Statement by In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda President Marcela Howell on anti-police brutality uprisings...
In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda was thrilled to participate in a “Coffee and Conversation” on the intersections of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and Maternal Health hosted by Ujima, Inc.: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community. The conversation centered on violence, bias, and preventable deaths experienced by Black women throughout the duration of a pregnancy.
As Vice President of Government Affairs, on Oct. 14, I was honored to be in conversation with Megan Simmons, Senior Policy Attorney at Ujima, Inc.: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community and Dr. Jamila Perritt, Physician, Advocate and Reproductive Justice Activist to discuss Reproductive Justice, how IPV and maternal health intersect, and how violence negatively impacts maternal health. I was able to discuss what policymakers can do to adequately address these issues, including thinking intersectionally about people and their lives instead of “silo-ing” and centering individual’s stories and experiences in policymaking. It was wonderful to be on a panel with Dr. Perritt who was able to address what providers can do to ensure safety and comfort for survivors of IPV in traditional medical settings.
When we were asked why there are disparities in maternal health for Black Women, Dr. Perritt and I were unequivocal —White Supremacy. White Supremacy invades every aspect of our society and our work. Implicit and explicit bias and power and control have pervaded our culture and led to centuries of assault and violence on Black women’s bodies, obstetric violence, contraceptive sabotage, culturally insensitive care, forced sterilization and so much more. We know that to truly address the disparities in maternal health and intimate partner violence that exist in our communities, we must first address the decades and centuries old behaviors and practices that have brought us to where we are today.
Dr. Perritt and I ended our conversation recalling what brought us to Reproductive Justice work. As it turns out, for both of us, we did not find joy in our work before we were in spaces where marginalized voices and communities were lifted up, where the work of folks of color is centered, and we were able to bring our authentic selves to our work and conversations. We both found that home in Reproductive Justice and are pleased to be able to share that framework far and wide, especially during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
To learn more about the Reproductive Justice Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence Week of Solidarity, follow the hashtags #IPVIsAnRJIssue and #DVIsAnRJIssue and @BlackWomensRJ on Twitter!