HealthRacial Equity

Ending the Black maternal health crisis is about advancing equity

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Black Maternal Health
Photo by Chayene Rafaela via Unsplash.

The Black Maternal Health Week campaign, founded and led by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, is a week of awareness, activism, and community building intended to deepen the national conversation about Black maternal health in the United States. Regardless of income or education level, Black women in America are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women. That’s unacceptable, and caused by systemic inequities – the differences in how people are treated, based on who they are, which create significant disparities in healthcare outcomes.

Dr. Jamila Taylor at The Century Foundation has been a fierce advocate for Black women’s health, elevating and amplifying those creating paths for Black women to claim their seat at existing tables or to build entirely new tables. With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), Dr. Taylor connects, supports and amplifies Black women policy leaders, both nationally and at the state level, to work together toward a beloved community – a community in which every Black birthing person has the resources and support needed to raise the next generation of trailblazers.

This week, The Century Foundation hosted Policy Leaders in Conversation During Black Maternal Health Week – a YouTube livestream, which brought together policymakers, experts and advocates leading work to end the maternal mortality crisis among Black women in the United States. Following are a few of my takeaways from the livestream:

  • Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States, reminded us that we’re all working to “build [ ] a future in which being Black and pregnant is a time filled with joy and hope, rather than fear.” I am proud and humbled that I have been trusted with a Maternal and Child Health portfolio of work at WKKF, which is aimed at making this a reality for Black families and children.

  • It is incredibly important for conversations about systemic inequities that lead to disparities in health outcomes for moms and babies to take place at the highest levels of government. We’ve seen some strong policy advancements – including expansion of Medicaid coverage to 12-months following childbirth and comprehensive policy work to address every aspect of the maternal health crisis in America. And, we’ve seen this movement start the narrative change and cultural awareness necessary to center Black moms in any efforts to improve outcomes in maternal and child health.

  • Listening to our grantees and leaders across the nation discuss what’s required to truly center Black moms and babies reminded me of what I value in WKKF’s DNA. Community members – especially Black women – are working alongside policymakers to define the problems, make decisions, and create solutions. This movement, and the waves it has created, has also birthed and strengthened many leaders who are now committed to racial equity – to advancing the health of Black moms and babies.

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