One of my lessons in this journey of discovery is that I accept who I am- and all that comes with it. I accept that I am a leader in a movement and at the same time a deeply flawed person. I accept that I was given certain work to do, and that I must do it- to the best of my ability, for as long as I can do it. I accept others as they come and go to partake in this vision. I welcome those for whom this place has been prepared. I live in an extreme state of grace. I have so much to be grateful for. I am so glad I began this journey. It is tough from time to time, but overall, I confess- I love my life. I love waking up everyday and putting my feet on the floor and seeing my dreams become realized in ways I could have never expected. Everyday is a step of faith, yet everyday brings a miracle. Here are a few things in the works:
- The Gathering- A weeklong gathering in the woods of central Missouri for Black birth workers from Kansas and Missouri (and a few guests from other states) sponsored by Uzazi Village and Community Birth and Wellness. This is a learning intensive for us to teach one another skills that honor our African traditions. If it goes well, we'll do it annually, but maybe find a bigger space to accommodate more people. We will use grant money to underwrite the cost so that folks only have to pay a nominal fee. Families are welcome, but you must be willing to pitch a tent and help with communal meals. We expect this event to be ground breaking and move us all forward in the trajectory of becoming self sufficient within our own communities.
- I will be starting a city-wide organization focused on Black infant and maternal mortality. Instead of playing at decreasing disparities, like current local organizations do now, we will do the actual work of dismantling white supremacy as it is expressed in healthcare organizations, that undergirds these disparities and makes them impenetrable to any clinical solutions.
- BWOC- Birth Workers of Color will re-start in April 2017 every 2nd and 4th Friday of the month from 6-8pm. We will have a potluck meal and discuss issues of relevance to birth workers of color. We will share local and regional resources, trainings, and classes. The group will offer a supportive place to land for those who are in or seeking to get into the perinatal fields.
- I will be moving deeper and deeper into anti-racism training, which I am feeling called to in order to work more closely with those who want to make real change. Warm fuzzy feelings don't change outcomes. Gut level hard work and sheer determination do. We can't keep pretending that getting Black women to come to (functionally useless) prenatal care visits will change outcomes. We have to do the work of dismantling discriminatory systems. We must and will focus our efforts there.
- We are currently re-focusing, sharpening and refining Uzazi's vision. With the move to a new space, we will also be doing essential house cleaning with our Council of Elders to tighten things up in order to increase our influence and effectiveness and measure our impact in our community.
- Increasing partnerships. Uzazi Village has worked in its own silo up to this point, but no more. It is now time to join others who are equally invested in the work we are doing to increase both our influence and impact. We look forward to working with others who have demonstrated a common lens on where the problem lies and who seek community led solutions that center families of color and Afro-centric values.
- We now have the required five people (3 in Kansas City, 2 in St. Louis) to start a WOC committee of the Missouri Midwives Association. We will be applying to the organization to start such a committee within the greater organization.
- Watch this Spring for the new Lemonade Series- a front porch gathering (with Lemonade) that will focus on real talk about women of the African Diaspora and Sex. Be sure to wear white, natural hair optional, and come discuss sexual health matters over a potluck lunch at the Guest House. We plan a series of 3 over the Spring and Summer over the following topics: Orgasm Class, Pregnant Sex, and Sex and Body Image.
There is this and so much more to come. I want to hear from the community, what more you would like to see happen at Uzazi Village. Thanks for listening.