The Oakland Better Birth Foundation
Statement on the Detainment of Refugee Children at the U.S. Border
We are breaking children with a broken system.
Children are being separated from their families and neglected, mistreated and abused at the southern border, where the United States meets Mexico and the rest of Central America. This spring has seen a circus of political buffoonery while Republicans and Democrats argue over the origins of this practice and leverage popular opinion for partisan policies on immigration and defense. Meanwhile, children are also being ripped from their families at the borders of private properties, at apartment doorways, in American hospitals and at our schools. As a nation, we have been using children as literal and political collateral for centuries.
Risking everything, children and their families seek asylum from the violence of drug cartels, poverty, and domestic abuse in their home countries – only to be detained, criminalized, and processed in an expensive, disorganized system…one of spotty paper trails, temporary shelters and foster homes, and potentially many months or years apart, marked by crooked care standards and questionable financial practices by the private and government agencies contracted with our tax dollars to care for these people in need. The United Nations has looked at US border practices in documents dating back to 2009 and have found them objectionably severe and inhumane – the cruelty of the experience is not a matter of debate. Here in the U.S., children and their families are also seeking asylum – from extreme poverty, multi-generational trauma, the stresses of daily, immense structural racism and violence, and criminal inequity. They too face a slow and sometimes brutal process – be it through inequitable family courts, blindly dispassionate agencies and service providers, or even the for-profit prison industry. It can be nearly impossible to navigate – and those who do so face more racism, mistreatment and multi-level corruption along the way.
The similarities of these funnels are all too clear to the doulas and community members of the Oakland Better Birth Foundation. We pray for the children and families suffering under some of the worst immigration practices in the modern world, we dedicate our daily work to the liberation and wellness of all families, and we recognize that criticisms of US policy in this area are also appropriate in examining how our government manages child, family and public health in general – particularly when the public in question is majority poor and majority people of color.
Across national lines, neighborhood lines, district lines, race lines, language and class lines, children are being separated from their parental family and fed through a broken system. Yes, it is horrifying to think that we greet desperate families, from infants to grandparents, with a refusal of legal entry to our country and threats of forced separation and imprisonment should they attempt the alternative – while what remains at home for many of these families is at the very least violence and crime, and very likely for many, death. And yet it is not a new reality, this place between hardness and a rock. In local neighborhoods, families are plagued with problems symptomatic of toxic capitalism – costs of living are unsustainably high; lending and crediting companies are predatory; addiction and abuse rates soar in communities who have suffered decades of disenfranchisement and destabilized economies; for-profit racism acting as colonialism, as invasion, as rape, as disease, as slavery – has devastated millions of people over many generations, from today’s Black Americans dealing with the chronic health impacts of collective PTSD and stress to the First Nations communities fighting to keep their traditions alive under years of land loss, lawless business manipulation, alcoholism, and abusive “re-education”.
As doulas and care providers, we who serve the people of Oakland, California see, hear, and support families in crisis. Sometimes a crisis is a need for nutritional guidance and cooking lessons because a young single parent who was raised in foster care never received a healthy model for feeding themselves and their child. Sometimes, it is as simple as helping to arrange a ride to a medical appointment. But sometimes, and far too often for a nation as well-resourced and wealthy as the United States, a crisis is much worse, and the people in our home community are facing issues as life-or-death powerful as those of the desperate folks at our borders. Our domestic solutions for domestic challenges, from Child Protective Services to police intervention and family court, are riddled with inefficiency, abuse, racism and trauma – as are the practices of the Department of Homeland Security, as reported by the United Nations and ACLU in the last decade.
Supposedly “well-meaning” ignorant, politically-fueled practices here and at the border separate children from their safest guardians and puts them in the hands of abusers, profiteers and criminals. Lower-income parents are steam-rolled by restrictive judgements and prohibitive expense. Adoption is a multi-million dollar industry, and the foster system that absorbs both immigrant and American “unaccompanied minors” is renowned for dysfunctional dynamics. This is where many of refugees will end up even though their parents are live, willing and able to care for them – or would be if they weren’t arrested for the misdemeanor of illegal border crossing. At home, poor young Black boys who survive early childhood in this system often end up in the hands of the State, much like their Honduran and Guatemalan counterparts camped in tent compounds along the Texan border, treated like adult men in a judicial system that assigns them the criminal guilt of war-sponsored drug cartels, enmeshing them between paths to imprisonment or death. While millionaires line their pockets with the profits of private detention facilities, prop their feet up, and watch, the US Congress and President twist and mangle the present and future lives of thousands; the fate of innocent people, who come to the United States seeking refuge, is being used as a political pawn in the long-game strategy of the corporatist, conservative, elitist powerful few. It’s disgusting, it’s criminal, and merits full investigation and prosecution for the violation of human rights, as per international law.
It is the lived experiences of Oakland, California and hundreds of other American cities that we call in as evidence that this systemic violence – this fascism – is already prominent and permeating American lives. It is in the regulation of our bodies, in the manipulation of our health and corruption of our sovereignty, in the forcible removal of vulnerable individuals and populations from their communities, in the criminal treatment of children, parents and all people who do not blindly obey the protocol and expectations of an industry-led, profit-based economy of violence. We name this truth and raise our voices in solidarity with the people of Central and South America, with First Nations people, with all the families and citizens of Oakland and of California, with all the world, in demanding safe, humane conditions for all children of Earth, no matter country, creed or color, and the righteous adjustment of our system so as to reunite these families and offer all refugees, all citizens, ALL PEOPLE a reasonable, respectful opportunity for support, safety, and resilience from injustice.
For your fierce advocacy in support of reducing infant and maternal mortality for African American mothers !!
Across the country, Black mothers are subject to maternal health challenges at alarmingly high rates, and Black women overall suffer disproportionately from a lack of access to quality reproductive care. The acknowledgement of this national crisis by our state and federal policymakers is a critical step towards closing the racial health gap facing Black women, children, and birthing persons. BMMA urges more political leaders to join us as we work to improve maternal health outcomes for all Black Mamas.“
From her Democratic response to the State of the Union Address.
While I very much appreciate her statement , I must say that I’d wish she addresses as well that issues of racism and white supremacy are the causes of the incredibly poor outcomes in the back community.
I wish she’d spoken on the vital importance of culturally competent care and MIDWIFERY and that the US need to join the rest of the industrialized world in having midwives as the primary health providers for pregnant women.
Yes, I wanted more – but I thank Ms Abrams for opening the conversation on the world stage .
Oakland Better Birth Foundation
Yesterday in the early morning hours, the city of San Francisco welcomed a new citizen !
Say hello to baby Miles! He is his parents’ prize after a very challenging labor . May this beautiful family grow in love and light together . May this son ever be the delight of his parents’ life. May he grow to be strong, loving, and brilliant; fed by the love so deeply felt by these parents for their first born child !
And may we, his community strive to be worthy of this sparking new life!
Baby 1016 for doula Samsarah
Baby 25 for doula Mika
Blessings from Samsarah Therese Morgan and Shiphrah’s Circle Community Doulas.
Here’s to another year of providing education, physical support and inspiration to pregnant and birthing families and Birthworkers.
Visit our Facebook page and like us to stay informed of our offerings !
Peace always to you and to all you love!
Dear Clients, Community , Family and Friends,
Please join me and the doulas of Shiphrah’s Circle Community Doula Program as we say good bye to 2018 and embrace a light filled vision for the New Year!
Plz come have a glass of wine and enjoy hor’dorves offered by our friend Tim Nugent and his staff at Shakewell restaurant. (Cocktails are available for purchase )
We plan to have spoken word by activist , momma and amazing human being , Aqueila Lewis!
Have you a poem or song you’d like to share about your journey as a parent, person or Birthworker ? An open mike will be available !
Raffle tickets will be available. Proceeds will support the work of Oakland Better Birth Foundation and its programs!
This is a kid friendly & free event!
I look forward to seeing you.
Happy Holidays! Happy New Year !
Founder , Executive Director
Oakland Better Birth Foundation
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The mission of this #normalizebfing photo project is to document diverse variations of normal breastfeeding across cultures and delivery methods of breast milk. Nursing, pumping, and donated breast milk are the simple ways we can all give our babies a great start in life.