There’s no denying the political chaos of 2017, a year of painful assault after assault on our most marginalized communities. There’s also no denying the outstanding resilience of 2017, the rising tide of voices speaking in unison, the movement moments bridging resistance efforts and unifying individual and collective action for change.
The reality of Erica Garner’s death, devastatingly just one of countless black women disproportionately bearing the brunt of maternal mortality rates across the nation, weighs on our hearts and minds as we enter the New Year.
“Erica, 27, was not only an activist and a daughter, she was a postpartum mother. In August of 2017 she gave birth to her second child and shortly after she had a heart attack. Doctors soon discovered that her heart was enlarged. Instead of spending these precious months recuperating and bonding with her new babe, she continued to fight against the implications of police brutality in and upon her black community.
“Many women can attest to the weight of motherhood–we must integrate our social, maternal, and personal responsibilities–we do it at the expense of our own bodies. But black mothers and women of color have an entirely heavier burden–the systemic weight of racism.”
– Nova Cox, We The [White] People Killed Erica Garner: Black Maternal Mortality + White Birthworkers
And then in January, we read the harrowing account of Serena Williams’ birth experience in a Vogue article on her pregnancy and motherhood:
“She walked out of the hospital room so her mother wouldn’t worry and told the nearest nurse, between gasps, that she needed a CT scan with contrast and IV heparin (a blood thinner) right away. The nurse thought her pain medicine might be making her confused. But Serena insisted, and soon enough a doctor was performing an ultrasound of her legs.”
Acknowledging that institutionalized racism affects all aspects of our society (including birth), we landed on a theme for 2018:
If there’s one big picture take-away from 2017, the one thing on the minds of most birth workers, it’s that we can do better. We must do better. Because we’re not expecting any institution that upholds the status quo – from modern-day obstetrics to our federal government – to do us any favors.
That’s always been the driving philosophy behind growing a movement of self-empowered DTI doulas, cultivating a network of supporters that help to shift autonomy back to the birthing individual.
2018 is bound to be a year of tremendous growth – and yes, we know, we know, growth is the name of the game when it comes to a new year. But here’s some proof to get you excited about what’s to come this year, tangible steps towards a more inclusive and accessible DTI:
A couple of months ago, we launched our first ever fundraiser, which aspires to provide access to scholarships for all of our programming. (Up until now, we’ve offered four full scholarships for each in-person training, including scholarships for people of color, trans and nonbinary doulas.)
DTI members, friends and family members, extended social networks, anyone reading this blog: Spread the word about our fundraiser! We can’t do this alone, but we believe in the power of our community with a shared mission.
By the way, if you didn’t know: We offer online and in person curriculum beyond doula certification. When we say we want to raise funds for all of our programming, we mean all, including our new Lactation Support Specialist Program (for which registration is now OPEN, with the first session in April).
And here’s another exciting first happening this year: We’re offering our first ever doula training for people of color (including queer, trans and two:spirit people) in Cleveland, Ohio!
In partnership with ATNSC: Center for Healing & Creative Leadership, the POC doula training will train and certify participants in both birth and postpartum doula care, starting with online components of basic lactation education and anatomy and physiology of birth followed by a 4 day in-person training covering DTI’s full curriculum led by Malika Hook Muhammad, DTI Educator and Administrative Director and M. Carmen Lane, MSOD Founder & Director, ATNSC.
his training, along with our fundraiser to support accessibility to all of our programming, our 2018 reading list, and whatever other surprises (wink, wink, something big is coming next week) we’ve got in store for 2018, are representative of the core values the DTI Core Team and Educators brainstormed and agreed upon at our retreat in Tulum, Mexico last year: Autonomy, radical inclusivity, reproductive justice, collaborative entrepreneurship, and intentional growth.