Like many of you, I’m having some hard conversations with people in my life who are resistant to the idea of implicit bias, or how this impacts people of color, particularly Black people. It’s so important we keep using our voices to spread awareness even if they’re uncomfortable conversations. Black women are dying due to pregnancy complications 3-4 times the rate as white women (CDC). Black women are more likely to have Perinatal Mood and Anxiety disorders, and yet are less likely to be screened or treated for them (NIH). We’re even seeing Black infant mortality rate is significantly higher than that of white babies, even when controlling for socioeconomic and other environmental factors (CDC).
So what does implicit bias look like in healthcare?
A 2016 study shows that half of medical students sampled believe that black people feel less pain. Half.
That statistic is mind blowing and yet aligns with the stories I hear from women clients of color feeling unheard, powerless, undermedicated or coerced during their delivery and postpartum experiences.
When we question why maternal mortality rates are exponentially higher for women of color, particularly those for Black women, we cannot minimize the impact of implicit bias on this staggering difference.
I challenge us as white providers (even those of us who think we’re open minded) to continue to unpack our own stuff, learn, practice cultural humility and be open to the possibility that we do harm.
I certainly don’t have all the answers and am forever learning. Unpacking my own issues and moving from cultural competency to cultural humility will be a lifelong process.
What’s great is that there is Implicit Bias training rolling out in healthcare systems in California (bill 464) and slowly change is happening. What can you do, if you’re not in healthcare? Spread awareness, keep doing your own work on your own biases, and use your votes for the people who are addressing this on a policy level. Follow and donate to organizations addressing these disparities. Let’s keep it going, it’s up to all of us.💜⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Some organizations that I recommend you follow are:
Shades of Blue Project ⠀⠀
Every Mom CountsBlack Women Birthing JusticeThe Black DoulaTherapy for Black GirlsAncient Song Doula ServicesFrontline Doulas
I thank you for your wisdom, experience and for helping change this public health issue.
(*Study cited in White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo).