Birth(ing) Justice

At the most recent Sistersong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective conference in Miami, I heard a number of midwives and doulas talking about birth(ing) justice. A few people called it birth justice, others called it birthing justice.

The articulations of what this term means vary from person to person, but I understand it as a way to frame our work for a better culture of birth and reproduction within an intersectional politics.

I’m really excited about the people behind these movements. Similar to the history of reproductive justice, it seems birth(ing) justice is being pushed and developed by women of color in the birth activist community. Three groups that I connected with in Miami connected to this birth(ing) justice work: Mobile Midwife in Miami, Florida, Black Women Birthing Justice in Oakland, California and Black Women Birthing Resistance in Atlanta, Georgia.

All three have different focuses, different projects, different collaborators–but seem to share a vision for centering birth work in the context of social justice, while centering the experiences of marginalized populations.

I am beyond overjoyed to see such energy around birth activism, in particular by and for women of color. Also to see birth activism articulated within a much broader political framework is exactly why I started Radical Doula over four years ago–because I felt alone in my politics and passion for changing the culture of birth.

I am so glad to be able to say that I am no longer alone.

More information after the jump about each group.

About Mobile Midwife:

Our walk is rooted in the Reproductive Justice movement; it must be innovative, autonomous, and led by women of color. Through Mobile Midwife, we aim to expand Birth Justice with story telling, popular education, and community organizing to improve access to midwifery care.

We’ve learned with and from you. Using popular education and community organizing, we will continue to examine the roots of inequality and injustice in relation to childbirth. Armed with this knowledge, and with you, our beloved community, we can demand and create the type of change we desire when it comes to our reproductive health.

We’ve cared with you and for you. In spite of an increasingly violent medical environment, midwifery care creates space to have safe, gentle, and empowered birth experiences. Midwifery care is holistic, healing, and humanistic. It has rich herstory, legacy, and roots in communities of color. Our vision for Mobile Midwife is to make this care accessible and central to all, especially Black, Brown, immigrant, indigenous, queer, transgender, low-income and other marginalized communities.

About Black Women Birthing Justice:

Black Women Birthing Justice is a collective of African-American, African, Caribbean and multiracial women who are committed to transforming birthing experiences for Black women. Our vision is that that every woman should have an empowering birthing experience free of unnecessary medical interventions. Our goals are to educate women to advocate for themselves, to document birth stories and to raise awareness about birthing alternatives. We aim to challenge medical violence, rebuild women’s confidence in giving birth naturally and decrease disproportionate maternal mortality.

About Black Women Birthing Resistance:

Our Vision is to resist and transform a historical and contemporary legacy of trauma and violence of socially and state controlled birthing.

Our Mission is to document, honor and sustain the role of Black women, families and our traditions of birthing as legacies of survival and resistance against the attempted genocide of our communities.

We will gather birth stories that name the traumatic birthing incidences of Black women & lift up our resistance to the social control of Black women’s bodies by the birth industry in the South.  We will use these collective stories to build strategy and action towards responding to and transforming our birth experiences.  We seek to sustain our physical, emotional, spiritual, environmental well being and safety, and to honor the sacredness of our birthing traditions.

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