founded by midwife Jennie Joseph – National Initiatives, with a birth center in Florida
- Black Mamas Matter Alliance – Atlanta, GA
I will be spending the next weeks and months thinking, not only about how I can financially support efforts to mitigate and dismantle oppression and amplify the voices of black people, but how to make that support long term and how to build it into my business plan. I’ll admit, I’m more than a little bit bumbling and lost. But I will try. And I will fail. And I will try again.