Nationally Rally for Change: A Full Scale Birth Revolution on Labor Day

Monday, September 3, 2012 10am-12pm. Your mission should you choose to accept it:


A massive uprising is on the horizon. Thousands of men, women and children will gather on September 3rd, 2012 as part of a national movement. Improving Birth’s “National Rally for Change on Labor Day” is being hosted in close to 100 major cities, in all 50 states across the country. Thanks to the intricate works of social media, has been able to organize a massive movement to bring awareness to the lack of evidence-based maternity care in the US. One writer coined it as
“The largest women’s movement in decades.”

Are you going? I am! Find out where the closest rally is happening near you.


Black Women’s Birth Experiences in the South

I am so incredibly excited about Black Women Birthing Resistance:

Over the span of the project we hope to gather stories within 5 Southern states (Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia & Mississippi) from doulas/midwives/ob-gyn’s/reproductive justice, healing and health justice advocates and organizers who are speaking to medical birthing incidences of abuse that highlight the subsequent targeting of Black women’s bodies.

Our work will provide a historical context for Black women’s birth experiences in the South; emboldening Black women to view their individual birth stories within a larger narrative, and to remove the guilt, anger, and shame resulting from traumatic birth experiences.  We want to honor all birth experiences of all Black bodies and genders and have chosen to focus on Black women bodies first to understand the medical industry’s initial entry point on our birthing traditions for the last 100 years.  By uplifting the impact and consequences of these historical practices we will then be able to draw a link to contemporary Black birthing experiences including l/b/g/t/i/q parents and people with developmental, physical, emotional and environmental disabilities.

HT to Guerrilla Mountain Medicine for bringing my attention to this.

On Cultural Competency

Since we’re already on the topic:

I have long maintained that teaching cultural competence through the use of fact-learning about specific populations is deeply flawed and limits thinking.  You know, those books with the special sections on “African Americans,” “Asian Americans” and “Hispanic Americans.”

There are times when I think some facts about specific cultures are useful.  For example, I think it’s helpful to know that some people don’t wear shoes inside the house.  But you wouldn’t need to know that little factoid if you were an observant sort.  And even if you were not, you could simply gracefully remove your shoes when asked.

I used to naively believe that educated people were less racist.  Instead I found they are simply representative of the population at large.  In fact, sometimes they are more racist simply because power and privilege blind them.  Similarly, cultural competence has little to do with formal education.  I used to think that cultural competence has to do with exposure, but now I don’t believe that either.

Read the full article over at Resist Racism.


Teaching Diversity at Midwifery School

Recently, I was asked to teach the diversity course to the first year students at my midwifery school. I was completely surprised and honored to be asked to do so. At my school, the diversity class is a brief 3-hour seminar. That, coupled with one other brief seminar on cultural competency in the second year is the full extent of time we spend talking and thinking about anything that amounts to reproductive justice in my book. It is the only time we have to explore and examine providing birth services to folks who are not White, middle or upper class, straight, Christian, able-bodied, English-speaking, American citizens (etc. etc. etc.) clients. It is something I think homebirth midwives on the whole do not talk enough about, but that’s a whole other post meant for another day. However, I do think it’s crucial to give all midwifery students a good basic understanding of the issues at play here and some tools to keep exploring.

As far as I could tell, the class went over fairly well. It definitely was a good learning ground for myself and how I might design future trainings. I started the class by telling the students that I hoped they walked out of the class with their interest piqued, curious to learn more. Basically, we talked about the meanings of prejudice and oppression, broke down the ways in which oppression is systemic, and then talked about the ways in which we can change things, both on an individual and a systemic level. There’s not a whole lot you can learn about anti-oppression work and reproductive justice in 3 hours, so I viewed this as just the tippy tippy top of the iceberg. My hope was that if I gave them just a taste that they would go home wanting more and delve into more learning on their own.

The next exciting part of this story is that just today I volunteered to offer this training to my class and it looks like it might be offered to local midwives who are interested as well. This seems like a good place for me to get started and hopefully keep talking to folks about these issues. My hope is that some more awareness of anti-racism, anti-oppression, and reproductive justice work can truly transform midwifery.

Reproductive Justice

Do you remember a while ago when I posted about Mia Mingus and Sebastian Margaret’s Disability Justice workshop at the 2010 CLPP Conference? Mingus went through an incredible graphic utilized by Spark Reproductive Justice to help flesh out all of the nuances and aspects to reproductive justice and showed how this same framework could be applied to other social justice focuses such as disability justice and environmental justice. About a month ago, Spark posted that same graphic on their blog and I’m happy to share it with all of you! Check it out.

Outlaw Midwives Zine!

The Outlaw Midwives Zine and it’s time to celebrate. I have been waiting for this zine to come out for so long, I’m doing a little jig right here in the living room. Go check it out here and make sure you tell all of your friends about it.

And while you’re reading, if you look very carefully, you might just find a piece written by yours truly!

Thank you Mai’a for putting this fantastic piece of work together. Can’t wait for the next one.