Written by: Brandi Collins-Calhoun Date: March 10, 2021
A Q&A with National Birth Equity Collaborative’s Dr. Joia Crear-Per NBEC
How can the sector ethically invest in maternal mortality without erasing the stories of those we lose and dehumanizing the work that leaders such as NBEC are holding? The following calls to action are simply a starting point to ethically investing in this work, it will take major shifts and accountability to truly fund this work without erasing the narrative of the lives lost to this crisis: 1. Allocate more funding to Black-led organizations and ensure the sector is following the leadership of Black women, they hold the solutions but are severely under-resourced. 2. Invest in community-based organizations to allow them to continue to do the work and build upon community by harnessing their power within the sector. 3. Center the voices of the most marginalized, specifically Black birthing people and birth workers.Solutions to the crisis should be driven by those closest to the crisis. 4. Create more funding streams for Black-led reproductive justice groups.Currently the few streams of funding available create competition among the organizations as each attempt to secure funds. The sector cannot continue to use funds to cause tension or distrust amongst leaders of the movement. 5. Recognize philanthropy’s anti-Black sentiment and the structural forces it creates. We ask that the sector look to leaders like the National Birth Equity Collaborative and Groundswell Fund for examples of ethical, trauma-informed organizing and grantmaking that is grounded in birth justice. Foundations should be more proactive in this work, such as upcoming opportunities like the Black Mamas Matter Alliances and Black Maternal Health Virtual Conference, “the premiere assembly for Black women, clinicians, professionals, advocates, and other stakeholders working to improve maternal health using the birth justice, reproductive justice, and human rights frameworks.” Philanthropy can no longer wait on organizations to hold the emotional and intellectual labor to collect these stories and data points for their grantmaking practices, they must be intentionally present in spaces that focus on the issues.