MomniBrunch: A Reflection on Progressive Black Maternal Health Political Strategies in Flint

Sep 21, 2021 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Kerene Tayloe, JD 

I am incredibly proud of the work and commitment of Black Millennials for Flint. At the height of the Flint Water Crisis, so many national organizations outside of Michigan came to the area with promises and committed support. Some years later, I do not hear much about the Flint Water Crisis with the exception of my engagement with Black Millennials 4 Flint. The first inaugural MomniBrunch was a creative event that fostered an important discussion on the challenges that Black mothers face throughout the process of having a baby. Black women do not receive the same level of care and support when having a baby. As a result there are too many cases where Black mothers are not listened to by medical professionals, which unfortunately leads to high rates of maternal death and infant mortality. It is critical that legislation at all levels be introduced and passed in order to protect the welfare of Black mothers and their children. 

The conversations and information shared really opened my eyes to the barriers that exist for equitable healthcare. I was very impressed to hear from the panel of women who had varying experiences as midwives, doulas, and even legislators who focus on improving the resources for Black mothers. I was so blown away by the bravery and tenacity of Tennessee State Representative London Lamar. She was candid about her personal experience losing a child and how that influenced her advocacy. She articulated the importance of developing an effective strategy for political outreach in a red state dominated by conservative ideology. As the youngest member and the only woman of child bearing age, she has a unique perspective that she has been able to leverage in her work to pass legislation to increase recognition of doulas in TN. She shared how she convinced many of her legislator colleagues to see value in supporting the resolution to recognize doulas. The thoughtful strategy she used to succeed in her goal is one that should be taught and duplicated throughout the country to pass similar legislation, particularly in states that are dominated by conservative, pro-life legislators. She is definitely a young politician with a great future in sight. I was inspired by her story and compelled to support her with a campaign contribution. 

As a result there are too many cases where Black mothers are not listened to by medical professionals, which unfortunately leads to high rates of maternal death and infant mortality. It is critical that legislation at all levels be introduced and passed in order to protect the welfare of Black mothers and their children. 

MomniBrunch panelists and attendees outside Revive Community Health Center in Flint, MI

The doula and midwife panel was also very informative. I didn’t know there was a difference between the two specialties and learned a great deal. As a Black woman who is still very much interested in having a child, the insight the panelists provided is something I hope to incorporate in my birth plan if I should have a child.  All of the in-person attendees received gift bags that included affirmation cards from Memphis-based Therapist Pametria Brown that I will make sure to use to create positive thoughts to guide my day. We were asked to partner with the attendees at our table to share which affirmation card connected with us and it was really cool to connect with the young ladies at my table in a more personal way. 

Hey Girl Hey Affirmation Cards by Pametria Dominise, The Empowerment Expert

The conversations and information shared really opened my eyes to the barriers that exist for equitable healthcare.

After the brunch, I was able to go see the Flint River and really see how it is still negatively impacted by the decades of pollution from the GM Plant. I appreciated the brief tour I received from BM4F volunteer Dionna Brown , a recent graduate of Howard University. She expressed the distrust that many Flint Residents feel due to years of mismanagement of the Flint River. All in all, the entire weekend of service provided a really great opportunity to observe and learn. I am really proud to have been included and look forward to supporting future Black Millennials 4 Flint events. 

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