America is Failing Black Parents. We Need to Talk About It.
America is Failing Black Parents. We Need to Talk About It.
June 5, 2020

America is Failing Black Parents. We Need to Talk About It.

America is Failing Black Parents. We Need to Talk About It.
America is Failing Black Parents. We Need to Talk About It.

Hi there,

It has been a difficult year, few months and few weeks for our world and our country, especially for Black Americans. The Black community has withstood disproportionate rates of COVID-19 infection, job loss and very public violent deaths that are emblematic of the institutional racism that is still alive and well in our social systems.

We have been listening closely to the trauma that our Black colleagues, friends, parents and soon-to-be parents are living through right now. Our hearts are heavy for a community grieving through deep and distinct pain.

We know it’s our responsibility to look inward to better serve Black families. Part of that responsibility is keeping our ears open to you.

If you seek support from Babylist and our community, how can we serve you better?

If you want to just tell us what you’re feeling or experiencing, we are here. If you have a story to tell, we are listening. If you want that story amplified, we are here to share it. Send our editors an email at editor@babylist.com.

We hope you are able to take care of your hearts and minds today.

In service,
The Babylist team

Racism has a harmful effect on maternal health, and Black parents pay for it with their lives.

“From almost the moment my baby took her first breath, her mother was treated like a 14-year-old drug-addicted welfare queen, there to push out yet another daddy-less baby. They tested my newborn for drugs (though I’ve never taken an illicit substance in my entire life) without my consent — something I later found out hospitals do at disproportionately higher rates with Black babies than white ones. The nursing staff was genuinely surprised (!) that the guy by my side, Nick, was my husband — and actually said that stupid ish out loud.

I wondered then what I know to be true now: It didn’t matter how much money I had in my bank account or how good my insurance was, or that I had a ring on my finger, or that I was smart and accomplished, or that I tried to pay my way out of substandard service. At the end of the day, to almost everyone in that hospital, I was just another Black girl pushing out another Black baby and neither of us deserved to be treated with dignity or respect, much less special.

It happens. A lot.” - Denene Millner, Birthing While Black

America is failing Black pregnant people. The data is clear that racism harms Black parents. Black people are over three times more likely than white people to die from pregnancy-related causes and twice as likely to experience severe maternal morbidities such as hemorrhage, infection, eclampsia, heart conditions and blood clots. These disparities are closely connected to the experience of being pregnant while Black in America. Here are eight ways we can reduce Black maternal mortality (you can participate in #4 right now).

TAKE ACTION:


Between COVID-19 and police brutality, the burden of grief is yet another risk to Black parents’ health.

“These days I turn on the news and I am faced with the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor—young unarmed Black people at the hands of armed, white men, both in uniform and plainclothes. Then there is the death of George Floyd, who died after several minutes of saying, “I can’t breathe,” pleading for a police officer to stop pressing a knee into the back of his neck during an arrest.

On top of that, I worry about the coronavirus. Black Americans are dying of COVID-19 at a rate nearly three times higher than White people. I also think about masks. When unmasked, we Black mothers fear our loved ones will suffer from the risks associated with complications from the disease. When masked, we fear the risks associated with complications of bias and racism.” - A. Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez, The unbearable grief of Black mothers

America is failing Black parents. Today, Black parents are trapped between a public health threat and the longtime reality of police brutality. While non-Black parents wonder whether their children will keep their CDC-recommended masks on in public, Black parents struggle with sending their children out wearing masks. What is the greater risk? Wearing one and mistaken for an armed robber, or not wearing one, risking the contraction/spread of COVID-19? While non-Black parents teach their children the value in questioning authority, Black people teach their children how to interact with authority figures like the police to avoid being killed.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

For Black parents: Your trauma is real. Zahra Barnes, Health Director of SELF Magazine, writes, “Finding mental health support is hard. I know doing it as a Black person can be much harder. But I also know it’s important and that you—even if I’ve never met you—are worth it. Your Black life, happiness, joy, and wellness are worth it.”

For other parents: Show up for Black parents. If you are looking for a place to start, begin with education.


Q: When should I talk to my kids about race?

Earlier than you think. Babies notice and think about race as early as 3 months old. By kindergarten, children have already learned to associate some groups with higher status than others.

Adults often worry that talking about race will encourage racial bias in children. The opposite is true. At home, silence about race reinforces racism by letting children draw their own conclusions based on what they see. We have the power to help our kids develop positive attitudes about race and diversity skills to promote a more just future…but we have to talk about it early and often.

TAKE ACTION:

Prepare for and kick off the conversation about being actively anti-racist with your kids.


A Mother’s Truth

“I didn’t want a son because black boys face an evil world. I didn’t want to teach him how to live his life under a certain threshold. Especially, when I believe he is without limits. The second I saw him I couldn’t spot a flaw, so it’s disturbing that upon single glance he’s seen to have the biggest of them all.

So from day one I’ve strived to protect him. Still; as the days go on the world grows more grim. I told myself if I raise him to love he can overcome anything. I told myself he could be the one to draw hearts in.

For a little guy that’s a lot of responsibility. I’m basically asking him to make blind eyes see. As a black mom it’s unraveling. I find myself constantly questioning. What if that was my baby saying, ‘I can’t breathe’” - @shorttecake

Babylist is dedicated to deepening our support for Black parents. We welcome your ideas on how we can better show up. Email our editors at editor@babylist.com.


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