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Black Maternal Health Week 2021: What to Know & How to Get Involved!

| April 11, 2021

From April 11-17, 2021 the National Birth Equity Collaborative will present programming in celebration of the fourth annual national Black Maternal Health Week. Created and led by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, Black Maternal Health Week promotes awareness, activism, and community building intended to deepen the national conversation about Black maternal health in the United States, amplify community-driven policy, research, and care solutions, and provide a national platform for Black-led entities and efforts on maternal health, birth and reproductive justice.

Mama Glow is committed to Black maternal health every day of the year, and is proud to participate in and amplify Black Maternal Health Week 2021. We sincerely hope you will join us. Here’s what you need to know about Black Maternal Health Week 2021, and how you can get involved:

Statistics show that Black maternal mortality is a crisis that requires immediate action & attention

If you want to be an activist and advocate for Black maternal health, you must first know and process the harrowing statistics and where they originated:

Black mothers in the United States are 2-3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women. Adverse maternal health outcomes impact Black birthing people at all income and education levels. The reasons behind these racial inequities are multifaceted, including lack of access to health care and poor quality of care. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even college-educated Black women die at higher rates from pregnancy-related causes than white women who didn’t finish high school.

“We’re not biologically different; there’s no Black gene or Black heart or Black kidneys,” explains Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, President and Founder of the National Birth Equity Collaborative (NBEC), who also serves on the advisory board of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance. “We’ve spent generations blaming Black people for their outcomes without really addressing the underlying root causes of racism, classism, and gender oppression. So, when people ask me what is the cause for Black maternal death, the answer is not race. It’s racism.”

“We are thrilled to partner with NBEC for Black Maternal Health Week,” says iOne Digital’s Senior VP of Content Allison McGevna-Cirino. “Black women remain as unprotected and underserved as ever, even as we are the very lifeblood of this country’s infrastructure. It is precisely why we are committed to amplifying the organizations making a positive impact in our communities.”

“From the criminal legal system to medical apartheid, reproductive injustices, and state violence, systemic oppression has been mapped across the bodies of Black women since this nation’s inception,” says iOne Digital Senior Director of Content Kirsten West Savali. “It is critical that Black mothers and Black birthing people are supported, protected, empowered, and cared for with respect. The National Birth Equity Collaborative has been at the forefront of making that world possible and iOne is honored to partner with them for Black Maternal Health Week.”

Black Maternal Health Week celebrates the Black female women leading the charge

While Black Maternal Health Week aims to incite activism in the fight to protect the lives of Black mothers and babies, it also celebrates Black life and uplifts the work of Black women who are on the front lines as leaders in the Black maternal and infant health spaces.

“We created Black Maternal Health Week to bring awareness to the Black Maternal Health crisis but to also showcase the work of Black women-led organizations, practitioners, and leaders doing the work in their own communities to support Black Mamas and their families who face discrimination and mistreatment in care,” notes Angela Doyinsola Aina, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA). Continuing, she adds, “A holistic approach to quality maternity and infant care is critical to shifting the statistical outcomes of Black birthing people in the U.S. healthcare system. Training the current and next generation of Black perinatal professionals in the importance of patient-centered, culturally-congruent care can support positive birth outcomes for everyone.”

During Black Maternal Health Week, be sure to turn your attention toward and follow the lead of Black birth workers, policymakers, educators, not-for-profit founders, etc. They’ve committed to this work day in and day out, and have been making significant change in this space long before it was a hashtag.

Policymakers & Advocates Are Meeting Virtually to Take Action for Black Maternal Health

While in-person events remain on hold due to COVID-19, a number of virtual events have been programmed so that you can participate in Black Maternal Health Week 2021 from the comfort and safety of your own home.

Highlights of NBEC’s Black Maternal Health Week programming include a panel discussion entitled “Black Lives Still Matter,” a candid conversation drawing the parallels between what happens to the Black community (e.g. police brutality, COVID) and the unique health experiences of Black women (e.g. endometrial cancer, fibroids, infertility, etc.); maternal yoga, meditation and wellness sessions for birthing people; a virtual town hall with local advocates and policymakers issuing a call to action; a roundtable discussion with Black women and philanthropic leaders; a fireside chat with Members of Congress discussing the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, as well as a sexual intimacy and wellness workshop.

Featured participants throughout the week include Members of Congress, Rep. Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Rep. Alma Adams (NC-12) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ); Deputy Editor of Hello Beautiful Shamika Sanders, movement journalist and NewsOne contributor Anoa Changa; educator and sexologist Dr. Bianca I. Laureano; model and actress Denise Vasi; CEO of Expectful.com Nathalie Walton; Dr. Alisha Liggett and other Black Maternal Health experts as well as other guests representing national organizations such as the Tara Health Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund, and the Institute of Women’s Studies (IWES).

Visit birthequity.org/bmhw2021 for the full listings of NBEC’s BMHW21 programming, partnership, and sponsorship opportunities.

The National Birth Equity Collaborative (NBEC) is a fiscally sponsored program of the Foundation for Louisiana (FFL) founded by Dr. Joia Crear-Perry and is a leading voice on racial inequities in Black maternal health care and birth equity. NBEC’s mission is to create solutions that optimize Black maternal and infant health through training, policy advocacy, research, and community-centered collaboration. Visit birthequity.org for more info.

Black Mamas Matter Alliance is a Black women-led cross-sectoral alliance that centers Black mamas to advocate, drive research, build power, and shift culture for Black maternal health, rights, and justice. Visit blackmamasmatter.org to find out more info.

iOne Digital (www.interactiveone.com) is powered by the mission to create an online community that provides rich content and digital products that engage, entertain and inspire the lives of African Americans. We are the #1 digital platform for the Multi-Cultural Millennials, reaching millions of users each month through a suite of content, social, and local radio offerings. iOne owns and operates a number of branded destinations, including HipHopWired (Hip Hop x Technology), GlobalGrind (Millennials), HelloBeautiful (Women), MadameNoire (Women’s Lifestyle), NewsOne (Affluent), Bossip (Celebrity News & Gossip) and TheUrbanDaily (Men), as well as social networking sites such as BlackPlanet, and more than 50 local radio sites. Interactive One was launched in 2008 by Radio One, Inc. [NASDAQ: ROIA and ROIAK, radio-one.com] to complement its existing portfolio of media companies targeting Black Americans.

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