The Black Birth Renaissance
of the 21st Century
of the 21st Century
"When we try to put all of our energy and time toward unraveling white issues, [we're] not gonna really deal with the Black issues. You need to heal yourself... learn your people, your culture. Learn what fits you. You are gonna be chasing something not designed for your DNA. It's not designed for your cultural experience." ~ Tayo Mbande
Listen to the MP3:
"You can never, ever, ever be excellent and comfortable. Excellence and comfort do not equate. If you think [that by] being comfortable, excellence is gonna come... Honey, I'm telling you, you'll never be great."
This conversation is a long time coming, but with the commencement of Black Breastfeeding Week during this last week of August, I thought it a perfect time to introduce people to one of the greatest influences I ever had in the area of lactation. There are few who have made the impact that Rebecca Jackson-Artis did in lactation in the Chicago area while she was involved in birth culture. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find anyone involved in birth in Chicagoland during the beginning of this decade who did not know her or was not influenced by her work or her words.
I mentioned her words for a reason. Anyone who knows Rebecca knows that she has never been one to mince her words. In other words, "She said what she said..." Rebecca has always taken a no non-sense approach to anything she does. Expect extreme candidness throughout this interview. She is also a comedian, so if you are easily offended by words or context, brace yourself.
Rebecca discusses various aspects of her life and experiences with much candor. Please read the topics that will be discussed. These interviews are not censored or edited.
Rebecca offers this gratitude:
My great-grandmother Lue Kelly-Johnson, my grandmother Verna Johnson Turner, my mother Antoinette Rogers Jackson, my doula Isabelle Flegel, my midwives Kathleen Harmon and Sarah Simmons, TLC's A Baby Story and Birth Center, Dr. Alan Colon, PhD, and the African-centered community of women and men who honor the womb.
Connect with Rebecca and learn about her newest endeavors:
LinkedIn: Rebecca Jackson-Artis
YouTube: Rebecca Jackson-Artis
Facebook: Black Becky Speaks
Facebook: Totally Becky
Facebook: The Rebecca Show
There has been a recent push for more Black doulas since the challenges of Black women in childbirth have become more publicized. For UK doula, birth educator and advocate, Mars Lord, the current situation necessitates more than a representation of Black women working in birth culture, it requires knowledge of birth based on our historical contexts. It requires our voices to be raised against microaggressions that have the potential to derail important conversations and thwart our efforts toward progress for Black women. Mars would say that it is time to let go of the sweetness and instead realize that we are in a war to save our lives. While there are many differences based on our locations within western culture, ultimately, Black women are fighting the same fight in the U.S. and the UK.
Here are some ways you can connect to the work Mars is doing:
Phone: +44 07767348462
Training Website: https://AbuelaDoulas.com/
FB Page: Doula Mars Lord
Training FB Page: Abuela Doula
LinkedIn: Mars Lord
Twitter: Abuela Doulas
I always tell Nicolle that she is the kind of spirit that I would appreciate learning from. She is one of those sisters that I JUST LOVE! She has such beautiful energy and I have admired Nicolle Fletcher for the birthwork she has been doing in Arkansas for years.
Nicolle Fletcher is a Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula, Lactation Counselor, Childbirth Educator, Dancing for Birth™ Instructor, and a Certified Health Coach. I have watched as she used each of her areas of expertise to improve the birth experiences of women and families. I also noticed when Nicole began to shift her focus toward Black women and began to look for ways to enhance the experiences women of African descent have in birth culture, both those serving mothers and those who are expectant mothers. During our conversation, we discussed what that transition was like for her and how she has adjusted her work toward that end.
Nicolle's shared words of gratitude that were a blessing to me because I was included as a person she shows gratitude toward. Here is what she shared:
"I am most thankful for women like you Dr. Doula! I have attended multiple birth & postpartum doula workshops from DONA trainers, Spinning Babies Workshops, local agencies, experiential networking and a business consultation with Randy Patterson of ProDoula, however my purpose was fully realized after meeting you. You have inspired me to to remember and reclaim birth for Black women and birth workers."
DeLynn shared these words of gratitude:
"Words cannot fully express how grateful I am for my Midwife Lynda Hitchcock that transitioned (passed away) in 2007. I birthed 3 out of 10 of my children with her in the comfort of my home. I loved every moment of my home birth experiences.
Lynda was the first woman to teach me that giving birth to my baby WAS NOT A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. She taught me that most women would have safe and beautiful birthing experiences if the mother was in a preferred, comfortable, and supportive environment.
When we help Birth HERstory Traditions we are acknowledging the BLACK BIRTH RENAISSANCE that is happening around the world!
When we share our stories, practices, or traditions from women of African descent in America, we help preserve African American Birth HERstory. It is our responsibility as descendants of African women who were trafficked to the U.S. to hold their stories and know their practices, so that we are able to continue their tradition of being self-reliant and self-sustaining as communities of Black women. Do you have a birth tradition, story or practice that you would like to share? Do you know someone who could be interviewed that has a story to share that shows the connection between modern Black women and their traditional birth practices? Send Dr. Doula a message and let her know.
My work is informed by my background – experiences, expertise, exposure, education & environment – as a woman, mother, wife, sister, educator, researcher, scholar, advocate, birth ally and legacy builder. #IAmTheAnswer #WeSaveOurselves
(Please note that the information shared on this blog is for information purposes only. Pregnant women should consult their PCP before following any practices found within the Birth HERstory Series Blog.)