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Truth is a Starting Point for Change

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Kimberly Seals Allers: I couldn't believe the responses that rolled in after my first post last week discussing how Black mothers are very often missing from the mainstream mommy conversation in this country. Some comments made me wonder if everyone actually read the entire story. Hmmm. Ironically, the same day my blog posted, I was actually in Washington, D.C. attending a symposium on Transforming Maternity Care hosted by a national non-profit called Childbirth Connection. There were more than 200 doctors, practitioners, childbirth educators, midwives, activists and other leaders convened to discuss how we can change maternity care and birth outcomes in this nation.

mom playing with her daughter

At the conference at Georgetown University, the thought leaders, decision makers and other key participants brought in to debate the future of maternity care (who were 99% white) unanimously and openly agreed that the mommy movement lacks diversity. Every participant who stepped up to the microphone to ask the group how we can include more African American and Latina women in the national face and voice of mother issues was met with resounding applause. Some attendees even criticized the organizers for not having enough professionals of color leading the sessions at the conference.

My point is that it is not divisive rhetoric to say that black mothers are not in the leadership of the mom movement. It is the truth. It is not a secret that black women have been stereotyped in the media. And it is not sparking a racial agenda to simply state what is so. Truth is the starting point for change. And I applaud all those at the Childbirth Connection symposium for acknowledging this void and speaking openly about what we can do about it. I would only ask all mothers and readers here to do the same.

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9 comments so far | Post a comment now
Rachel April 10, 2009, 7:19 AM

I’m curious…and this is a serious question. Do you think they purposely set out to not include minority presenters, doctors, etc., at this symposium? How did they choose these presenters? I would hope they’d choose the most qualified in their field - minority or otherwise. Including people based on their skin color? Isn’t that the very thing that MLK and other civil rights leaders were fighting for to begin with? Yet, we still see similar things happening with affirmative action, just in reverse.

Riley April 10, 2009, 9:26 AM

Do you really believe an entire conference is out to exclude blacks? Could it not be that there are more pressing things happening in the black community and that maybe black leaders don’t share your views on the importance of pointing out racism in the realm of motherhood? Stop playing the victim.

venessa April 10, 2009, 9:58 AM

I would think that maternal and neo-natal outcomes would be considered a “pressing issue” in the black community. And it hardly anti-equality to choose from among a pool of qualified leaders in the medical field a variety of speakers with different experiences and backgrounds. That is how we learn.

chris April 10, 2009, 11:05 AM

All I have to say about this is stop asking the white community why they are excluding blacks/latinos/asia women from being out there but start asking black/latino/asis women to start stepping it up more to be out there.

Cheryl April 10, 2009, 11:39 AM


Who is playing victim here? The writer did not suggest that it is a conspiracy that there is a lack of diversity, merely stated that there is a lack. She did not say “whoa is us, we are maligned”. Is it that hard to believe that there is a disparity that it is going to take a conscious effort to correct? When women were not treated as fairly in the workplace as they are now, it took a conscious effort to correct. No one is asking for special consideration, only inclusion. Jeez.

Monica Culp April 10, 2009, 3:22 PM

I think when people here on the blog “blame the victim” and dismiss another persons feelings or what they say they have some higher issue that they are dealing with themselves that they need to get over. They need to wake up as a human being.

lea April 10, 2009, 4:00 PM

to Monica how is the writer of this blog a “victim” she’s upset that professionals of diverse racial backgrounds didn’t show up to speak? Why not be mad at those people for not making effort to attend and speak on behalf of their own people?

A black woman April 11, 2009, 4:47 PM

Not enough professionals of color on hand? Take a look at the African-American college graduation rates at the census bureau’s website. The black community needs to step up to the plate, get educated, and quit complaining about how everyone is holding them back.

Monica Culp April 11, 2009, 9:39 PM

Lea, my comment is in general. Not about the writer. Riley is telling her to stop playing the victim. (Although that comment was irrelevant to the point the writer was trying to get to.) On the other blog people keep shouting stop playing the victim. I’ve heard it over and over. And I’m saying that who are you to tell someone to stop playing the victim. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes then you have the right voice your opinion on who’s the victim. We have no idea who it was that behind choosing the key participants in the conference. But obviously there were no professionals of color. She didn’t say that the professionals of color were invited and didn’t show up. The question would be when selecting the participants and speaker why weren’t any of color chosen?

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