Confronting anti-Black racism and oppression

Earlier this year, 26 year old Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, a 46 year old Black man who was left unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, were murdered by police officers. Following their deaths, nearly a million people joined with the Black Lives Matter movement to decry the ongoing brutalization and murder of Black communities by the police. Out of these protests came a renewed commitment to racial justice across disciplines, including in health care. W​e, at The Midwives’ Clinic, join the ​Association of Ontario Midwives​ a​nd the​ ​Canadian Association of Midwives​ in asserting that Black lives – including Black clients, Black midwives, and Black students – matter.​ We acknowledge that we exist in a healthcare system deeply affected by racism and colonialism, and midwifery is not exempt. American data shows that Black birthers and their babies are at higher risk for poor outcomes, and we must understand these impacts in the Canadian context by denouncing and taking action against the inequalities that endanger Black people’s health.

We, The Midwives’ Clinic, commit to:

  1. Following Black and Indigenous leadership to guide our action and advocacy
  2. Making anti-racism a part of our ongoing professional development activities
  3. Being vocal against racism at Michael Garron Hospital and advocating for justice within the broader healthcare system
  4. Creating a clinic and an online presence that welcomes all people
  5. Standing with Black Health Advocates to demand the collection of race-based health data to guide our care
  6. Promoting and nurturing racial diversity within our team
  7. Advocating for the respectful care of our uninsured clients, regardless of immigration status
  8. Creating community connections with Black birth workers to better support our clients

Confronting racism cannot happen without dismantling other forms of oppression. ​We acknowledge that resistance against colonialism, socioeconomic inequality, queer and transphobia, and xenophobia must be at the forefront of our committment to social justice, and that Indigenous sovereignty still requires protection against ongoing systemic violence. ​Racial justice is achieved only when we work together, and we welcome partnerships with those who aim to address healthcare inequalities.

Ultimately, we must each acknowledge our own implicit biases, meaning that even with good intentions we can still commit racist acts, or be complicit in racism, and our good behaviour may not negate the harmful effects of systemic racism. Our team is committed to addressing our biases through anti-racism and anti-oppression training, and ​we continue to deconstruct the barriers that have made the midwifery profession overwhelmingly white. ​We understand that these are the ​first of many needed steps,​ and we thank our community for dialoguing with us on how ​we can nurture an enduring anti-racist culture, for generations.

REFERENCES

1) “Anti-Black Racism is a Public Health Crisis”Statement from Black Health Leaders
https://www.allianceon.org/news/Statement-Black-health-leaders-Anti-Black-Racism-Public-Health-Crisis

2)”Black Experiences in Health Care Symposium Report”
https://www.mountsinai.on.ca/about_us/health-equity/pdfs/SHS-BEHC-report-FINAL-aoda-final.pdf

3) “Why Black women fear for their lives in the delivery room” by Eternity E Martis June 4 2020
https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/black-maternal-health-canada_ca_5ed90ae3c5b685164f2eab93

4) “What it’s like to give birth while Black” by Tayo Bero Sept 2019
https://www.chatelaine.com/living/black-birthing-experience-canada/

5) “Ontario mulls collection of coronavirus race-based health data; some argue its essential” Colin Perkel June 2, 2020
https://globalnews.ca/news/7018459/ontario-coronavirus-race-based-data/

6) MATCH program anti-bias policy ​
https://www.srchc.ca/match-anti-bias-policy/