Himalaya: Listen. Learn. Grow.
The Harper’s Podcast
In February, Naomi Jackson entered Mount Sinai Hospital to give birth to her son. But when the baby finally came, at her side were only her doula and her sister; the ob-gyn hadn’t believed Jackson when, twenty minutes earlier, she had assured the doctor that the baby was coming soon. This was not the first time that Jackson’s wishes and intuitions had been ignored during her pregnancy, or even during her labor. Only hours earlier, a nurse had upped her dosage of Pitocin shortly after Jackson had asked her to stop. But Jackson is not alone in experiencing such dismissiveness. Such treatment is typical of the care black mothers receive. They experience maternal complications and adverse outcomes at a shockingly high rate. Black babies today are substantially more likely to suffer infant mortality than white babies; the rate surpasses that recorded during slavery. And the dearth of black female medical professionals means that black women struggle to secure culturally responsive care, with its accompanying better outcomes. Black mothers—Jackson included—carry this heavy burden with them into labor. In this episode of the podcast, Naomi Jackson—an assistant professor of English at Rutgers University–Newark and the author of The Star Side of Bird Hill—reflects on her narrative essay in Harper’s Magazine’s September issue, “A Litany for Survival.” Jackson and host Violet Lucca discuss her reasons for sharing her birth story, the all too often dire experiences that black women have in the birthing room, and the multifarious sociocultural factors that prevent black women from receiving proper care even as awareness of these experiences grows. Resources for black mothers that were mentioned in the episode or are recommended by Jackson: Bronx Rebirth & Progress Collective - https://www.bxrebirth.org/ Black Mamas Matter Alliance - https://blackmamasmatter.org/ National Black Midwives Alliance - https://blackmidwivesalliance.org/ Jamaa Birth Village - https://jamaabirthvillage.org/ Ancient Song Doula Services - https://www.ancientsongdoulaservices.com/ Dr. Sara Whetstone, University of California, San Francisco - https://meded.ucsf.edu/people/sara-whetstone Dr. Deirdre Cooper-Owens, University of Lincoln, Nebraska & author of Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and The Origins of American Gynecology - https://history.unl.edu/deirdre-cooper-owens Nubia Martin, midwife & founder of Birth from the Earth - https://birthfromtheearth.vpweb.com/ Nicole Jean-Baptiste, Sese Doula Services - https://www.sesedoulaservices.com/ Linda Villarosa, journalist & contributing writer to New York Times magazine https://www.lindavillarosa.com/ Dr. Dana-Ain Davis, CUNY Graduate Center and author of Reproductive Justice: Racism, Pregnancy & Premature Birth - http://qcurban.org/faculty/dana-ain-davis/ Dr. Pooja K. Mehta, Women’s Health Lead, CityBlock Health - https://www.linkedin.com/in/pooja-mehta-1b891689/ Dr. Toyin Ajayi, Chief Health Officer & Co-Founder, CityBlock Health - https://www.linkedin.com/in/toyin-ajayi-ba57b078/ Chanel Porchia-Albert, founder of Ancient Song - https://www.chanelporchianyc.com/about-me Malaika Maitland, doula, artist & yoga teacher in Grenada - http://malaikamaitland.com/birth Andrea Jordan, midwife, cofounder of Better Birthing in Bim and The Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition Foundation - https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrea-jordan-4832b3127/ Dani McClain, journalist and author of We Live for the: The Political Power of Black Motherhood - https://danimcclain.com/bio Dr. Lynn Roberts, CUNY School of Public Health - https://sph.cuny.edu/people/lynnroberts/ Dorothy Roberts, University of Pennsylvania, author of Killing the Black Body - https://www.law.upenn.edu/cf/faculty/roberts1/ Efe Osaren, doula & midwifery student, https://www.linkedin.com/in/efe-osaren-959824113/