February is a month in which we lament, celebrate, and educate ourselves on that which is Black History. Many of those we consider to be groundbreakers took controversial risks. In the moment, they were not always celebrated for the positive cultural changes they contributed to our history. As we grow on our journey to become more inclusive, it’s important to identify modern day groundbreakers, and help support their mission and message.
Angela Doyinsola Aina
Did you know that the US spends more on health care than any other developed country? Yet women within the US are dying of pregnancy related causes significantly more than they used to, and more so than other developed countries. Black women specifically are three to four times more likely than their white counterparts to suffer from pregnancy related deaths. Angela Doyinsola Aina, launched Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA) in 2016 to address these disparities. Aina believes that structural racism and gender oppression is what perpetuates these adverse health outcomes. BMMA worked with Congress to establish Black Maternal Health Week, which is now held each year in April. This year Aina has been pushing to promote the use of midwives and doulas. These figures are critical resources in communities that are most impacted by health disparities. To help support BMMA visit blackmamasmatter.org
Many American women, especially those with low wage positions, are forced to choose between their job or a healthy pregnancy. Dina Bakst believes this leads to lasting economic disadvantage. She helped to co-found A Better Balance, which represents women who lose their jobs while pregnant. The organization has been working with Congress to help pregnant women and new mothers get fair treatment at work. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees, and make it easier for breastfeeding moms to pump at work. As women become more dominant in the workforce, it is more important than ever to have fair work-life standards including: pregnancy accommodations, paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, and quality affordable childcare. To help support A Better Balance visit abetterbalance.org
William C Bell
On any given day in the US there are roughly 443,000 children in the US foster care program. These kids are more likely to drop out of high school compared to their peers who live with family. Additionally, kids who age out of the system are more likely to face homelessness, unemployment, and incarceration. While foster care is supposed to help children in need, it frequently equates to signs of poverty to child neglect, further exacerbating existing inequalities. William C Bell is the president and CEO of Casey Family Programs. In October of last year, Bell helped pass the Family First Prevention Services Act, which aims to keep more families together. The law allows states to use federal funding to help struggling parents before resorting to putting children in foster care. Bell believes that what’s good for the country is children being raised in a family-like setting, either with their parents or extended family. To help support Casey Family Programs visit casey.org
As we learned last week, 1 in 3 black males will go to prison/jail in their lifetime. Bryan Stevenson is the founder and executive director of The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). His organization has taken on the overwhelming task of fighting injustice in the criminal justice system. EJI works toward ending mass incarceration, excessive punishments, and the profound racial disparities in how justice is deployed in the United States. Stevenson and his team have taken on hundreds of capital punishment cases. The death penalty is applied more so to black convicts than their white counterparts. To learn more about EJI visit eji.org
Be courageous not only in your beliefs, but also your actions. Find a disparity that exists in our country, educate yourself on it and take action to be a part of the solution. If there is no solution in motion be courageous enough to start one. Becoming inclusive involves giving our voices to those individuals who do not have them in our society. We are the keepers of our brothers and sisters!
9 black activists who are fighting injustice in the US. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2021, from https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/9-black-activists-who-are-fighting-injustice-and-f/
About the Equal Justice Initiative. (2021, February 01). Retrieved February 21, 2021, from https://eji.org/about/
About. (2020, November 02). Retrieved February 21, 2021, from https://blackmamasmatter.org/about/
Abrams, A., Reilly, K., & R, K. (2020, February 20). Meet the activists and leaders who are fighting for equality. Retrieved February 21, 2021, from https://time.com/5783951/equality-activists/
What we do. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2021, from https://www.casey.org/what-we-do/
Who we are. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2021, from https://www.abetterbalance.org/who-we-are/