The State of the Black Womb

By: Iyanna Bridges

Black men are being killed relentlessly in the streets by police and Black women and children are being neglected and killed by the hands of our healthcare providers. Are we ready for that discussion , can we talk about why the number of Black women dying in our health care facilities have surpassed our white counterparts. 

Consistent and substantial trauma has been linked and associated with genetic stress, passed down  almost like a birthright. Multigenerational transmission of trauma shared amongst Black women through our wombs. Epigenetics supports the research that trauma can leave a chemical mark on your genes, not causing damage to the gene or mutation but a branding like cattle or property, a slave to horrific memories. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. 

Let’s start the discussion of the Black womb, starting at slavery to present day 2020. 

Standing on the slave block, awaiting to be auctioned off, standing there holding your baby in your arms. Confused. Scared. Frantic. Suddenly your most precious possession is ripped from your arms, the only thing right in all the wrong around you. And from that moment on every child you birth is not yours. You had no say in your womb and the whereabouts of the children you carried. Dissociated from motherhood. Hatred for our Black men due to lack of protection and shared trauma. Sorrow buried in your womb. 

Now, let’s discuss our unbearable encounter with the “Father of Modern Day Gynecology”, James Marion Sims. Our wombs subjugated to deploreible  experiments , all in the name of science and medical advancements. Nomatter how much you begged for relief. Although anesthetics were available, as Black women your higher tolerance for pain doesn’t  allow for your pain to be subdued and you must be conscious for the whole procedure. Black women disassociated from motherhood, emotionally disowned the Black man and now made to feel like your womb is cursed, wearing a scarlet letter a “B” for bearing a Black womb. Say her name Anarcha.

The Black womb has endured hundreds of years of torment and torture. And still she rises with a bogus legacy of strength.

Moving forward to the Fannie Lou Hamers of the south, from Mississippi to North Carolina. From our babies as young as 10years old, their mothers coerced to authorize permanent sterilization procedures to mothers seeing federal government assistance signing over their basic human right to bear children to receive food stamps or going to the doctor for a ‘cough’ and being prepped for surgery. Social workers given Godly powers to determine whether you deserve the ability to reproduce. Feeble Minded. Illiterate. Inferior. 

1974 North Carolina wasn’t the latest case of mass forced sterilization. How about as late as 2010 in a women’s prison in California. 

Message received America, the Black womb is profitable but Black women are undesirable. Western medicine we get it, our bodies create cures for the world while we whittier away silently. How dare we think ‘our bodies, our say’.We are to be used, over-sexualized and tossed to the side. Be seen and not heard. The story of the Black womb.

Present day 2020, medical institutions are reaping the benefits of its founding fathers, receiving their inheritance as written in the will “under one condition, make us proud and surpass our practice”. 

Let’s talk about the huge racial disparities, Black women are four times more likely to die while giving birth from preventable complications. Black women ranking the highest in maternal and infant mortality. Dying at the hands of our oppressors. This is the state of the Black womb. Intoxicated with trauma. Infiltrated with rage. Embalmed with displaced hatred. Swollen with sorrow. Black women we carry our pain in the womb not on our sleeves.  Our cries for our Black husbands, our weeps for our babies, our silent anxiety as we lay on the examination table awaiting a simple check up. This trauma presents itself physically in the form of disease, infertility, tumors and cyst. 

It’s time we healed. It’s time we detoxified, released and spring cleaned the Black womb. The next generation depends on it. Black women led community based organizations are essential to the healing of the Black womb, restructuring of the Black family and re-centering the community. Organizations such as The Birthing Hut, which strides to provide free birth and postpartum doula support, labor preparation and childbirth education classes for expecting and new families. Pittsburgh Brown Mamas, is a safe space for Black and Brown mama’s to support each other collectively with valuable community resources and advice creating an authentic sisterhood. And we have Pittsburgh Black Breastfeeding Circle, a true example of, “it takes a village” . A group which equips its community members to be peer champions so they can assist their peers with breastfeeding, nurturing and bonding with the very children we wept for.

The Birthing Hut , Pittsburgh Brown Mamas and Pittsburgh Black Breastfeeding Circle are just a few community organizations and groups whose prioritization of Black women are essential for healing the womb and self preservation of the Black community.  

How can you help ? Your allegiance with the Black community should be financial backing. Funding, donations or even resources and supplies to help that organization better assist their community.It’s time we had these conversations and provided financial solutions to realistically invoke change.  

“In order to interrupt racism we must honor the Black mother” – Kiddada Green, Founding Executive Director Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association