I’m in grad school right now. Before I started, I spend WEEKS doing all my blogging and social media for the duration of my program, so everything you have been seeing and will be seeing for months was written and scheduled last Fall. I haven’t even written anything about COVID because I was knee deep in papers. But now, I have to come back over here and write. I must speak up about what’s happening in this world, and about the pain, frustrations and grief that need to be healed.
Black Lives Matter.
They matter every. single. bit. as much as any other lives, and that’s exactly why they need our focus, our understanding, and our work for change right now. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. It is up to every single person to pay attention and work to make changes in our society so that the lives of our community members who are black get the same value and respect as everyone else. Our black community is suffering, and it needs to stop.
As a white woman who is trying to learn and be better, I have a few suggestions for how you and I can help. While we did not necessarily *make* this mess, we inherited it, and it is up to us to step up and work to fix it. And that fix starts within. These are all things I’m trying to do as well:
Listen. Just listen. Don’t put in your two cents. Don’t even ask questions. Let those who have not been heard be the ones to speak, and let them set the tone and the topics. Don’t discount a message because you don’t like the way it was delivered.
Keep an open mind and heart even if it hurts. Drop defensiveness and be open to change. When you know better, you can do better. But first you have to be willing to know better.
Seek out information from different perspectives than your own. This might involve entering spaces you might not normally go, but if you are invited in, go and listen and learn. It might mean talking with people you might not normally approach. Take the initiative to hear those perspectives, but remember that the black people you know are not your personal educators.
Invest in learning from POC. Attend a training, buy a book (and actually read it!), take a class. Make sure you are financially supporting the POC who are doing the work to help you learn.
Avoid the word “but” in your conversations. I’m seeing a lot of “It’s awful how black people are treated, but….” etc. Skip the “but” – and just sit with and think about the first part.
Contribute money to the causes There are many options here. You could contribute to an activist group run by POC. You could contribute to legal funds. Donate to a scholarship fund for POC to become doulas or midwives. To black breastfeeding initiatives. To organizations working to erase racial disparities in health care. There’s so much work to do, and your financial support can help. If possible, make it a regular thing. I recommend making sure your money supports organizations run by POC as well. No one knows the needs and solutions better than those who live it.
Advocate for Policy Change – Campaign Zero has some concrete policy solutions that work towards ending police violence. Write to your local, state, and national legislators to advocate for systemic change. And keep doing it.
Amplify black voices. Share and direct people to hear the voices that have for so long gone unheard or dismissed. In that vein, I’ll end here with a list of resources, trainings, books, and people you can follow and learn from, in and out of the birth world.
Some I’ve read, some not yet.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Teaching to Transgress by Bell Hooks is on my reading list. As a childbirth educator, I hope to find it applies.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
They Can’t Kill Us All by Wesley Lowery
Exploring the Self: A Doula’s guide to discussing race, gender and privilege in birth and postpartum work webinar with Veronique Richardson and Aimee Brill
When Doulas use Equity as Their Secret Sauce webinar with Natalie Burke
TIME: The Kalief Browder Story (Netflix)