We Need You: a note to our white community members, with regards to BLM.

Let me start by saying, if you need support around perinatal mental health services, please reach out. 

The murder of George Floyd lit a fire in the United States. While there have been many examples of protest movements in history, this feels different. White people and non-black POC, are not only on the streets in solidarity, but are being asked to examine the role we play in White Supremacy. White Supremacy itself is a trigger term for many. (I see you!) It’s hard to feel attacked when you feel "not racist." Feelings aside, it is undeniable that the disenfranchisement of the black community occurs and is perpetuated by the systems that were created by and benefit white people. At best, we’ve been complicit while living in this world

Last week members of the NYC birth community started asking a very popular birth-y Instagram account, to make a statement in solidarity of black lives. She responded by explaining that her “platform was not political” and has since blocked those of us who asked her to reconsider. While this might be a common perspective, it is unacceptable. Since we are all coming from different starting places, I feel compelled to explain why. 

Childbirth is always political.  

Childbirth is the moment where racism, sexism, and the worst of capitalism intersect. A moment that quite literally affects each and everyone of us. 

The United States economy developed in the uterus’ of enslaved Black women. The field of modern obstetrics was invented by experimenting, without anesthesia, on enslaved Black women. Prior to modern obstetrics, Black midwives with deep ancestral knowledge of birth delivered both Black and White babies, and then, were intentionally cast aside to make way for white men to create the Business of Birth. This legacy influences the birthing experiences of everyone to this day. Our current system disproportionately harms Black and Brown mothers, but hurts each and everyone of us. We have been systematically, disconnected from our bodies, from our instincts, from our agency. Our power, as the people growing and birthing the next generation has been stripped from us.

In light of this, I started Birth Smarter to be a part of the solution. I am not alone in my desire or efforts to disrupt the conventional power dynamics between birthing families and medical institutions, and empower families to own their experiences. However, in the last few weeks, it has become overwhelmingly clear that white people, in particular, but really, everyone has some huge strides to make when it comes to deconstructing the systems that uphold white supremacy. The systems that directly harm members of our black community.  Myself included. 

Since childbirth is a metaphor for everything, I know that there are no easy answers. Can you eliminate back pain with just a pregnancy pillow? Have a healthy pregnancy only by taking prenatal vitamins? Skip a birth class because you're getting an epidural?  Optimal physiologic birth and breastfeeding require us to live in alignment. Preparing for labor is an opportunity to work on our posture, our hormones, our mental health, our relationships, our agency. Real progress and real results come from modifying our deeply rooted habits.

The national upheaval in support of Black lives demands that all of us align our actions with our values. While the state of the world may not be your fault, creating a better future is your responsibility. If you have not yet, please step into the arena. I know how easy it is to think that you don’t matter. But, when that doubt comes, think about the ripple effect or consider the tipping point. YOU matter. YOUR work. YOUR words. YOUR money. YOUR actions. Please use whatever you have. We need you. 

Resources 

There are so many resources being shared right now. Here are a few that I think will be particularly helpful to this community.  

  1. This Google Doc offers self-reflection questions and action steps for folks at multiple stages along the journey of participating in anti-racism work. It is one of the best overall documents I’ve seen. I highly suggest starting here. 

  2. If you’re interested in reading, grab these titles: 

    1. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robyn Diangelo 

    2. How to be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi 

    3. So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo 

    4. Me and My White Supremacy, by Layla F. Saad 

    5. Buy these books from an amazing black owned bookshop

  3. Donate to, subscribe, and learn more from these organizations 

    1. Black Mamas Matter

    2. Sister Song 

    3. Ancient Song 

    4. Everyday Birth Magazine 

    5. Loveland Foundation 

    6. Campaign Zero

  4. Check out this amazing Initiative / App to holds the medical system accountable for bias. 

  5. Commit to working in local politics. Research POC in your community running for office. Volunteer your time. Donate. 

  6. Specifically, on the message of police brutality, specifically, we must work to get Law 50A repealed. Law 50A protects police officers personnel records barring the public from knowing of any past misconduct. And it exempts police officers from a rule that other public servants are held to. More here: tinyurl.com/repeal50A-Calls. If you can make calls, Here’s a script

Also, as a reminder: this is hard, you can do hard things, and we are right here with you.

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