Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Naysayers, hijackers, and Angry B*tches...OH MY!

Warning - Strongly worded rant, read at your own risk!!

I've had the privilege of being in some pretty heated, balls out, inspiring, eye-opening discussions over the course of just three short days. Some of these took place in person others over the internet. Indulge me for a few while I talk about the debates of the latter.

If you haven't already seen the post Racism and Low Birth Weight 101, by The Unnecesarean, it might be hard to completely get where I am coming from, but then again I think my point is kinda basic: When it comes to racial injustices, you don't have to fucking buy it, because it aint up for sale!

In regards to some of the many comments about the aforementioned post on The Unnecesarean, let me be the first to say, I understand healthy skepticism. I understand exploring other causes of infant mortality in blacks. I understand just having a different point of view. What I don't understand is this incessant need to divert the discussion from what the post is originally about, without really opening yourself up to any real discussion. Examples of the diversion/hijacking:

*Not all white people are racists (I don't remember the studies drawing that conclusion but whatever)

*I don't even know any racist people where I live (my personal favorite because, what the fuck does that mean?)

*What about Native Americans or Hispanics? Why is just about African Americans?

I'd like to address that last one. Here is the answer: Quite simply, because it is ONE study about African American rates of Infant mortality and any possible links to systematic racism. What the hell is wrong with that? It could as easily been a study about the Native American Community or another minority, and still be worth our attention and important enough for us to have an open mind with meaningful dialogue about it. I would find any study about any culture and their infant mortality rate compelling and worth my interest. We could, of course, debate the merits of how that study came to be, but doesn't that in and of itself require an open mind, a level of respect and understanding. Would there be as much resistance if we were talking about a culture of women in some foreign land or would we all be shaking our heads and fists in disgust and anger, outraged at the mistreatment of these other women? Of course, I can't say for sure, but I'm curious.

Lastly, the thing that really grinds my gears (this is a rant remember) is the sentiment I've seen these few days about how linking racism in this way is not scientific. The underlying feelings and some outright comments have been that you can't prove racism because it's how a person feels, namely the victim of it. Therefore, it has no real place in the debates about birth and especially birth outcomes. It's so utterly amazing that some of the same people I've seen make this argument about racism, champion a woman's right to use the term "Birth Rape", citing how you can't deny what the woman felt as she was victimized and her right to categorize what happened to her in birth this way. I know there is a huge difference between racism and that of rape (of any kind), but why does a woman's feelings in this aspect deserve our attention and respect, but the other does not. Why is the outcomes of trauma in birth and say the link to postpartum depression, or even negative outcomes on the mental well-being of infants, more plausible and worth more time and attention, than that of any links to negative outcomes of birth in African American women who suffer systematic racism? Further more, how did that post fail to link racism and it's outcomes on birth in a scientific or at the very least plausible way?


  1. The (white)lad(ies) doth protest too much, methinks.

  2. Oh, and by the way, am a VA historian writing about how white women in first have of 20thc, in order to establish their own power w/in white male hierarchy quantified and measured the worth of A-A midwives--is called eugenics--among other things

  3. When it comes to racial injustices, you don't have to fucking buy it, because it aint up for sale!

    This. So much of this. I think we all need a drink after that thread. (some of us a figurative drink, haha)

  4. @ Courtroommama - I think that is why I ended up writing this rant..I couldn't take a drink! LOL

  5. Thanks for writing this rant. I was feeling kinda ragey after reading some of the comments on that post and the follow-up guest post by ma'ia.

  6. "What about Native Americans or Hispanics? Why is just about African Americans?"

    I think you missed the point of bringing this up. I am BLACK, please keep that in mind as you read my comment.
    If we are going to look at these studies in a scientific manner we have to ask ourselves, if racism causes Low birth weight and higher infant mortality why is this not apparent in other ethnicities that have been victims of racism?
    The answer is either, racism is not the cause or racism is not the sole cause and there may be another contributing factor.
    I want to know why babies are dying so that it can be prevented. I feel that just jumping to the conclusion of racism without looking at the scientific logic and facts is doing a disservice to black women. If we want the problem solved we need to know the cause.
    It does not make sense for racism to cause higher infant mortality and LBW in one ethnic group and not another. There has to be more to the story and I hope that people can look past their emotions and find the truth so that lives can be saved.

  7. @ Mrs. Schaible - I actually think you missed my point, but that's okay, it happens.

    By the way, I have seen this correlation between other minorities, racism and poor outcomes mentioned in studies. I still say that how one race suffers abuse and their subsequent outcomes, can't be compared to another groups, which again is why I ask, why derail from the real conversation? This study is about African Americans.

    On another side note, I personally do believe there are many other factors involved in this issue and that we shouldn't rule out ANY. I guess where we differ is that it DOES make sense that race would be one of them, whether there is more to the story or not..dismissing this as a factor to is NOT getting pass emotions, nor is it finding the if we do dismiss this as a real issue how can lives every be saved.

  8. Thank you for responding! I really want to have a discussion about this and I appreciate your response so much.
    I do agree with you that one ethnic group's experience is different from the next. If we can pinpoint how it is different maybe we can find the exact type of racism or type of experience that is causing these outcomes.
    I studied cultural in college, and I know the importance of cultural perceptions and values. I wonder if there might be a common cultural perception towards birth/racism or maybe even a cultural value that could be also causing this. Does that make sense?
    I want to go deeper than just "racism". I feel that racism needs to be clearly defined because that is a big word with lots of definitions and connotations.
    Secondly, I feel that the more studies need to be done to rule out other factors before we say definitively that racism is the cause. I hope that makes sense. Again thank you so much for responding!

  9. That makes perfect sense! Did you read the article I was referencing in my blogpost? I do believe it links to more than just one study and you mind some very interesting things in there, especially the way racism is defined. I wish I could write more but I've got a toddler who needs changing, and a kindergartner I have to walk (waddle) my big pregnant self and toddler to go pick up! You really should click the link in my blog (if you haven't already) and look at the studies though! Talk to you later.