Black Lives Matter, Black Mamas Matter
Over the past week, our team has come together to discuss how the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and the wave of protests against police violence sweeping through the country are impacting us on a personal level. These types of abuses of power and the systemic marginalization of Black people are an endemic problem in America. Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia stands in solidarity with our Black team members and all Black people and allies in affirming that Black Lives Matter.
Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia is a community – it is made up of our staff, board members, volunteers, members, program participants, collaborating partners, funders and every single family we serve on a daily basis.
To all of our community members who feel this issue at the core of your identity, to those of you who have known this pain in either yourself or the ones you love, and to everyone who needs support in order to deal with the painful and powerful structures affecting them daily, we want you to know that we support you. And part of that support is sustained action.
Now, more than ever, we need to show up in whatever ways we can to show support and love for our Black colleagues, friends and families – and for ourselves.
As a team, here is how we are working to dismantle white supremacy and uphold health equity as our highest value throughout our work:
- We continue to use and create dialogue around our experience in using the Project Implicit tools to address our personal biases, how they impact our work, and how to address them. We talk as a team and take turns coming up with group activities to further engage in this dialogue.
- When we talk about racial disparities in public health data, we speak intentionally. We call out structural racism, the role of implicit and explicit bias in healthcare (and other) systems, and we don’t use language that blames Black people for having higher rates of poor maternal or infant health outcomes. We know these outcomes exist because of racism.
- We take our mental health seriously. We have consistently been an organization dedicated to the self-care of our team members and a promoter of positive mental health. Every team member takes paid mental health breaks during each work week to focus on individual needs and to decompress.
- We are holding team check-ins to create a supportive space for team members to share how these current events are impacting them emotionally and personally. From those discussions, here’s what we decided we need from each other right now and in support of our Black team members:
- Understanding. The anger we express may not be about you. There’s a lot going on and we need grace and leniency.
- If your colleague seems off or are not acting like themselves, just check in. When you do, make sure they know there is no pressure for them to talk, but you are there when they are ready.
- No judgment. This impacts everyone in different ways and at different times. Someone might be just fine one minute and then really not OK the next. Things are changing on a minute to minute basis – what’s going on at home, with our families near and far, in the streets, on the news and on social media all impact us.
- Be authentic. You can only speak for yourself and your experience.
- Don’t assume someone’s experience based on how they appear. Our identities are complex, as are our families.
- Take some time to think before you act. Is it helpful? Is it what Black people in our community have asked for? Think about WHY you are acting.
- If you need a moment, please let supervisors know and we will do our best to make sure you can take a breather and re-set.
- We’re taking Juneteenth off. In honor of Juneteenth, our offices will be closed on June 19, 2020 for a day of reflection and action. We encourage other businesses and organizations to do the same.
As HMHBGA continues our imperfect work in pursuit of racial justice and health equity, we invite you to join us:
- Donate to Black-led health and advocacy organizations like the Black Mamas Matter, Center for Black Women’s Wellness, Feminist Women’s Health Center, SisterSong, Black Women’s Health Imperative, and other groups serving your community.
- Continue to fight with us to end the Maternal Mortality Crisis in Georgia. We are still working hard to protect vital maternal mortality prevention funding and to pass the extension of Pregnancy Medicaid to one-year postpartum in our State. Black women are 3-4x more likely to die from pregnancy, delivery or postpartum complications in Georgia than white women. It’s not OK and it has to stop. With the current budget cuts, this is a critical effort and we need your help! Sign up for Keeping Current @ The Capitol here.
- Contact your elected officials, including your mayor, city council members, and district attorney to advocate for accountability and change specific to addressing police brutality, such as the policy changes recommended by Campaign Zero, the American Public Health Association, and PolicyLink.
- Vote, volunteer and seek other ways to be active in your community.
- For non-Black allies: deepen your understanding of how racism affects all of us by reading anti‑racism resources and having conversations with your family and friends.
- Take your mental health seriously! There’s a lot going on right now between COVID-19 and the racial injustices we are processing as a community. If you need to locate a mental health provider, you can call us at 1-800-300-9003, Monday – Friday, 9AM – 5PM.
- You can also find resources from our friends at Mental Health America – Georgia.
- Here’s a great self-care checklist from the Dear Black Women Project.
- If you are experiencing maternal mental health concerns, you can call Postpartum Support International’s 24-Hr Helpline at 1-800-944-4773 or text 503-894-9453.
- If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call the toll-free Georgia Crisis & Access Line at 1-800-715-4225 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
- Above all else, take care of yourself and your loved ones.
Our Promise to You:
We are present. We are here for you. Georgia families still need support and we will always be here, standing beside you.
We will never stop fighting to improve Georgia’s maternal and infant health outcomes. We will always address disparities in outcomes based on structural racism and be intentional about that work within the community.
We will continue to do the work of addressing structural racism and white supremacy within our organization and in providing programs to the diverse communities we serve across Georgia.
Need resources? Call us at 1-800-300-9003, Monday – Friday, 8AM – 5PM.
Elise Blasingame, Executive Director & Johnecia Mason, Board President