As a doula, my job is to provide nonjudgmental support to pregnant persons and their families and partners. I’m proud of my job. I love my job. Whether you choose a medicated or non-medicated birth, circumcision or no circumcision, home-birth or hospital birth, I support you. Your birth. Your decisions. Your way. It is not my job to interject or apply my personal opinions, regarding birth, to you and your family. I take pride in these efforts. I cherish that I’m a small part of an agency and a training organization that both stand for and encourage nonjudgmental support to pregnant persons and their partners. However, my nonjudgmental support has a line in the sand. A tipping point. A place where it no longer applies.
As a doula, my support knows no racial, sexual orientation, or religious boundaries. I support people of color. I support people who identify on the LGBTQ+IA spectrum. I support people of varying religions and creeds. As a white ally, I stand for you. I support you. I do not and will not stand for anyone who disrespects you as a person —Racism, bigotry, intolerance is where my nonjudgmental support ends.
Social injustices are institutionalized in our society. They are so engrained in our every day interactions that, as a society, we refuse to see how campaigns such as #blacklivesmatter are necessary. We see a hijab and immediately think of oppressive thoughts. We see a young black child carrying a toy gun and think he’s a threat. Our society questions birthing and parenting choices of people of color and of the LGBTQ+IA community. We question their rights and desires to have and build strong families. At some point, it has to end. We have to stand up to the ignorance and hate.
What does this have to do with being a doula, you may ask? Everything. It has everything to do with being a doula. As one of my mentors said, birth matters because people matter. People matter. Maternal and newborn mortality rates affect people of color at a disproportionate rate. In 2010, the infant mortality rate among non-hispanic, black americans was 2.2 times that of non-hispanic white people, and 2.3 in 2013. When you break this down by location/state, the rates are even more staggering. People in disenfranchised groups have less access to quality care both during pregnancy and outside of pregnancy. While people of color make up a large percentage of the population, they are grossly underrepresented in medical professions, including obstetrics.
As potential clients, I need you to know I do not consider racist words, bigoted actions, or intolerance a joke —there is nothing remotely humorous about social injustices and health disparities. Most of my career has been dedicated to decreasing the disparities mentioned above and I hope to continue this work in the future. I need you to know, I do believe that black lives matter. I believe trans lives matter. I believe Muslim lives matter. I am not and do not want to be a silent observer. I unapologetically stand against harmful and ignorant words and actions of hate.
To my fellow doulas who are people of color, please know that I stand with you, as well. I hear your voice. I do my best to listen, to trust you, to trust your experiences. And I ask you to please continue to keep me accountable. Help me stand true to these convictions.
As someone who was raised to “not see color” in a small town in East Jesus Nowhere, Georgia, it took a lot of self-reflection, personal discomfort, and a deliberate willingness to listen and understand my white privilege and how engrained it is in our society. As a white person, I try every day to check my privilege. To check my understanding. To check my pride. I’m thankful I have people in my life who help me with this task. If you want to start somewhere, start with your own views, your own discomfort. Start by examining what you’ve always known to be truths.