Thursday, July 2, 2015

Another Committee? No Thank You

I am fresh returned from another trip.  I had yet another opportunity to hear how yet another organization  has set up yet another taskforce/committee/ad hoc group whose sole purpose is to yet again eliminate disparities within the profession and or within our community.  It all sounded very familiar.  Then I remembered why.  I've been hearing these very same messages from every maternal infant health organization I've been a part of throughout my 20s, 30s, and 40s and now into my 50s.  That is a grand total of 4 decades of listening to someone else's promises of a better day.  That day has never come.  Disparities still exist in all perinatal professions, and perinatal outcomes in the African-American community have actually gotten WORSE over the past 4 decades. 

I'm afraid I'm going to have to decline yet another 'opportunity' to be on someone's super terrific committee designed to pull me and my community our of a socially-bound slump.  There are those of us within communities of color creating real world solutions.  Anyone who wants to be a part of those solutions can come join us- or go form another self-serving committee.  The  help our communities has been promised has never shown.  While clinicians fight their professional practice battles, our women and babies die in greater numbers.  We can't wait for others to prioritize Black lives.  We must raise up an army of perinatal professionals that can care for our long neglected communities.  We must lead these efforts ourselves.  We are the only ones that will save us.  We are our own best hope for ending health inequities.  Learn about the groundbreaking work of Mama Toto Village, Common Sense Childbirth, the International Center For Traditional Childbearing, A More Excellent Way, and of course, Uzazi Village.  These models were created within communities of color, by communities of color, for communities of color and they are popping up all over the county.

On a recent trip, I met with a group that will be starting a national association.  We will decide and set the standards for programs in our communities and certify them- standards that are not exploitative and that truly support the attainment of improved outcomes.  These are the types of efforts that all of us have the opportunity to participate in.  I implore you to do these things in whatever capacity you can where you are, to what extent you can. We need to set the standards, hold the purse strings, give out the grants, offer the jobs, etc.  Outside organizations, institutions and agencies will never hold the answer to healthcare inequities- they are too embedded in the culture of the problem or they are too distracted with their own issues to be invested in ours.  Others may join us, but they may not lead.   Please join me in being a part of the solution. Now is the time for brilliance and innovation. Let us be bold.  Let us be decisive. Let us look inward to our own best selves.  Let us seek the wisdom of the ancestors.  We are our best if not only hope.  If we do not find a way- there will not be a way.