By Sophie Brigstocke
This week we saw, yet again, that racism is alive and well in the world. Many of us watched or heard of the senseless killing of a man at the hands of another. It was shocking and deeply upsetting. It was also not an isolated incident.
How does this relate to doulas and maternity? Sadly, far too closely. In 2018 the MBRRACE report was released which showed that 5 times as many black women died in childbirth and the perinatal period as white women. These statistics are current, not historical. Something is seriously wrong in our culture, behaviour and attitudes that this is the truth of the situation. In the vast majority of stories I have come across black women report not being heard, not being respected and certainly not being supported. Support, respect and listening are values that we hold dear at Nurturing Birth. So, how can we support what appears to be an inherently racist society to shift and change? How can we make birth better for BAME people?
I was shown a powerful image on a training course which showed the difference between equality and equity. Both are about promoting fairness, equality being focussed on giving everyone equal rights. Equity looks at what someone has to start with, recognises unfair advantage and seeks to give people what they need in order to have the same opportunities. How can we create equity in the maternity world? How can we make sure that those in the BAME communities are being treated in the same way as their white counterparts?
Kemi Johnson, a black British midwife wrote today
“Be anti-racist. Being appalled isn’t enough. Educate, collaborate and spend/share your resources in ways that reverse the impact of a whole world being anti-black. Let’s be united in pro-love. It’s time to create a new way of living – a new way of being. It’s time”
We recognise that there is so much to learn and consider so we will continue to do the work. It is likely we won’t get things entirely right, so apologies for that. Our intention is for Nurturing Birth to be an inclusive, anti-racist community and course provider. We welcome your support and recommendations. For now, here are a few resources we have found really useful in our learning if you want to join us on the journey.
Nova Reid is a Diversity and Anti-Racism Campaigner – she offers courses, a podcast and is a keynote speaker, including TedX.
Trudi Lebron is an Impact Coach who talks about Equity, Diversity and Race in the Coaching Industry
Why I am No Longer Talking to White People About Race is Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book – UK Journalist and Author.
Sophie Brigstocke is the Director of Nurturing Birth and facilitates many of the doula training courses. She is a birth and postnatal doula, breastfeeding counsellor and baby massage teacher based in South West London.