The recent shocking Supreme Court decision reversing Roe v Wade has reverberated across our AAIMM network. Not only is the decision harmful and completely lacking in compassion, it is an afront to bodily agency and stands to inequitably impact Black women/birthing persons, who experience death and dangerous complications from pregnancy and childbirth at greater rates than other groups.
Below are statements from partners and advocates in the decision:
AAIMM Village Fund grantee, Parenting for Liberation (P4L) is an organization that supports Black parents in their efforts to heal from historical and ongoing trauma while interrupting intergenerational violence. Its broad definition of “parent” enables it to have a larger scope of influence in building resilient and joyful Black families within the community it serves. Launched in 2016 as a virtual platform to connect, inspire, and uplift Black parents as they navigate and negotiate raising Black children within the social and political context of the United States, P4L has grown into an anti-violence movement for Black parents. To date, P4L has reached more than 20,000 people through audio podcasts and engaged nearly 30,000 individuals through social media, a self-published storybook workbook, blog posts, and opinion pieces, and recently released its inaugural book written by founder and executive director, Trina Greene Brown: Parenting for Liberation: A Guide for Raising Black Children (Feminist Press, 2020).Read more
Lydia O. Boyd is a Lactation Specialist who provides breast/chestfeeding support and education to expectant and current breast/chestfeeding families in Los Angeles County. In addition to supporting new parents during the early post-pregnancy period, she also provides care for the transition back to work or school after maternity leave, when weaning, and in the event of a pregnancy loss. Although she serves all families regardless of race, the focus of her work is with Black-identifying families belonging to the African diaspora.
Boyd’s 13 years of research and experience in counseling, coaching, and teaching other Black women throughout the breast/chestfeeding journey has made her especially qualified to speak to racial disparities within the birthing community and provides her with a unique perspective and position to support Black mothers, giving them a space where they feel centered and supported. “We are the mothers in the Black community,” Boyd stated, speaking of Black women. “We understand first-hand what we need.” Her work strives to provide a reconnection to the honor and pride of breast/chestfeeding that has been lost from years of oppression.Read more
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
“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.