San Fernando & Santa Clarita Valleys COVID-19 Panel: A Vaccine Conversation For African American Families
Held Wednesday, February 17th, 2021 from 10am-12pm

During this event we discussed concerns and explored options related to the COVID-19 vaccine with a panel of local medical and legal experts. It was an opportunity for our community to ask questions in a safe space. Panelists included:

•         Valley Presbyterian Hospital

•         General Counsel, Tamala Choma Esq.

•         Director of Women’s Services, Marcia Lynch, RN, MSN

•         Los Angeles County Department of Public Health – Tina Franco, MPH, Health Educator

•         September Williams, MD, Physician-Writer & Bioethicist

•         Kaiser Permanente – Sharon K. Okonkwo-Holmes, MD. Family Physician and Physician Lead for the Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Council

Panel discussion was moderated by Aqueelah Russell from Northeast Valley WIC

View the event recap below: 


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KJLH Women's Health Expo - Sponsored by the African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Prevention Initiative

The LA County African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Prevention Initiative will be sponsoring the KJLH Women's Health Expo, to be held on Saturday May 8th. This years Expo will be held virtually, and it is the 3rd year in a row the AAIMM has sponsored the event.

AAIMM will be presenting a panel, "Activating the Village: Everything You Need to Know". Featuring our own Michelle Sanders of the LA County AAIMM Doula Program, and hosted by Tammi Mac.

The discussion will explore the benefits of using a doula, the difference between doulas and midwives, the different types of birth experiences women/birthing people can have, and how pregnant women/birthing people can access free services. 

Find out about: getting the support of a doula, home visitation, mental health support, and having a joyous birth.

Click HERE to listen to the Black Infant Health Program panel presentation and enjoy the rest of the events focused on Black women’s health!
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AAIMM Journal Series - "Dear Baby, When I Love Me, I Love You"

Each woman’s journey toward motherhood is unique and precious. In our work to end Black maternal and infant deaths in Los Angeles County, we sought to connect on an emotional level with the families that we are fighting to protect. We asked Black women to share their pregnancy and birthing journeys with us, as well as their hopes and dreams for their babies. We wanted to show the connection between maternal and infant health, which is a universal experience for all birthing persons and their babies. 

Those responses were turned into journal entries which became a video series of intimate messages and images from mother to baby called, “Dear Baby, When I Love Me, I Love You. Join us in the fight to end Black maternal and Infant deaths in Los Angeles County. Take the “We Are The Village” pledge and follow us on social media so that you can share these videos with your followers.

Watch the first Journal entry below!

Watch the second Journal entry: 

Watch the third Journal entry: 

Be the Village. Activate the Village. 

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The LA County Department of Public Health and First 5 LA, in partnership with the LA County African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Initiative is holding a virtual briefing to kick off Los Angeles County’s Black Maternal Health Week – which was officially recognized by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in March -- and elevate awareness about Black infant and maternal mortality and emerging local solutions. The goal of the week is to raise awareness about the issue, and the efforts of public health and community leaders across the County to oppose racism and discrimination at its root and support healthy and joyous births for Black families.


At the virtual event, attendees will hear from a panel of experts about the racism Black mothers face that leads to health disparities and work across the county being done to make a difference. Panelists include:

  • Deborah Allen, Deputy Director, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
  • Melissa Franklin, CEO of Growth Mindset Communications
  • Raena Granberry, Perinatal Equity Initiative Coordinator, Dept. of Public Health
  • Adjoa Jones, Founding Leader of African-American Infant and Maternal Mortality Community Action Team at L.A. County Department of Health Services Whole Person Care
  • Michelle Sanders, AAIMM Doula Program Coordinator, Dept. of Public Health
  • Brandi Sims, Health Systems Program Officer, First 5 LA
  • Yolonda Roger Jones, Coordinator of Black Infant Health Program; Dept. of Public Health
  • Dana Sherrod, Birth Equity & Racial Justice Manager for Cherished Futures for Black Moms and Babies, Public Health Alliance


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I's Just Sayin': 2 Black Women with Opinions

Join Jan-Robinson Flint and Adjoa Jones for this weeks episode of I's Just Saying:

Click here to listen to the podcast: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1754954/8317019



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We are still accepting donations for youth 0-5 years of age and gift cards fo children over 5. 

Donations may be dropped off Tuesday or Thursday until April 15th.

For questions and donations please contact Dr. Erica Melbourne at (213) 905-8861.

Thank you to our sponsors: Casa Bella Foundation in collaboration with Sun Bum and Yumi 

*socially distant walk-up distribution also available* 



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Motion aims to bring attention to birth justice and the importance of reducing the Black maternal and infant mortality rates in Los Angeles

(Los Angeles County, CA) Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a motion recognizing April 11-17 as Black Maternal Health Week. The motion, brought forward by LA County District 2 Supervisor, Holly Mitchell, is a win for the county’s African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Prevention Initiative (AAIMM), its Steering Committee and Community Action Teams. Launched in late 2018, AAIMM is a coalition of the LA County Alliance for Health Integration (Departments of Mental Health, Public Health, and Health Services), First 5 LA, community organizations, mental and health care providers, funders, and community members.

The AAIMM Initiative mission is to end the unacceptably high rates of Black infant and maternal deaths in Los Angeles County and ensure access to healthy and joyous births for Black families. AAIMM approaches its work by recognizing racism as a root cause of birth inequities faced by the Black community. Black Maternal Health Week was introduced and led nationally by Black Mamas Matter Alliance four years ago and brought to Los Angeles by Black Women for Wellness.

The motion’s text reads:

“Black Maternal Health Week” (April 11-17, 2021) was established four years ago as a national, weeklong amplification of Black voices regarding the maternal health care crisis in the Black community. Locally, the week is celebrated by bringing attention to reproductive and birth justice and the importance of reducing the rate of Black maternal mortality in Los Angeles County(County). In the County, Black women die due to perinatal complications at four times the rate of White women and Black infants die before their first birthday at more than three times the rate of White infants. High mortality rates among Black women and Black infants span across income and education levels, as well as geography, and place a glaring spotlight on the intersection of historical and structural racism, gender oppression, and inequities in the social determinants of health that contribute to disproportionate stress on Black women/birthing people and result in unequal health outcomes that harm both them and their babies.

The Departments of Public Health and Health Services, alongside First 5 LA, launched the African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Prevention Initiative to address birth outcome inequities. The response to this crisis requires stakeholders of all kinds, with Black women in leadership roles, coming together to advance change, practice anti-racism, and ensure access to high quality, comprehensive, culturally relevant reproductive and maternal health care.”

By unanimous decision, the Board agreed to “Proclaim the week of April 11-17, 2021 as ’Black Maternal Health Week’ and within that week, April 16, 2021 ‘The Day of the Black Infant’ in Los Angeles County.”

The AAIMM Prevention Initiative and collaborative partners will be hosting a series of virtual events, celebrations, and social media efforts to create awareness about the unjustly high rates of Black infant and maternal deaths in the county, the roles everyone can play to combat discriminatory systems, as well as resources to support Black families so that they can have access to healthy and joyous births. Information will be shared through the initiative’s website (www.blackinfantsandfamilies.org) and social media channels (@blackinfantsandfamiliesla).

Click here to access the press release. 

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Genesis of Cherished Futures: Health Inequities - Part 1

Racism in the United States is bad for your health. This is especially true for Black people, who for centuries have endured the harmful effects of racist systems. 

College degrees and higher earnings are usually associated with lower incidences of preventable disease. But that’s often not true in communities of color, especially for those who are Black. They continue to experience the most disproportionately negative health outcomes across the board.

Five hospitals across Los Angeles County, along with guidance from Black women community leaders and the support of several health care partners, are working to change that

Compared to their white counterparts, Black babies across the country are twice as likely to die in their first year – in Los Angeles, they are three times more likely. Black moms, women, and birthing people are three times more likely than white people to die from pregnancy-related causes. Most pregnancy-related deaths are preventable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read the full article here!

Acknowledgment: In the wake of a centuries-long struggle to thrive and following an especially poignant 2020, many Black people want to be heard. Not through the raw emotion of their most appalling experiences but from their voices of wisdom. The fact that the Black community is still being defined by racial inequities and health disparities is a testament to the work that lies ahead. Yet there is a light that shows the way forward – the healing power Black women, mothers, and birthing people bring to their communities.

The phrase “Black women, mothers, and birthing people” is used throughout this 3-part series to recognize people who identify as non-binary, honor surrogates, and pay respect to those who have lost a child.

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SLA/SB AAIMM February VirtualiTEA: Diet & Heart Health (Recapping the Event!)

On Friday, February 19, a free VirtualiTEA: Diet & Heart Health event organized by the South LA/South Bay African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Community Action Team brought together a group of over 40 public health and birth workers and new and expectant parents to discuss the importance of holistic health for Black women during all phases of pregnancy and post-birth, from preconception to the postnatal period (one  year after baby’s birth). The live Zoom featured presentations by speakers Nurse Jacqueline Williams, founder of Women’s Global Health Promotion and CEO of Aspire Nursing Consultants, Inc., and Keisha Davis, Doula/Midwife Associate. 


Nurse Williams kicked off the event by emphasizing the importance of heart health during pregnancy, noting the strain that pregnancy can cause on the heart. Pre-postpartum care is critical, Nurse Jackie shared, mentioning that some rare forms of heart failure, Peripartum Cardiomyopathy (PPCM) specifically, can occur after pregnancy. 


She also urged the importance of advocating for oneself during pregnancy. “If that doctor is not listening to you, you may want to find another doctor who will listen,” Nurse Williams said, reminding the women, “I deserve to be listened to. This is for the benefit of my baby and my health.”

Davis spoke about nutrition and prioritizing it as part of one’s lifestyle even before conception. “Everyone should be preparing,” she said. “Preconception is vital. Placenta is what sustains pregnancy and provides nutrition and oxygenation for the fetus. Preparing your womb is important and we do that by making sure you are healthy.”

Moments into her presentation, Davis was interrupted by a text from a mom in labor and the chat blew up:

“Awww! Come on, brand new human!!!” Commented one attendee.

“Yes!!! Babies come on their own time. Our work in action--love this!” Exclaimed another. 

Without skipping a beat, Davis returned her attention to the event once she knew that the mom was safely on her way home from the hospital. She continued by noting that,  “nutrition is not a one-size-fits-all,” and that following an individualized nutrition plan from preconception throughout pregnancy—including healthy snacks to maintain energy during labor—should be an important part of one’s overall wellness strategy. 

“Make sure your womb is healthy,” cautioned Davis. “You want to be sure you’re aligning everything. It’s not just about eating healthy. You want to prepare your body for this new life force.”

Throughout the event, the chat area was lively and supportive, with tips shared on everything from how to add trace minerals to water, vegan recipes, eating for one’s blood type, and the superfood du jour: sea moss. “This sea moss has taken over the chat!” Laughed moderator Payshia Edwards, AAIMM Community Outreach and Engagement Workgroup Co-Chair. Black-owned Nappily Naturals & Apothecary, a health and beauty shop in South Los Angeles, received a lot of love and a group of ladies even planned an excursion to Leimert Park to stock up on nutritional supplies. 

Closing out the event, Adjoa Jones, Co-Lead South L.A./South Bay AAIMM Community Action Team, continued the good vibes and community spirit by leading the group of attendees in the recitation of uplifting affirmations:

  • I embrace the greatness within me. 
  • I accept responsibility for my own happiness and development. 
  • I am building a supportive network that encourages and motivates me. 
  • I am proud of my culture, upbringing and experiences that made me who I am today. 
  • I am a strong Black woman, man, or person who deserves all the good things that are coming my way.

“This was so informative. Thank you!” Commented attendee Summer McBride. 

In case you missed it, February’s VirtualiTEA: Diet & Heart Health is available for streaming on @blackinfantsandfamilies Facebook’s page at https://bit.ly/3dC8hYf

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Celebrating Black Families: Persevering Through...And the Beat Goes On (Reliving the Event)

“Without healthy Black babies and healthy Black mothers, we can’t have a healthy culture,” commented Rayshell Chambers, COO of Painted Brain, as the Celebrating Black Families: Persevering Through...And the Beat Goes On event kicked off on Friday, February 19. Presented by The San Gabriel Valley African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Community Action Team and The Black Mental Health Task Force, the virtual celebration of Black History Month was all about that very thing: creating (and sustaining) a healthy Black culture.  

The event’s central theme, perseverance, was illustrated through the idea of healing from historical trauma collectively as well as creating opportunities to thrive, specifically by creating a sense of real community punctuated by ancestral beats and rhythms. This began with sharing a video on the history of stepping and segued into interactive demonstrations and a panel of members of the Divine Nine (D9).  

Throughout, the audience participated with lots of various emoji reactions and a lively, talkative comments section. Solidarity among sorors and frat brothers was shown in the chat as attendees shouted out their allegiances, “Phi Beta Sigma sends greetings to all,” commented one attendee. The event also had two raffles giving away $25 gift cards to various stores (Target, Amazon, to name a few) to people who registered before 3pm on the day of the event. 

The “Divine 9,” as the group of nine collective Black Greek fraternities and sororities is known, was originally formed as a way to empower Black college students as they carved their paths in the world, thereby forging opportunities for the Black community as a whole. “We want to make sure that we have a seat at the table,” said panelist Mosi Odom, Zeta Phi Beta, noting that the Black Greeks were there for every pivotal moment in Civil Rights history.

“We’re not just some social club,” said Dr. Corliss P. Bennett, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., speaking to the Divine Nine’s commitment to community service work. 

The panel shared programs that the Divine Nine has participated in, including volunteership, fundraising, and donating to other organizations, like The March of Dimes. They also have youth organizations for children. “When you see (the) community, you see us at the front lines,” said Mosi Odom. 

“To strengthen the family we must build a foundation again,” said Ken Barrow, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Barrow spoke about the way that the Divine Nine builds a sense of community, takes care of each other, and creates strong relationships. He tied in the importance of perseverance in maintaining those relationships—particularly as they relate to family. “With perseverance, you do something despite it being difficult,” Barrow said. 

Next up was a live step show from Wayne Lyons, CEO of Empire for the Youth, and Gwendolyn Bush. Lyons began by quoting James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son. Then, with energetic enthusiasm, jumped in the background while Bush spoke, welcoming the audience to Greek life. 

“We work hard, we provide service to all mankind, we provide scholarships, and we set it off!” exclaimed Bush. 

The performance set a joyous tone for the rest of the event, as it segued into a demonstration of the Chicago step by Terrance Jones. “It’s a dance form that can adapt to any style of music,” Jones said as he briefly broke down the history of Chicago Step and shared a video about the benefits of stepping. 

“Stepping is beautiful,” commented attendee Raena Gransberry as the video played. “Couples gliding and dressed sharp.” Indeed, Jones noted, similar to the formation of Black Greek life, stepping was created as yet another way for Black folks to form a sense of community around a cultural touchstone. And from community, relationships form, families are made. 

“This has brought families together,” Jones said. “It was our way to make memories by touching each other.”

Jones got everyone out of their (virtual) chairs to join in some moves. As he pushed his camera back, he revealed blue tape laid down to demonstrate, “dancing in the lane.” 

“What a great mental health invention, both in the Black Greek system as well as for anyone else; the movement, the human connection, the solidarity…this can do so much (for) someone struggling but not yet able or willing to connect with more formal services,” commented Melinda Keily, BSN, RN, IBCLC. 

The interactive segments continued with a drumming session and demonstration by Cedric Jones of Music Tree. Drumming on a Djembe, Jones gave mini lessons about the African roots of Cumbia, Kuku and Fanga rhythms, encouraging the audience to play along. After his presentation, Jones played the event out as a spoken word presentation expounded on the meaning of perseverance. 

To learn more about upcoming free virtual events, visit blackinfantsandfamilies.org

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