The Bossy Bees

Why We Need Equity Before Birth

June 28, 2021 Joy Spencer Season 2 Episode 3
The Bossy Bees
Why We Need Equity Before Birth
Chapters
The Bossy Bees
Why We Need Equity Before Birth
Jun 28, 2021 Season 2 Episode 3
Joy Spencer
It is an honor to have Joy Spencer join us for this podcast episode. She is fresh off the stage from a Testimony before Congress and inspiring us at every turn. Joy is the Executive Director at Equity Before Birth. A non-profit dedicated to saving the lives of Black birthing people and their infants. They strive to improve health outcomes through access to critical services and support. 

Joy is a fierce advocate for marginalized people. She relies on her background, lived experience, and parental guidance. You can find her in community meetings and on the floor of congress advocating for others.  In today’s episode, we are looking at the state of maternal/infant healthcare and childcare as an essential service to Americans. Joy is helping us understand the disparities experienced by black birthing people. The data also points to dangerous and fatal outcomes for babies before they even arrive! The trends continue into early childhood. This is a life-and-death situation for many citizens. Our work and understanding are critical as part of building better infrastructure.

  • Leveraging lived experience to inform better policy and recommendations to achieve better outcomes in advocacy work.
  • How the pandemic shed a light on the disparities for marginalized communities in maternal and infant healthcare - especially for black birthing peoples.
  • The current state and ranking of maternal and infant health and childcare in the United States.
  • Review the statistics and data that show inequality and its dangerous outcomes in the everyday lives of birthing people, mothers, infants, and children. 
  • How do maternal, infant, and child healthcare and childcare impact our communities and workplaces?
    • The importance of stable and robust national childcare infrastructure.
  • The various methods and tools you can use to advocate for yourself (and marginalized birthing persons in general) when you know you are an at-risk population.
  • Ways you, as an ally and advocate, can better support and show up for black mothers and birthing peoples in your community and workplaces. 

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/thebossybees)

Show Notes Transcript
It is an honor to have Joy Spencer join us for this podcast episode. She is fresh off the stage from a Testimony before Congress and inspiring us at every turn. Joy is the Executive Director at Equity Before Birth. A non-profit dedicated to saving the lives of Black birthing people and their infants. They strive to improve health outcomes through access to critical services and support. 

Joy is a fierce advocate for marginalized people. She relies on her background, lived experience, and parental guidance. You can find her in community meetings and on the floor of congress advocating for others.  In today’s episode, we are looking at the state of maternal/infant healthcare and childcare as an essential service to Americans. Joy is helping us understand the disparities experienced by black birthing people. The data also points to dangerous and fatal outcomes for babies before they even arrive! The trends continue into early childhood. This is a life-and-death situation for many citizens. Our work and understanding are critical as part of building better infrastructure.

  • Leveraging lived experience to inform better policy and recommendations to achieve better outcomes in advocacy work.
  • How the pandemic shed a light on the disparities for marginalized communities in maternal and infant healthcare - especially for black birthing peoples.
  • The current state and ranking of maternal and infant health and childcare in the United States.
  • Review the statistics and data that show inequality and its dangerous outcomes in the everyday lives of birthing people, mothers, infants, and children. 
  • How do maternal, infant, and child healthcare and childcare impact our communities and workplaces?
    • The importance of stable and robust national childcare infrastructure.
  • The various methods and tools you can use to advocate for yourself (and marginalized birthing persons in general) when you know you are an at-risk population.
  • Ways you, as an ally and advocate, can better support and show up for black mothers and birthing peoples in your community and workplaces. 

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/thebossybees)

Stacy Whitenight:

Thank you for joining me for another VA CBS podcast. Before we get started, remember, you can catch an extended video version of this podcast and other exclusive content on Patreon. You can find a link to support our podcast right on our websites menu. Or you can go directly to patreon.com. forward slash the bossy BS. When you become a bossy bs Patreon, you not only get a huge dose of gratitude, but access to exclusive content, available only to our Patreon. I am really excited to welcome our special guest today. Joyce Spencer, fresh off her testimony before Congress, the Executive Director for equity before birth opens up on her personal experiences to talk about her advocacy work for mothers and children. Well, tell me a little bit. You know, I worked with you on the commission board. But tell me a little bit more about how you came to be on that board and what you're doing and, and sort of the work that makes joy Spencer joy?

Joy Spencer:

Oh, wow, like I love that question. That's a huge question. I would say that I was born into advocacy work. My mom started a nonprofit over 30 years ago, to advocate for our needs, our children's needs. And that grew into the movement that we now know as lived experience and nothing about us without us and having family involvement in their own care and in the care of their kids. And so I was really born into this And I've just had a lot of life experiences, poverty, homelessness, I've been a part of many, many, many systems. And so I've always just used that lived experience to fuel my passion and my advocacy. So just just have Dan, where I could and where I had suggestions and so I love Durham for the reason of there being lots of opportunity to advocate get involved, volunteer at nonprofits volunteer with efforts that support children and families. So yeah, I've been in children and family advocacy world since forever. But it really hit home when I started experiencing my own challenges with growing my family, trying to receive support, trying to receive services, and having baby girl and things, things like that.

Stacy Whitenight:

I can definitely speak from when you have the lived experience, it can it completely opens up a different perspective and world and, and, okay, this isn't gonna work, you know, having just to share a little bit of my own, like, messed up lived experience. And, you know, I used to be just like really gung ho pro life until my first child and I had a pretty scary pregnancy. And I realized very quickly, I was like, What am I thinking, like to have a perspective that limits who limits my life and can construct my life and based on the decisions of people sitting, basically, based on the decisions of white men sitting in an office hundreds of miles away, I was like, what I was really young, and I was like, like thinking that this is really harmful and that was a catalyst for me to just to wake up and, and stop living in a stop supporting and living in a system that did not support me. So I can attest to you know how eye opening it is to have the lived experience but I love that. It's part of your it's part of like your heritage, like it's your mom is like pass the mantle down to you. And, and now you work for equity before birth. You're the executive director there and you started last year. Tell me a little bit about that. And like your passion for achieving equity in the work that you've done in your experience. How does that come together at equity before birth?

Joy Spencer:

Yeah, I say is pretty serendipitous. I have always champion equity and Culturally affirming programs behavior, putting, you know families in in babies and children in the forefront. And so long story short, I was an essential worker for local government when the pandemic hit, I had a one and a half year old at the time and daycares closed and work didn't. And I have really no local strong support system, my family lives out of state things of that nature. So I wrote my resignation letter. I didn't know my plan B but All I knew is that you can't leave almost to your own home by their by themselves. We couldn't be here. Every single day training doesn't work for two year olds. Yes, oh, that's not gonna work out. And I'll just was like, Oh my goodness, I didn't want to go back into I've experienced a lot of things that I didn't want to go back to not being able to pay bills now. Not knowing you know, if the lights will stay on all this and that. And anyways, I still was volunteering and community meetings. And around the same time, me and James it. They were they had an infant it was pandemic, they're trying to find the resources to keep them afloat. But they had each other they had great jobs, they had safe housing, and it was still a struggle for them to get through the pandemic with their kids. And they started uncovering all the disparity data and all the, you know, pandemic, just shine a light on all the discrimination and disparities and all that. And I said, Wait a minute, like, this is hard for us. How is this for black women letting it swim in Native American women? And what can we do about it, and in uncovering all the maternal health disparities, they saw that black women fared way worse, and decided to found a charity organization to help offset some of that, to help black women get increased access to quality care and improve their birth outcome. So long story short, I started plugging into all these community meetings, like what's going on, who is helping families who's working with infants who is in charge of maternal health care, and they start crossing paths and a lot of community meetings, because advocating for black moms and babies, just something I do all day, every day for free in my sleep anyways. And we start crossing paths. And they started saying, you know how advocacy works. And we got, some things changed, and some policies overturned, and some, you know, opportunities were swaying in the way of the community. And she said, Look, I know, I need women to lead this organization. And I think that you to get started. And so to serendipitously, like, I got a job offer, that is my dream job, that fell into my lap at a time where I really, really, really needed a job and had no idea how I was gonna make that happen. So here we are, right.

Stacy Whitenight:

That I mean, that is that is serendipitous. And, um, you know, I, I didn't know about it until I was working with you on the commission board. And the second that I did, I was like, Oh, my gosh, this is exactly what's needed. And it was funny, because I was doing a podcast on childcare. The week that you did, you presented equity before birth to the commission board, and I was like, Oh, my gosh, this is exactly what I'm talking about this week. You know, just the disparity that's been, you know, blown open, you know, for everybody to see. I've always, you know, like I said, once I had that experience. When I, during my first pregnancy, I started reading and researching and trying to understand better like, well, what's going on in the United States with childbirth, and, you know, and mothers and families, and childcare and looking overseas, you're like, what, like, we're supposed to be a developed country here, like, developed country, we have one of the highest maternity death rates, our childcare is a disaster. You know, and, and, you know, the inequality here before a child is even born, is, I mean, it's eye opening, and the data does not lie, that just doesn't the data does not lie, we need more clarity on the data. But just even when you scratch the surface, it's there and there's no denying it, and the pandemic, just really, really made it you know, it's now like festering festering little blister on on the United States. And it's going to, you know, as the, you know, as most conservatives, it's going to trickle down into the economy. It's going to have a tremendous impact. So, um, I was, you know, you're far more well versed than this than I am, but, you know, people are saying might be sitting here saying, well, you Like, inequality before birth, can you tell me a little bit about like, what kind of inequalities do we see before a child is even born?

Joy Spencer:

Yeah. So, you know, that's what I was thinking to. We're talking a lot about the state of maternal health in the United States. But like, what does that mean? What does that look like for people who may not be fully aware? So, the United States of America has the largest health care budget in the world, we have more money cycling through our health care system than any other country. But as you mentioned, out of the 35, developed an interest in digital as countries we we weigh in between 33 and 34, and rank, as far as maternal and infant health outcomes. worldwide. moms and babies are dying less, and that has continued to decrease since the 1900s. For the United States of America, our maternal infant deaths have more than doubled since 1987. So we have a huge problem. Black women are three to four times more likely to die during childbirth related complications. However, 60% or more of those deaths are preventable. So this is an issue that we can totally resolve. Likewise, with infant deaths, black infants are twice more likely to die before celebrating their first birthday, then why infants, again, a lot of these things are completely preventable. premature labor and delivery is the number one cause of infant death in North Carolina has the 15th highest preterm labor rate. And so we are really, really affected by increased stress, lack of quality care, and all the things that may contribute to a preterm birth. So we are not in a good situation, those statistics are across the board across every socio economic level, they affect Beyonce, and Serena as the same in the same ways that they would affect me. When we control for education and income and things like that, we see things like low income black women dying at 12 times the rate of their white counterparts. With GED or high school diploma, we see things like black women with bachelor degrees, dying at five times the rate of their counterparts. And so the disparities actually get worse when you start to control for some of the things that people think are the main factor. The main factor is not race it is in fact, racism. And so you said What does inequality before birth looks like? It looks like some of the things that we're talking, you can't find adequate health care? You can't you have you don't have health insurance. You don't have maybe you're in a maternity care desert, where maybe it takes you 45 minutes to an hour to get to your appointment. Well, what does that look like? We may not have reliable transportation? What does it look like when you are with providers? And you're telling them your body feels a certain way? They're like, Oh, no, you're fine. If you were really, if that was really black, pain, you know, you wouldn't be talking to me as calmly as you are right now. Or, you know, these are? Well, you know, maybe if you lost a little weight, you wouldn't have these complications, you know, you pray. So those are things that we hear all the time, and they start, like you said before birth, and so if we can't get access to the to quality care, and we've had providers, and we've had midwives tell us, when I sent, you know, same warning signs saying maybe we could pregnancy, everything, when I send my white clients to the doctor, they are attended to I send my black families to the doctor, and nine times out of 10, they get sent home and told Oh, no, you're fine. And so that's the level of inequality that we see in the healthcare system that happens before a baby is even born. And it really hurts us when we don't receive quality, comprehensive prenatal care.

Stacy Whitenight:

You said a couple of things. I mean, there's one thing in there that's just so triggering for me. You know, when I was told that Logan was going to be born with one hand, and, you know, I was, you know, it was summertime for me, and as my husband jokes like, I have my summer skin on being Latina. And the first question the woman asked me was, what do you smoke crack? Like, she just assumed? Yeah. And, and I was my husband, who was sitting in the corner, and I don't think she saw him was like, Oh my God. What is that? And I was like, that is racism. That was a racist question. And you know, and it's so you know, the other thing that You're talking about you mentioned, you know, the United States, you know, being an industrialized country. And we're sitting here talking about black moms. And the United States wouldn't even be an industrial country, industrialized country, if it were not for black women, forced, like and forcing them to have children, enslaved women to have children. So the United States wouldn't even exist without black women.

Joy Spencer:

Yeah, let's share something about that as reading a book about this is such a weird dynamic there are saying and slavery where black women was the most precious commodity and most hated commodity at the same time. Because without our ability to reproduce, the entire you know, organization would would crumble. However, we were chattel, we were not human, we were property. So there was this really weird like, without me, your baby can't eat without me, you won't have your workforce staff, you know, without me, all of these kids would not be nurtured or reared in any in any sort of way, right. But they used to do things like dig holes in the ground. and pregnant women would have to lay down on their stomach, put their belly in the hole, because they could not harm the the baby, but they would, that's how they would beat pregnant women. It was just such this, I have to protect you, because you're giving me live, but you're my property, punish you, it's wild. And then the other thing was that we were so wedded to our kids in the opportunity to just at least put an eye on our kids, that there are ledgers from entire states in the south, we're not one woman ever attempted and escaped for slavery, we would choose one for a slave and, and the there's like four accounts where women did attempt to run and two accounts where they did not have children or left their kid. And those are the accounts we hear about the most we hear about her, you told me and we hear about another any that abandoned her kid and that's abnormal, but just the lengths that people will go to demonize black women, and look at these black women who have left and left their kids, you know, I just wanted to share that because that history is very real very much today. Our health care very much affects the feelings but women have towards health care, and breastfeeding. Especially when ascetics and gynecology was born. They started making, this is how you treat pregnant women. This is how you don't and they are eradicated our birth workers and our midwives and our ability to care for ourselves and have our own birth. So yeah, yes, is deep the history definitely. Highlights where we are where we are today.

Stacy Whitenight:

Yeah, I mean, there's just so many, the show, you know, people don't, a lot of people don't realize how dynamic and diverse and just complex the lives of black women are. And it's really unfortunate, you know, no to live, you know, it's not monolithic. You know, I always tell people, it's not a monolithic experience. But, you know, you have to look at its complexities, you know, like, you know, and fathers to which this is this podcast, not about the father's like, that is just really complex, too. And, and the dynamic there. And, you know, people, you know, you were talking about, like the pain threshold. And my husband was remarking on that in the car the other day, we were listening to Britney Cooper's eloquent weight rage, we've been listening to it together. She's a black feminist, and he just gets so worked up, he's like, how could you possibly think that a human being is not suffering? You know, at the same level, you know, and that, and, again, the evidence is there, the data is there to show that if you are not, if you are not aware of your bias and making conscious decisions as a doctor, to say, Oh, this is how, you know, my bias has trained me to think I need to be acutely aware that I've walked into this room and I have this pre conditioned bias that I'm going to think that this black woman has a higher threshold of pain. And that's okay. Right. When we say we have this bias and I can overcome it, you just, if you deny it, you can never overcome it. And, and yeah, first step is you have to acknowledge it, but I wanted to talk a little bit also, we've talked about childcare. And and we have a bit of an understanding right now, you know, before birth, how the how these inequities impact families and women and babies in our black communities. And I also want to say, you know, just reading some statistics and data leading up to this, the other group that has pretty abysmal outcomes are Native American women. And and Latina women kind of right in behind that, and certainly white women have better outcomes. And I want to touch on that in a minute. But I want to understand how do these inequities and systems continue to impact the life of children after they're born? So, you know, you talked about paid leave and affordable health care? You know, what is that doing? What is that doing to us, in our communities in our workplace? What are what are we seeing there?

Joy Spencer:

Yeah. Currently, there's a series of legislation out to increase funding for infrastructure for things like childcare. That is going to be so so so important, because as you said, soon as babies are born, babies of color are, are at a disadvantage, unfortunately. What What does this look like? How does this manifesting, we have our workers of color who are overly represented in hourly wage jobs with no paid leave. So one in four American miles return to work within two weeks of giving birth. And that is heavily our mothers of color because they don't have pay Lee, they cannot afford to take a long, longer period out of work with no pay. What What does this do, it reduces time that you can bond with your baby, your baby didn't even have basic motor functions like controlling their miles and their eye movements in their head, right. And so you're able to bond with baby and help them through those critical milestones your body has not healed in 10 in two weeks, especially after a C section, regardless of see sex and vaginal birth, or pretty much whatever your body has held. And in two weeks, your hormones have not leveled out in two weeks, your baby's hormones have not leveled out in two weeks. And so it's harder to initiate breastfeeding. If you're not able to be home with the first several rings teaching your baby like what is the nipple? How is your food, you know, you're not getting your food through the umbilical cord anymore, that sort of thing. So as a huge disadvantage kids learn, you know, how to trust in that period, what attachment looks like what love feels like? safety thing? Yep. Yep, yep. And so we are, in addition to losing that crucial time that other countries have recognized is so crucial, and they're given 12 weeks in a year off with pay leave, in addition to missing those crucial development times. Not having the answer infrastructure can make our mental health suffer too, because we're like, oh, my goodness, I have to go to work. Now, I have not found, you know, quality childcare yet. I have not, I don't feel well enough to go back to work when our mental health suffers as parents, our babies feel that, you know, and and their mental health can can suffer. We also see that when moms do not feel supported, they kind of internalize that as their own personal failure. And so when you're asking, like, how does that affect the society as a large when I'm feeling down, I'm not cheating everyone else, my best, right? And so it has a ripple effect when we help folks win support folks to be happy and healthy and have smooth transitions into Parenthood. They in return can be happy, healthy, you know, members of our society and it's such a ripple effect. I have a I know I'm talking a lot but I have a no that's the point. A mom needed to go somewhere did not have a partner transportation had to ride the bus but had not yet been able to buy a stroller and carseat for the baby. So she has this newborn. And she is Darren's bus system is not great. And sometimes you have to walk them out to the destination after you get off the bus. And so it's one of these situations that she's carrying this newborn and like, her arms are like tired, she's exhausted. babies get really heavy really quickly and someone says hey, you want me to help carry the baby? And she snapped. She's like, No, you can't carry my baby. I've been carrying this baby for nine months. I'm carrying this baby to the store. We're good. You know what I mean? And really what that was, she told me later she said, You know, I was so embarrassed that I'm sitting here walking down the street with a newborn, and don't even have a stroller or car seat and put this baby and everybody knows if you have a baby shower stroller, right? And so because of her feeling that feeling embarrassed, it translated out as annoyance right? Now let's reverse let's say she found equity before birth, and we gave her some support. And she got the stroller of her dreams. And now her baby are walking down the street happy babies cool, you know how to shade over them. And that person says, Oh, hey, you have a cute baby, you want me to help push? Oh, sure. You know, let's we're just going right here up the sheet to start like, it literally has a ripple effect, when we are taking care of them. When we feel supported, it literally causes us to have healthier, happier communities, the person that she snapped on it might have ruined their day, and they might have went on to snap on another person, and then that person. So we completely have to take care of ourselves, we have to give everyone equitable and equal chances to succeed at the beginning of life, because it affects us we have to go to grocery store with the same people that we don't support we have our kids are going to school with the same people who may need just extra village to help them reach their goals and thrive. And so I just think it's really, really, really important that we all play our part in having a healthy community.

Stacy Whitenight:

It's so true, you know, I to give a little bit of background, I, when I had my first child, I did not have health care, I did not have time off, I didn't have paid leave. And, you know, I tried to go back to work. You know, because I didn't have any of those things. I tried to go back to work. Like, the third week after having my kids I was working from home and I couldn't, I couldn't cut it. And the postpartum the depression, you know, like I had, like anxiety through the roof. You know, and it affected my whole family affected my family beyond that, like, you know, to the point where people were not only, like they were concerned for like me, but also like the safety of the baby. And I don't know what it is, you know, like, there's the stigma of taking, you know, seeking out help. There's certainly, you know, and I would not do it, I didn't want to do it. Because I was embarrassed. I was like, I'm the mother, I have to figure this out. And, you know, I didn't, you know, I didn't have the support around me. And it wasn't until a sister in law stepped in. It wasn't until other court to be quite honest, until other women who had similar lived experiences stepped in and said, You are an adult. And part of this is you have to ask for help. And you have to like take a step back and like, try to see, look out thought like stand outside of yourself for a moment and see, you know what's going on, like, just for even a second because you just need that split second, to ask for help. And it can change a lot of things. But if you are not supported, and you don't have like equity before birth, or other women or other people around you to support this. I mean, I didn't go back to work for weeks after that. You know, I was so fortunate that I had some support around me, you know, husband to support financially. Not everyone has that. And so, again, another lived experience that was eye opening, and I was like, this doesn't work. This doesn't work in the United States, no one should have to, like, make a life or death decision about going back to work. And that's what it is. It's a life and death decision.

Joy Spencer:

Yeah, absolutely. I'm into it. And to be clear, this is not a low income problem. This is not, you know, a low income black women blowing it like that. That's not the correlation or education. Yeah, this is hard for everyone. pregnancy is hard. You know, for me, I know we make it look beautiful. And we have awesome maternity photo shoots and things of that nature. But these disparities affect everyone you can have a husband and a great house and great job. And having a baby is still expensive, especially if you want extra layers of support, like a doula and a lactose lactation consultant. You want a nutritionist to make sure that you're still eating right. He wants somebody to help you with your pelvic health exercise to prepare you for labor, and then help you heal for labor. I don't care where you work that adds up really, really quickly. And that is expensive. But it is that level of care. That quality care team that we see really makes a difference in birth outcomes. And so that's what equity before birth is committed to doing. So wrapping those most impacted which will be black birthing people around the support they need to get any perinatal health support service. So that we can make sure they have the best chance to have an optimal experience and birth outcome.

Stacy Whitenight:

Um, another sort of thing, you know, it's funny, my sister's here, she's due in a month, and I am aware of these disparities, you know, and she's far more white passing than I am. So I'm, I'm like, you know, it may not impact you, but it's still there are these inequities? Like, it's not good enough for white women, either. It's not good enough, or healthcare is just not good enough. And, and the gap between where we should be and white women is not good. But then the gap between black women and where we should be is, is abysmal. It's even worse, and and certainly Native American women as well. So, you know, and I'm thinking to her, you know, I'm thinking out loud, but, um, you know, how can we, how can marginalized women in general, advocate for ourselves, when we know we're an at risk population.

Joy Spencer:

I always encourage the buddy system. That's why I'm really a big advocate of doulas. If it's at all possible, I would get someone to call someone on speakerphone, get someone to come with you. If at all possible, if you if you can't find anyone for that start reaching out to like equity before birth. And my man, some of these organizations out here they exist for you. The buddy system is one thing that I would highly encourage, especially for the birthing person, you have a lot that's going on with your body that you're dealing with, you need your personal advocate with you as much as possible, whenever you can, so that we can support you and speak up, we know what your birth plan is, we know what your optimal plans would be. And you have a witness, right? No, no, no, she told you last time, she did not want an epidural. Or she told you last time, we're not gonna do the glucose test this time. Because you know, whatever, you know, you just need that sometimes that reinforcement that backup. But in general, educate, educate, educate yourself, find support groups, other spaces where we are uplifting one another, sharing our birth stories, and education, don't let it lead into fear mongering, we have been delivering babies since the beginning of time we've got this we can do this. It's just a matter of advocating for our needs, educating ourselves, figuring out what is medically necessary and what is not done and do something because you're going to vacation look next week, like, let's, let's really, let's really sift through these things and talk about what is going on with my body what's going on with the baby, don't talk over my head, make your doctor slow down, make them break acronyms down, break words down, take your time you're paying for the services, ask all the questions that you need. Do what makes you feel safe, even if people seem annoyed by it, do it. This is your life, your baby's life, we're not going to take these chances. So that's that's the encouragement I'll get get get a buddy and, and at least have your plan written down so that you can stick to it to a tee.

Stacy Whitenight:

I would also say I'm documenting, you know, we had we lost a one month old. He was he was only 32 he wasn't even 30 days old. We lost him in our family last year. And you know, sort of the same thing where, you know, I, you know, the mom called me, you know, days before she had the baby talking about something wasn't right. She just had a feeling, you know, and she's half Asian. And she was just like, something's not right, something's not right. She kept going into the doctor to say, I feel that something is not right. And she had a heart condition herself. And none of it was documented. And the documentation after even after the child was born, was extremely inaccurate. You could see clearly where things had like been fabricated and covered up. And so I would say as well, like the buddy system is really important to have witness but also documenting document everything that you do because I mean, that to me, I'm like the system doesn't work in favor of anybody. And you know, is what the intentions are great in healthcare. You know, our doctors and nurses do mean well, but they work organizations that are looking out for themselves too. So that was a really scary and horrifying and absolutely the worst outcome that could have ever happened. But But yeah, so I would say that to documenting have a buddy system that's really that smart. Before you know we, before we head out i do want, you know, we need equity and better outcomes. And for some of us, you know, everyone shakes their head yes to this and you know, especially white feminists in particular, they get a little derailed here because they say, Yes, we need better outcomes. But black and brown women, y'all are in the back. So get in line. And, and that's not how it works. I'm a firm believer that the tide when the tide comes in, it should raise all the ships, you know, let's make sure that every one ship is in shape, so that we all rise together. So I want to cover really quick, how can we better advocate for our black and brown sisters and motherhood? Because we need to know how to show us better allies and how to support expecting moms, how to support our single moms, how to support our moms in the workplace. And, you know, also in local legislation, what can we do?

Joy Spencer:

Yeah, so I think the first thing is making sure we recognize that we're all interconnected, and part of a collective. So if one of our sisters or brothers are struggling, it affects us all. And the more we realize that, I think the more we will be prone to play our part to to make the world a better place. When you see something, say something silences violence, when you see something, please say something, it's not always it shouldn't always be the burden of the black person or person of color to fight that battle. When you see something, say something, sometimes being a great ally is inserting your privilege in that moment, knowing that we're not going to get the same response maybe that someone else would get. And that's really support, supportive, sometimes we're exhausted, we don't have the energy to even stand up for ourselves. And so that's when community can really come in education and awareness, tune in to the conversation, figure out what's really going on just because it's something maybe that you haven't experienced, maybe even as a black person, birth in person, you have an experience, you've had excellent access and excellent care. And that's great. But let's again, think about the collective. And it's all of us, or none of us, if all of us cannot get access to this quality care, and our health outcomes are going to be less because of that that's going to affect us too. We want to be in society with healthy and happy folks so that we can continue to be healthy and happy. support organizations like equity before birth. We are improving birth outcomes by promoting financial security. So when you come up with your birth plan, and your idea of your ideal experience, if any of the things you'd want to get done, you can't do because of costs, we want to cover the cost of those services, we want to pay for the doula for you, the lactation consultant for you pay your copay to see a specialist or whatever that looks like. So I would encourage folks to support organizations like equity before birth, either by donation by spreading the word on social media or by volunteer ism. Mei Mei mobilizing African American mothers through empowerment. So another example of a grassroots organization that whatever resources we get, go straight into the hands of black birthing people deliberately to increase their support systems and improve their birth outcomes. Educate when you educate yourself, educate those around you, especially those who do not believe that we deserve the same dignity as everyone else, because of whatever reason, or they should have worked harder. They should have went to school more whatever reason, we know those factors are arbitrary and are not what will save our lives. Right. So have those they are conversations with people that trust you and you have trust with is not again, the burden of us to have have those very hard conversations. It's really exhausting to try to make myself seem like a human in front of someone, someone else. And so when I say move from from an ally into an accomplished I'm kind of sometimes what that means is putting yourself in harm's way, like having that conversation with someone who's kind of hostile, so that you can, you know, reduce the hostility that they give to other black and people of color in our society.

Stacy Whitenight:

Yeah, I you know, I have certainly taken some bystander training myself, and I will include links to that in here too. Sometimes people just don't know how or don't know, when you know, they don't really know how to just show up and that space and just, you know, diffusing that violence, there's lots of different ways it doesn't always have to escalate. So I'm going to include some links on different, you know, people who are professionals, and that kind of training, I am not. So I will include those type of links in there. And then I also really, I want to add onto here, because yesterday, I thought half again, that, you know, if you're listening to this, that we need to believe black people, and brown people when they say they have lived an experience, we need to believe them, you know, to sit there, you know, we're facing, you know, in the United States, a really big divide and discussion over critical race theory. And yesterday, I saw, you know, a general get up and testify, I believe in front of Congress. And everyone's nodding their head. Oh, yes, yes, yes. And I'm like, you know, what, it's great that he got up there and spoke so eloquently eloquently about this from the perspective of his job, and why it's important to understand critical race theory. And as a white man, why does and that's the job of an ally, to get up there and speak about it. But we should not get to that point where we believe black people having an experience that that has to be coming from a white man's mouth. So to be doing this, I want to, yes, these are valid experiences, there's data to back it up, we need to just, you need to stop and sit and listen really closely and believe black people. So that, to me, is where we start.

Joy Spencer:

Yeah, that's Paramount, like trusting, trusting Community Trust, and black folks. And the other thing I would add is, if you have resources or access to resources, I think one of the best things you can do is leverage those resources into the communities that are impacted. And let us be the leaders of our own solution. A lot of times we have the leadership skills we have the ideas we have the plans, just don't have the resources to carry them out. And that's just because of our racist and capitalist history, those resources do not trickle down. And so and then sometimes, you know, this gets tricky, instead of inserting yourself to be the forefront of the, you know, message delivering, oh, I have this great event that I'm going to put on for you. Sometimes it's like instead of spending $1,000 for that event, could you donate that $1,000 to an organization that are already doing events already doing the outreach and just like help us form these comprehensive ecosystems where we can accurately and adequately wrap families around support. So yeah, that's the last thing I'll add is, is leverage your resources. Sometimes the harm and trauma that has existed in black and brown communities means that brought black and brown people need to go into those communities, to not trigger folks is and start to repair that harm. And sometimes All we need is the resources to get that done.

Stacy Whitenight:

Yes, I wholly support that. And we, your organizations and science ever across the board that you need to be make a conscious decision and take a look at am I really doing the right thing. I need to take a step back and let someone else that is experienced, and and comfortable in this space, take the lead and and white people just need to take a step back and say, I'm, I'm right behind you supporting you. thank you so much joy. I this was a really great discussion. And as always, I always just show like charged up after talking to you, you were an expert in this area and passionate about it. And it always reminds me just how important is is it's not always at the forefront of discussions but it's present every single day. Even if you don't see a pregnant woman walking across my sister sitting over there. You're not staring at a pregnant woman, that these issues really do these these outcomes impact us in every way shape and form from the food that you eat, to you know, going into your job every every aspect of our economy that this is present. So thank you for coming on here today to talk about it.

Joy Spencer:

Thank you Stacy for that opportunity and for shine and light on this super important like life or death matters and we really appreciate it. Thank you so

Stacy Whitenight:

much. Hey by CBS This is your host Stacy Whitenight I'm honored that you've decided to spend some time here today. Do me a favor. I would be delighted if you left a review and over the moon. If you became a Patreon Don't be shy. Head over to the bossy bees calm to drop a personal note. Find more podcast episodes and read the blog.