Another beautiful forward for “Birth. A Black Womans Guide to Surviving and Thriving ! Thank you Asatu Musunama Hall
Forward for Birth: A Black Women’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving!
By Asatu Musunama Hall, MA, MPH, CPM
I first met L. Samsarah Morgan in 1999 shortly after completing my Midwifery education at Maternidad La Luz. A younger Black midwife, I had been asked to be on a panel at a community symposium in West Oakland called The Birth Symposium hosted by The Black Dot Artist Collective and moderated by Letisia Ntofon. I was on the panel with a Pediatrician, a Childbirth Educator, and Natural Childbirth Advocate and if I recall correctly a Black Chiropractor. Although I was a Certified Professional Midwife and Licensed in Texas, I was nervous because I did not feel like I was an expert. I had barely earned my stripes in the birth worker game so I tried to rally one of my elders or one of few Mama African American midwives in Oakland to take my place feeling the weight of the community forum on my shoulders to discuss the reality of Black Women giving birth in Alameda County which at this time had the worst birth outcomes for Black women in the nation. Before this forum, I had only met 3 black midwives in the Bay Area, all who were retired or moved onto administrative roles in the hospital and a handful of lay midwives who had also stopped assisting births years before due the unfair laws that didn’t protect homebirth or midwives.
On the day of the “Birth Symposium”, like a Queen, Samsarah glided into the door with her entourage of student Doulas and introduced herself before giving a very poignant synopsis about the plight of mothers entering the hospital without education, knowledge of their rights and nurturing support and advocacy from a doula. She reassured with her loving smile and her nod of head each time I nervously answered the questions that I normally would yield to one of the elders as if to say “you got this baby, breathe, we see you, we got you”, Then as if the flood gate opened more and more sisters young and old stood up to tearfully share their birth experiences of feeling alone, bullied, tricked, raped, discriminated against and traumatized by providers or from their birth experiences in the hospital. Once again, Samsarah rose to speak some beautiful comforting words to the masses of women. Like a healing balm, she acknowledged their pain and trauma and soothed their wounds. This was the first time, I was blessed to experience the wise and graceful force that we call Mama Samsarah in action.
Birth: A Black Women’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving! Is a timely and vital offering from the Brooklyn born and Bay Area Treasure Samsarah Morgan. Samsarah has been a birth worker, teacher, Spiritual leader, activist, advocate for women, children, and families for 30 years. Her calling and Ministry has involved saving lives and protecting women and their babies from the harshness and ordeal that is too often experienced by black women in the United States during birth by reminding them about the sacredness of their bodies, their birth, motherhood and preparing them for every aspect of their journey. From nutrition, mental health, embracing a spiritual foundation, and self-love, to selecting a life- partner, the best birth environment for mother and baby and creating a birth plan, Samsarah delivers with love and great honesty the type of “Motherwit” that black women so desperately need to hear before choosing to become a mother and definitely before giving birth.
Birth: A Black Women’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving! reminds us that in spite of our painful history as African American women in the USA and the present day reality of poor outcomes for many black mother and infants, black women should not fear giving birth or give up on their dreams of becoming a mother. Today, we have access to so much information, tools, and support within our reach such as an increasing number of Birthworkers of color that can help us turn the tide. Samsarah encourages the expecting mother to look inside herself and to do the necessary spiritual, emotional, mental and physical “work” in preparation for a healthy pregnancy, positive birth experience, and a thriving baby. The goal of this guide is to remind us as black women that we are capable of having healthy babies as well as safe and beautiful birth experiences. Black women are worthy of love, happiness and receiving excellent care from supportive health providers and a loving community. Black women are sacred and our bodies are powerful. Most importantly we are good mothers who are able to breastfeed and nurture our babies. I am grateful for having had the honor of reading and commenting on this book. I was totally captivated by the stories and the life lessons which are important not only for mothers but also for healthcare providers and the birth worker community to embrace and share.
I am crowdsourcing to pay for the editing and layout of this book .
If you’d like to help please click the link below ! I thank you in advance for helping me bring this “baby” to birth!
Pregnant mommas, especially mommas of color -hear me , I love you . Take the money that you are using for the trappings of a baby , and hire a doula to support your pregnancy and to walk with you through your labor and delivery in a hospital .
That fancy bottle warmer , or the gender reveal party – hasn’t the possibility of reducing or eliminating harm to you and your infant . Those belly pictures, beautiful as they are , can’t increase your sense of power , bonding and satisfaction that you can feel after your child is born .
Your work with an experienced doula as well as complete childbirth education and Lactation education – can.
Tell you friends instead of all that plastic stuff that You’ll only use for a few months – to please chip in for childbirth Ed. Lactation Ed and birth and postpartum doula care!
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