In September 2012, the Wisconsin NACPM chapter organized a racial justice workshop for birth workers, with trainers from the Groundwork Antiracism Collective.
Over 40 midwives, doulas, and childbirth educators registered, from Minnesota and Illinois as well as Wisconsin.
We brainstormed about our vision for every mom and baby, about barriers to that vision, and how specific systems contribute to these barriers.
We reflected on our own race and class histories (when did our forbears come to the United States? From where? When did they become “white”? What side of the tracks did we grow up on?) and how those histories have made us who we are.
We reflected on a timeline tracing the history of African American midwifery, from slavery through its control and eradication in the mid-20th century. The timeline also included a bit of information about Native American and Japanese American midwifery.
We had the privilege of hearing Erin Tenney, CNM speak about her work with the Red Cliff Tribe doula program.
After hearing about the Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression in Midwifery group’s fundraiser to send students to the 2012 Black Midwives and Healers Conference, Sherry DeVries, CNM
challenged the workshop attendees to a “throwdown” of cash, which raised over $500 for the scholarship funds in a matter of minutes, to bring the AROM fundraiser total to nearly $3000. Thank you Sherry!!
You can see the pile of money there on the floor in front of the speakers!
THANK YOU to the Wisconsin Guild of Midwives for their generous sponsorship, as well as to individual donors!
SOME THINGS PEOPLE LEARNED:
- The term “white privilege”
- The terms “internalized racial oppression” and “internalized racial superiority”
- Examples of how white privilege can be used against racism
- The concept of being a white placeholder in communities of color while midwives or doulas from that community complete their training
- Everyday racism: Only “nude” (white person) pantyhose available at many drugstores in Madison; darker hose available only in South Madison
- We have a lot more to learn
- A MANA panel proposal on the power relationships involved in travel outside the US to get numbers for the CPM–this has been submitted!
- A full-day pre-conference racial justice workshop for MANA 2013–submitted
- Developing an antiracism education module for birth workers around the country
- WI NACPM fundraiser
- Continuing sessions with Groundwork through May 2013
BRAINSTORM: OUR VISION FOR EVERY MOM AND BABY
Access to care
Acknowledgment of oppression and barriers
Communities grow & maintain birthworkers from within
Care meets cultural needs
Providers physically in communities
Affordable care with whom & where they want
No anxiety about basics like food & housing
Birth as a human right
BARRIERS TO ACHIEVING THIS VISION
Lack of personal accountability for perpetuating racism
Barriers to midwifery education for women of colors and poor women
Inequalities in access to all forms of health care
Insurance coverage limitations
Lack of autonomy for midwives
Education of public about midwifery
Women of color, poor women, and midwives themselves are all often in “survival mode” (lack resources/energy to challenge status quo)
Lack of single payer health care
Basic needs not met
SYSTEMS: CHALLENGES AND BRAINSTORMING FOR ACTION
Housing, Education, Prisons, Employment, Food, Transportation
We looked at how these interlocking social systems each contribute to barriers to our vision, and worked together to generate ideas for actions to overcome these specific barriers.
Challenge: Funding and affordability for all students, but especially students of color
Action: Use white privilege (connectedness within existing midwifery community) to network and raise funds to support students of color