Monday Musing: Erykah… Ebony… And a Missed Opportunity…

A couple of weeks ago I was standing in line at the grocery store and picked up the March issue of Ebony Magazine. I picked it up initially because of the cover. It featured Samuel L. Jackson as the “King of Hollywood” looking fine as ever wit his bad ass…. But I digress…

As I flipped the pages, I noticed there was an article about Erykah Badu and her road to midwifery.  Suddenly I was “forced” to purchase the issue. I’m always happy to see anything positive about midwives in mainstream media, especially outlets that are widely read by black women. I was surprised to see the article and wondered why no one in my birth circles had talked about it…Or… I thought to myself, maybe they did, and I was simply under a rock. Regardless, I made the purchase and decided I would read the article later that day… which ultimately jus became later… Two weeks later.

Once I read the article, I  was truly disappointed.  The article did not speak at all about the benefits of midwifery care, or the benefits of hiring a doula. It said nothing of perinatal disparities and the need for black women to get more involved and to take more control over their birth experiences. The article gave information that could easily be misunderstood/misinterpreted. And aside from the fact that the article featured Erykah Badu, who is a wonderful role model and spokesperson for normal birth… the article did a disservice to birth professionals, to black women and to #BlackBirth in general IMHO.

It is well known that back babies and black mammas nationwide have the worst perinatal outcomes, yet somehow when Ebony decided to write an article about midwifery they left these facts out.  We have heard the statistic before. The national infant mortality rate is approximately 6.42 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. The rate for caucasian babies is less than the national average at around 5.3 deaths per 1,000 births while the rate for black babies is DOUBLE the national average with greater than 12 black babies dying per 1,000 births. In some states as many as 16 black babies die!!  Prematurity is the leading cause of infant mortality for black babies.  There are a host of reasons black women find themselves at increased risk for premature birth.  Ebony didn’t mention any of that.

Ebony left out information about the benefits of midwifery care and doulas.  They didn’t mention that research has shown repeatedly that Midwifery care with its attention to detail and focus on people and families not just bellies and babies, can turn birth disparities around.  Check out the work of one of my Midwife Sheroes Jennie Joseph for proof.   They left out advice about choosing a better doctor and getting better outcomes. Yep…. They left all of this out, all while doing things like calling a fetoscope a “maternity stethoscope”

I mentioned my annoyance to a couple of folk and their take on it was… “Well… This was an article about Erykah Badu not midwifery and pregnancy.” My thought… It was an article about Erykah and her path to midwifery… The two cannot be separated.   I thought to myself, maybe if they had covered these topics else where in the issue it would have been better.

Not five pages after the article on Erykah there was the “Wellness /Spirituality” section. Personally I can think of nothing that matches these two categories simultaneously more than midwifery. Yet… As I flipped through this section there is no word of pregnancy, birth, doulas, or midwives.

There was an article about Vitamin D.  Not a word about the research surrounding vitamin d deficiency and pre eclampsia; A serious pregnancy issue that disproportionately affects black women. There was even a blurb about clean teeth and heart attacks.  Again no mention of pregnancy, birth and the VERY STRONG link between dental hygiene and pre term labor.  Remember… preterm birth is the number one reason for infant mortality for black babies.

I was disappointed that Ebony fell short…waaaayyyy short.

They missed an opportunity to educate not only black women of child-bearing age but black families everywhere. And for that I say shame on you Ebony. Here was an opportunity to really serve the women who read your magazine and it was missed. I hope next time it will be different.

Did you read the Ebony Article? Do you feel like they missed an opportunity to help women Birth Something Beautiful™?  I sure do.

Welp… that’s my musing for this week…. Make it a GREAT one!
Don’t forget to follow me on twitter I’m @SistaMidiwfe

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6 responses to “Monday Musing: Erykah… Ebony… And a Missed Opportunity…

  1. I say go hit them up on Twitter and Facebook and send them the link to this article. Maybe they just don’t have anyone who knows how to write that. Maybe YOU can step in and fill the void as their writer. It’s obvious one is sorely needed. Social media beings brands closer to their customers. Use it to your advantage and get the word out PLEASE! If you don’t, I just might do it myself. =)

    Thanks so much for sharing your hard hitting thoughts!

  2. I haven’t read the article but I did know erykah badu was on her journey because of twitter. But I guess when it comes to ebony it is disappointing but not shocking I an a 21 year old african american female and everything I have been taught about midwivery has been negative or lacking. Everything I know about midwivery and blacktating I learned on my own accord via the net. Even my partner is skeptical about me having a homebirth n breastfeeding our future children. It’s easier too access propaganda than true facts and tune media gets more results and funding spitting out misleading information.

    • You are so right. Its exciting for me to know that even under the circumstances you at 21 years have done research and know there is another way. I was not so upon things when I was 21 so CONGRATULATIONS. Share the information. No pressure. Your partner will come around. And know that w/o your partners support things can get sticky. Get help if you need it. Let me know if I can answer any questions or provide any assitance. THANKS for reading and sharing your comment.

  3. I have not read the article you are speaking about but I will see if I can find it. Have you thought about submitting your comments to Ebony? If I am not mistaken I believe there is a section for commenting on previous articles. You give some very important facts that was sadly over looked in the article but maybe the focus was just on Erykah. The fact the our community still don’t understand and embrace the work of a midwife or doula is also sad and needs to be brought to light. I realize part of being a doula is to educate people on the benefits using one. I challenge you to write to Ebony, maybe they will feel inspired to write a more indepth article about midwifery and doula’s.

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