Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Response to Denise Bolds' Spinning While Black blog post

Denise Bolds, Bold Doula was a welcome participant at our recent Spinning Babies 2016 World Confluence and wrote a blog about the whiteness of the conference and trainers. Her title, Spinning While Black is a play on her series, Birthing While Black. 


                                                                                                     2 October, 2016

                                                                                         
Dear Denise,
I so enjoyed your presence at our conference. You contributed to the richness of the overall experience. May I say here how grateful I am that you hopped on a plane to come?

I called and invited you to blog for the Spinning Babies 2016 World Confluence and I asked you to share your perspective and not to be held to a promotional approach. Birth organizations arising out of the white culture often have little representation of other cultures. Spinning Babies can also do better.

I want to honor the birth and body workers of Color who have crossed cultural lines to attend Spinning Babies Workshops. I wasn’t just giving them something but each individual brought value themselves.

Fortunately, I can say that many African American Birth and Body Workers have shared enthusiasm, attended and used Spinning Babies to enhance their own creative birth solutions. I confidently stand by my efforts to invite and respect the African American birthing community.

Let’s review my actions. I have enough sense to know questions about African American involvement in white culture cannot be answered by a white person.

Our Speakers, Ms. Claudia Booker and Ms. Akhmiri Sekhr-Ra, and two invited speakers, Shafia Monroe and Nikki Plaskett, whose lives took other courses and they were unable to attend but whose initial affirmation offered much hope and direction in creating a safe place for Birth Workers of Colors at the conference. I am humbled and honored. I worked closely with Ms. Claudia Booker, Master of Education, and Grand Challenge organizer, to offer an open and meaningful scholarship.  
I called and invited Birth Workers of Color locally and nationally.  

Seven African American leaders in the birth world hosted Spinning Babies Workshops. I spoke with them about becoming a Spinning Babies Approved Trainer. Five were possible candidates for the 2015 pilot group and two, as midwives with interest, had a very real potential, but found the expense and time away from successful birth businesses to be obstacles.

Perhaps a note of interest to your readers is that Rebecca Polston, owner of Roots Community Birth Center, whom you mention in your post, Denise, consulted with us about the conference scholarship process. To share a bit of personal and community history, Rebecca attended prenatal appointments in my home for approximately a year during her student days with her preceptor, worked with me on The Resolving Shoulder Dystocia video, and refers parents to me when there are persisting questions of breech fetal positioning. She let me know she wasn’t coming to the conference but was able to stop in at the party. She greeted me warmly the next weekend at the Birth and Baby Expo in our Twin Cities.


Claudia Booker is my dear friend. In the US public health crisis of neonatal mortality and prematurity brought on by the stress of racism, she is my wise advisor. I am grateful for her involvement in this conference and in the next. She gave two dynamic talks and shaped the scholarship acceptance process and questionnaire. Our trust in one another is immense. 

What will Spinning Babies do to address inequities now?
An equity statement is in process.

CNM, LaVonne Moore, active in both the Minnesota Cultural Birthworkers and Cultural Wellness Center, has invited me to come be with this amazing group for a local Spinning Babies Workshop.

Plans for formalizing scholarship spots throughout the organization are in place. I have offered spots in my workshops since 1997.

Two things I would ask to mention here, Denise, is first I am grateful that participants from Mexico, Central America, and South America as well as Americans of Hispanic and Latina heritage, which were self-identifications offered in conversation. Some came expressly to be with Angelina Martinez Miranda. And second, a gift of great magnitude was the presence of five Native attendees and Akhmiri Skehr-Ra’s teaching partner, Millicent Simenson.

Native babies die at rates multiplying those of any other race in the US and Canada. Pat Welch, founder of The Turtle Women said Native Peoples suffer an invisible genocide. That year, of every 1000 babies born, Minnesota whites lost 4, African Americans 9, and Native families lost 29 babies, out of every 1000. Please know in our descriptions of racial inequities, we will not brush off the 9 by remembering the 29.

My gratitude to you, Denise Bolds begins with your Bold stance. I’m also grateful for the presence and care of Tomesha Walker (not a relative of Denise’s, nor of Jennifer Walker’s), a self-acclaimed supporter like so many of your readers.  Claudia, Akhmiri, Tomesha and yourself are empowering African American birthing women with Spinning Babies. That you would have Spinning Babies in mind while giving your lives to overcoming disparities and inequities of maternity care in this country is humbling and empowering to me personally.

Let us engage in a process to find how Birth and Body Workers of Color can extract value from Spinning Babies in ways that sustain integrity for their personal and cultural lives.


With Much Hope For Continued Dialogue,

Gail Tully

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