Birthing Justice : Black Women, Pregnancy, and Childbirth book cover
1st Edition

Birthing Justice
Black Women, Pregnancy, and Childbirth

ISBN 9781138191457
Published December 22, 2015 by Routledge
246 Pages 8 Color Illustrations

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Book Description

There is a global crisis in maternal health care for black women. In the United States, black women are over three times more likely to perish from pregnancy-related complications than white women; their babies are half as likely to survive the first year. Many black women experience policing, coercion, and disempowerment during pregnancy and childbirth and are disconnected from alternative birthing traditions. This book places black women's voices at the center of the debate on what should be done to fix the broken maternity system and foregrounds black women's agency in the emerging birth justice movement. Mixing scholarly, activist, and personal perspectives, the book shows readers how they too can change lives, one birth at a time.

Table of Contents

I Birthing Histories

1 Queen Elizabeth Perry Turner: "Granny Midwife," 1931–1956 Darline Turner

2 Regulating Childbirth: Physicians and Granny Midwives in South Carolina Alicia D. Bonaparte

3 Between Traditional Knowledge and Western Medicine: Women Birthing in Postcolonial Zimbabwe Christina Mudokwenyu-Rawdon, Peggy Dube, Nester T. Moyo, and Stephen Munjanja

II Beyond Medical versus Natural: Redefining Birth Injustice

4 An Abolitionist Mama Speaks: On Natural Birth and Miscarriage Viviane Saleh-Hanna

5 Mothering: A Post-C-Section Journey Jacinda Townsend

6 Confessions of a Black Pregnant Dad Syrus Marcus Ware

7 Birth Justice and Population Control Loretta J. Ross

8 Beyond Silence and Stigma: Pregnancy and HIV for Black Women in Canada Marvelous Muchenje and Victoria Logan Kennedyiv Contents

9 What I Carry: A Story of Love and Loss Iris Jacob

10 Images from the Safe Motherhood Quilt Ina May Gaskin and Laura Gilkey

III Changing Lives, One Birth at a Time

11 Birthing Sexual Freedom and Healing: A Survivor Mother’s Birth Story Biany Pérez

12 Birth as Battle Cry: A Doula’s Journey from Home to Hospital Gina Mariela Rodríguez

13 Sister Midwife: Nurturing and Reflecting Black Womanhood in an Urban Hospital Stephanie Etienne

14 A Love Letter to My Daughter: Love as a Political Act Haile Eshe Cole

15 New Visions in Birth, Intimacy, Kinship, and Sisterly Partnerships Shannon Gibney and Valerie Deus

16 I Am My Hermana’s Keeper: Reclaiming Afro-Indigenous Ancestral Wisdom as a Doula Griselda Rodriguez

17 The First Cut Is the Deepest: A Mother-Daughter Conversation about Birth, Justice, Healing, and Love Pauline Ann McKenzie-Day and Alexis Pauline Gumbs

IV Taking Back Our Power: Organizing for Birth Justice

18 Unexpected Allies: Obstetrician Activism, VBACs, and the Birth Justice Movement Christ-Ann Magloire and Julia Chinyere Oparah

19 Birthing Freedom: Black American Midwifery and Liberation Struggles Ruth Hays

20 Becoming an Outsider-Within: Jennie Joseph’s Activism in Florida Midwifery Alicia D. Bonaparte and Jennie Joseph

21 Beyond Shackling: Prisons, Pregnancy, and the Struggle for Birth Justice Priscilla A. Ocen and Julia Chinyere Oparah

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Julia Chinyere Oparah is Professor and Chair of Ethnic Studies at Mills College and a founding member of Black Women Birthing Justice. She is co-editor of Activist Scholarship: Antiracism, Feminism and Social Change and Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption

Alicia D. Bonaparte is Associate Professor of Sociology at Pitzer College and a medical sociologist with a specialization in reproductive health and health disparities. She is currently working on a book on the lives of granny midwives in South Carolina.


“A truly original and innovative book—and an absolute necessity in the current field of research on reproduction.”
—Christa Craven, College of Wooster, author of Pushing for Midwives: Homebirth Mothers and the Reproductive Rights Movement.

“With its commitment to placing black women at the center of the conversation and scholarship about their own lives and the value it places on agency, activism, and putting scholarship to work for the purpose of social change, Birthing Justice makes an important and much-needed contribution to the small but growing number of books examining reproductive justice. This anthology of black women’s experiences of pregnancy and childbirth is long overdue.”
—Jeanne Flavin, Fordham University, author of Our Bodies, Our Crimes: The Policing of Women’s Reproduction in America.