I asked a group of 99.9% [white] women doing birth work this question, as it really is one of the most important to me:
“What is being done to help and reach pregnant women of color? As you may or may not be aware, women of color are suffering and dying at a disproportional rate in this country.”
“Yeah, not enough is being done here.” (and that was the end of the thought.)
And the icing on the cake:
“The issue is incredibly complex here. We talk about it all the time. Here, why don’t you contact so-and-so about it?”
I kid you not, I lost my mind when I got that response. I wanted to flip over tables and reach through the computer screen and strangle someone.
HELPING SOMEONE STAY ALIVE IS NOT THAT COMPLICATED. JUST HELP.
I’ve been stewing quietly about this next statement I’m about to make: there is a certain level of privilege that exists in this “go natural and claim your birth” movement. Shocker: women of color/pregnant teens/impoverished women who really need to know some of the things privileged women have easy access to don’t. The women who need the most help do not have access to or have knowledge of birth pools, or Lamaze classes, much less health care providers who listen to them and actually want to empower them.
How many of y’all are on public assistance? Have you met some of the health care providers public assistance folks have access to? *Raises hand*
It hurts to be told that it’s complex to help women of color in birth. What does that really mean? Does it mean “I’m too scared to venture out of my comfort zone and do what needs to be done?” Perhaps it means, “I like when it’s easy to help women. Besides, if they really wanted to help themselves, they would just come to me.”
I was trained as a birth doula by an exchange of energy. I received my certification through a fellowship in exchange for helping 3 low-income families with their births. From that experience, I learned that the work is not easy. It took stepping out of my own privilege and being with women who were tuned in with themselves enough to get in touch with the organization that connected me to them. Truth be told, I don’t know that they would have had a doula at their birth if the volunteers did not exist.
I mentioned the demographic of women as white, not to pick on white folks but to make it painfully clear that in some cases, the well being of women of color is really not their concern. And you know what? I’m done asking anyone, black, white, red, yellow, whateverthehell, to pay attention and do something. Blessings to your path, homie. I ain’t about that life.
Which brings me to one of my conclusions on the matter: Women of color are still dying and suffering at an alarming rate. Yes, all women need help and I’m the first person to not care about race, religion or creed when it comes to this topic. With that said, there is a real issue with the privilege that folks have that women who really need the help do not have. And to be fair, women of color, teenage mothers and impoverished mothers really need the help. It’s not that complicated. Will people automatically be open to the help? No. Will it be hard to reach them? Yes.
You just do it. Even if you get through to one person, you have changed the entire course of a person’s life. Don’t tell me it’s complicated. Women and children are dying. Just help. See your privilege. Acknowledge it, cry me a river, build a bridge and get over it.