Living and Giving

A Statistic That Will Make Your Heart Drop

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This stat made my heart drop:

“death of a baby was simply a fact of life, and babies died so often that parents avoided naming their children before their first birthdays. The United States began keeping records of infant mortality by race. That year [1850], the reported black infant-mortality rate was 340 per 1,000; the white rate was 217 per 1,000. Continue reading “Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis…”

How can we ever get over that?

How can I as a white person ever understand it?

It erased any confidence that I could have empathy — I haven’t lived this.

But I could have compassion. I could have a HIGHER sense of justice to take a stand against the injustices people of color face — and not just African Americans.

It swept my whole mind to think of how discrimination happens every minute, for different reasons, for each person of a different, stunning, and beautiful color.


\"ScreenPhoto from The New York Times


Look at Simone Landrum… she was a mom affected by these statistics. Her daughter?

“A few hours later, a nurse brought Harmony, who had been delivered stillborn via C-section, to her. Wrapped in a hospital blanket, her hair thick and black, the baby looked peaceful, as if she were dozing.”

In 1960, the United States was ranked 12th among developed countries in infant mortality. Since then, with its rate largely driven by the deaths of black babies, the United States has fallen behind and now ranks 32nd out of the 35 wealthiest nations. Low birth weight is a key factor in infant death, and a new report released in March by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin suggests that the number of low-birth-weight babies born in the United States — also driven by the data for black babies — has inched up for the first time in a decade.

Just as I thought I was starting to understand — I understood how much I don\’t understand.

Another heart-stopping statistic:

“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants — 11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data —
a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850.”


\"ScreenPhoto from The New York Times


The discrimination has gotten worse?


And it\’s even sicker seeing that we are in Silicon Valley.

The fact that the trends have reversed, and we are nearly 200 years behind again, shows how entrenched we are in rampant discrimination and blocked opportunity.

And so we read from the Center for Disease Control which:

“mined a database of close to a million previously unavailable linked birth and death certificates and found that infants born to college-educated black parents were twice as likely to die as infants born to similarly educated white parents. In 72 percent of the cases, low birth weight was to blame. … No one knows. … but this might have something to do with stress.”


\"ScreenPhoto from The New York Times


A light came for me at the end of the article, in which doulas seemed to be a sort of CASA. Just as we take a stand for rights for our foster youth, and provide a sense of safety and solace and uprightness and almost a law of reasonability, and just as we advocate — so do the doulas.  Doulas are not just here to provide the birth and shepherd in a naturalized way of birth life. They are also here to advocate for the mothers. They ensure strong medical support, personability in meeting the technicians and doctors and that records, the process and the relationships are more intact, providing this whole process of giving life greater dignity, grace and health for the baby and all concerned.


\"ScreenPhoto from The New York Times


So that was a great takeaway for me — how can I be a “Doula CASA?”  CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for abused and neglected children; in many cases, CASA volunteers are the one constant adult presence in the children’s lives. CASA volunteers stay with the children until they are in a safe and permanent home.

How, in each part of the process with my youth, can I provide access to rights, to education, to protection, to housing, to food, to stability, so that this process of life is more stable and comforting?  If we can provide that greater nurturance, support network and kind community, then births will be more healthy both physically and spiritually. And if we can do that for our CASA youth throughout their lives, then we will help them be positive, capable and supportive youth, then adults.

Be a CASA today. If you can’t volunteer, support them so more foster youth can have a CASA adult.