The Solidarity network is a diverse circle of humans - from Minnesota and beyond, women and men, cis, trans, and non-gender conforming folks from all walks of life, families, and perspectives - who recognize their areas of privilege and are committed to healing justice and equity. We work alongside the MN Healing Justice Network in solidarity by offering our time, skills, social networks and resources, and standing by as specific needs arise.
“When you do nothing you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.”
Note: This list was created in response to an outpouring of conversations specifically about birth equity, as one slice of health equity conversations happening across Minnesota. Still, the concepts and 4 ways to help have been echoed throughout healing and reproductive justice workers far beyond birth. We are sharing it as a template and a guide, as policies and needs are shifting rapidly in this pandemic.
4 Ways to Help:
Have an anti-racist perspective
Press for legislative and policy change
Share your time & social networks
Make long-term investments through money & resources
We know our communities struggle to access all systems including health care, we live in neighborhoods and families with fewer resources and social capital, and we have personal histories of lower health and higher stress from racism and other forms of discrimination. Research shows that we are less likely to receive high quality health care “because of the assumptions that doctors and hospitals are making about [us]” and that racism is a key factor, “given that even low-income white women fare better than [well-educated, high income] black women” (LA Times 2017, Dominguez 2009, Kozhimannil and Hardeman, 2017). We also know that US-born African Americans and Native/Indigenous communities face the highest disparities in Minnesota (Dept of Human Services).
There are many ways to be a part of this movement, because no matter what your race, class, age, gender presentation or sexual orientation, each of us is diminished by racism in health care and the fact that black and brown babies and mothers die at alarming and unacceptable rates. The mission of health care is to care for all bodies, not the privileged few, and we envision a health system that is more diverse, more sensitive and more responsive to all. As Paul Wellstone famously said, “We all do better, when we all do better.” The disparities in our cities are overwhelming, but we hope this list is not! Feel free to begin with 1 or 2 ideas that resonate most with you, and if any new ideas or projects emerge, please keep the voices of those most impacted by these issues at the center of conversations and decisions.
1. Have an anti-racist perspective:
-Understand the big picture, and that a $50 donation - while this may cover gas for a new doula to get to a birth or keep the lights on for an organization - will do nothing to address equity in the long run. Working to move our organizations, businesses, and programs to an anti-racism perspective will do more. If 58% of babies born in the Twin Cities are born to POC, then any organizations, legislation, insurance contracting, etc that does not center that fact and serve those community members fully is discriminatory. It’s like asking a country club who won’t let Tiger Woods play to give a little donation to the youth project where Tiger honed his skills, but still won’t welcome Tiger to play (and eventually, won’t welcome any of the kids from that youth project to play, despite their skill and potential to add to the cultural and financial wealth of the club).
-Familiarize yourself with ways in which your actions may be harmful, and be open to receiving constructive feedback so that we all can serve our community better. Know that we live in a system that encourages competition, individual gain over collective progress, and cultural disconnection, and that it is easy for ANY of us to slip into unhelpful implicit biases, no matter how much work we’ve done or how progressive we believe we are. -Hold all birthworkers accountable for cultural appropriation or racist behavior.
-Stop gentrifying cultural practices.
2. Press for legislative and policy change:
-Push DHS to fix the broken Medicaid reimbursement system for doula payment
-Allow CPMs as well as CNMs to bill for doula care so that Roots and any midwife can process doula reimbursements
-Equitable health insurance contracts for fair pay across birth centers and neighborhood health centers
-Allow doula training curriculum written by Ahava and other organizations/individuals of color be recognized for MA reimbursement
-Increase reimbursement for PMAP prenatal care
3. Join the front lines by sharing your time & social networks:
-Know when you may not be able to serve a birthing person, and refer. Refer white cisgendered clients who are paying as well to IPOC providers.
-Join the diversity & inclusion CC committee
-Attend a race/class/gender training and find appropriate ways to learn about true allyship, how to understand and share your privilege in ways that do not lean heavily on the time and emotional labor of people of color
-Volunteer to teach a donation-based class or workshop
-Consider volunteering as a board member to help with long term strategic planning and overall support, as well as helping with tasks that just cannot get done.
-Demand clinic and hospitals hire and retain POC generally and specifically African American and Indigenous/Native staff members, L&D Nurses, Midwives and Physicians - the birth community has moved the needle on natural birth, water birth, nitrous oxide, and VBAC access. Demand this as well.
4. Make long-term investments through money & resources:
-Monthly sustaining contributions such as $5 or $50 per month so the organization can plan ahead with long-term committed support. Please note that we are an emerging collective of community volunteers and do not have 501(c)3 status at this time so your contributions are not tax-deductible right now. We have been working to obtain a 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor. If you can recommend a fiscal sponsor/agent, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
-Ask for employer matching contributions or use choice dollars if a Thrivent member
-Participate in Give to the Max Day. Ask your friends, family, and colleagues to join you in allocating funds to organizations run by IPOC or serving/centering IPOC; explain why to raise awareness
-Lump sum contributions with no strings attached, trusting the organization to use it as needed including for rent or electricity (essential things that very few foundations or individuals are willing to fund)
-Contributions to fully cover specific items or projects, such as the training of several POC childbirth educators (only 1 currently, and is a premium paid position, able to take health insurance and does not require being on call), registration of a new doula ($200), or toward training fees and/or living expenses for doulas and student midwives of color
-Pay for an ad campaign, see if you can cover a purchase expense this month
-Host a fundraiser
-Help write proposals for funding
-Are you part of a community moms group or faith community? Invite IBPOC organizations and individuals in to talk about our work and help us find new sustaining donors-Donate new or gently used, clean, and in good condition: furniture, office supplies, or items that clients may need (winter clothes, diapers, etc)