To date, discussions about Black maternal health have been carved into pre-existing
reproductive, maternal, and public health conferences where there is little space for meaningful
dialogue and limited framing on health equity and reproductive justice.
We know that Black Women are disproportionately impacted by our nation’s maternal mortality
crisis and early signs suggest that might also be the case with COVID-19. Mississippi, which has
the largest percentage of African Americans in the country, is already noticing a gender disparity
with “nearly 60 percent of people with COVID-19 and people hospitalized with COVID-19 in
Mississippi being women.”
Moreover, the racial wealth gap and Black Women’s overrepresentation in low wage jobs make
them more vulnerable to economic turmoil during the current public health crisis. Hospital
visitation restrictions are also eliminating critical sources of support for Black Women during
labor and delivery. This includes doulas, family members, friends, and other support persons,
which is very concerning given that Black Women already fare much worse than other groups in
regard to maternal mortality and near losses.
This session seeks to provide this space to discuss how implicit racial and gender biases can
change healthcare outcomes, what disparities currently exist, and how to begin dismantling
health injustice. By disseminating best practices to address critical issues in Black maternal
health from different sectors including research, care, policy, and culture; we can frame health
equity and reproductive justice for Black Women.