Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Reluctant Revolutionary

Just returned from a weekend retreat at a retreat center in central Missouri.  I met with the faculty of the future Uzazi Academie.  We are still in need of a midwife to teach the second and third year courses, but we have the first year covered.  Starting a CPM program is a large vision to hold, but so it a birth center and a prenatal clinic.  There is so much going on all at once.  I may be involved in creating a certification process for midwifery instructors and preceptors.  I am humbled by this work, but it must be done and no one else in my local community has stepped forward to do it.  Our community needs midwives now!  We need birthworkers from within our own communities.  Where are the Black nurses, midwives, doulas?  We need them now, and if they don't exist- we must cultivate our own.  There are marvelous women of color around the country doing great works- but there is so much more to be done.
Our retreat was full of making prayers and calling upon the Ancestors for wisdom.  There were five of us for the entire retreat with three more stopping in to join our circle for just a little while.   We had gatherings around the fire circle, with our facilitator, Sister Morningstar.  We gathered herbs, walked the creek, did journaling, feasted on delicious vegetarian meals, had drumming circles sang\songs, told stories, practice Village Prenatals, brain stormed and just took an opportunity to bond with one another.  We talked about what type of school we wanted to create and what our future students would look like.  We discussed the future of midwifery and where things are headed in the US.  We talked about how this systemic racism has sabotaged communities of color and set them up for failure.   We don't have high infant mortality rates because our bodies don't work, but because the system does not work for us.  We are creating a new system, one that works for communities of color because it comes from communities of color.  The Revolution is Real and we invite others to join us in this work.
We are recruiting women of color who want to become midwives, lactation consultants and community health workers.  A change will come when we create it.  We are creating it now.

Last weekend I did my Walk for Black Infant Mortality Awareness.  I walked 10 miles on both Saturday and Sunday from Columbia MO to Jefferson City MO to bring awareness to this issue.  I was accompanied by some amazing women- from across the state of Missouri.  I am building a coalition of women who want to change the way birth is viewed and  'managed'.  'Expectant management' is no longer a viable philosophy for caring for birthing women.  We must throw off patriarchal systems of oppression, that view women as broken and birth as something to be controlled.  The current system of birth is literally killing us.  Black women and babies suffer untold trauma and horror at the hands of the current system.  We cannot continue this way.  We will not continue this way.  The way forward is full of hope.  We have nothing to else to lose since our lives are not held sacrosanct.
How can you help?  Spread the word.  Foward this essay.  Tell women of color you know about our work.  Support the work of Uzazi Village with a donation today.  We are in need of support to keep the work going.  We are in need of workers and interns.  I could really use an executive assistant. Invite me to come speak to your group about Health Disparities in the Black Community or come here  and share your talents with us.  There is so much work to be done and the workers are so few.  Challenge the status quo where you are.  Push for change in your local hospitals and clinics.  Speak truth to power.  Demand a place at the table, and then fearlessly speak your truth.  If we don't speak up, nothing will change.  If we don't begin to make a change, nothing will change.  Women and babies will continue to needlessly die.  The Revolution is here and now.
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