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Milwaukee is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin and the home of America's Black Holocaust Museum. Originally settled by German immigrants, Milwaukee became more of a melting pot during subquest immigration waves. Milwaukee's Bronzeville neighborhood, of which ABHM is a part, was originally settled by Germans before becoming the African American Center of the city. The city was well known for manufacturing materials and beer, and local sports teams such as the Brewers still pay homage to those roots.
Currently, Milwaukee has 1.18 more Black or African American residents than any other race. However, racism is often prevalent and is also known as the most segregated city in the country. The economic disparities are especially dire, with Black Milwaukeeans experiencing poverty at five times the rate of their white counterparts. Milwaukee was important in conversations about race during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Milwaukee is more politically liberal than much of Wisconsin, perhaps due to the demographics of its residents. Due to this, some politicians have attempted to influence politics by closing polling places in the city, much like they attempt to control elections by changing polling maps.
Nevertheless, the Black community and culture survive and even thrive in Milwaukee. The city welcomes speakers, organizations, and events that recognize and celebrate Black culture, including an annual weekly celebration of the Bronzeville neighborhood. Mayor Cavalier Johnson is the city's first Black mayor, while the city recently inducted its first Black woman as deputy fire chief.
In follow up to the 2023 Black Birth: Maternal & Infant Health Symposium, join us to connect, hear updates, and engage in a short film and conversation.
What started in 2020 as a series of film and event programs addressing disparities in Black maternal healthcare culminated in the Black Birth Symposium two years later. Curated by Milwaukee Film’s Cultures & Communities program, Black Birth is one of its most significant statewide maternal healthcare events. Established under the continual guidance of community stakeholders, corporate leaders, and healthcare providers, the Black Birth Initiative is a burgeoning network committed to maintaining the social infrastructure necessary to support the ongoing work of local maternal healthcare providers.
By Cara Murez, HealthDay
While preeclampsia and stroke during pregnancy are far more common in Black women in the United States, almost all study of links between these two conditions has been done on white women.
In a new study, researchers worked to better understand the risks.
This included examining 25 years of data involving 59,000 participants in the Black Women’s Health Study.
The researchers found that Black women with a history of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDOP) had about a 66% heightened long-term risk of stroke.
“Our findings could provide a partial explanation for the disproportionately high occurrence of stroke among Black women compared to other populations,” said author Dr. Shanshan Sheehy, an assistant professor of medicine from Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine.
Preeclampsia is a dangerous complication of late pregnancy marked by high blood pressure. Eclampsia is a severe condition that can follow, resulting in seizures.
Preeclampsia affects between 2% and 8% of pregnancies. Among U.S. Black women, the rate of preeclampsia and eclampsia is 60% higher than in white women.
That is seen in numbers of the two conditions, with 70 cases per 1,000 deliveries reported for Black women in 2014 compared to 43 per 1,000 deliveries for white women.
Researchers said there has also been a concerning rise in severe preeclampsia rates among Black women in recent years.
Read the rest of the original article to learn more about the studies conducted by the American Heart Association.
Learn more about the increasing rate of maternal mortality for Black women in this Breaking News article.
Find more Breaking News here.
By Alexa Spencer, Word in Black
Black moms are fighting to return to the empowered, holistic care lost when Black lay midwives were eradicated in the mid-1900s.
Giving birth wasn’t always a medicalized event with unnecessary interventions and fatal or near-death experiences in hospitals. Some 70-odd years ago, Black mothers were nursed at the bedside by well-respected Black midwives.
The caretakers supported their community’s moms through all stages of childbirth — pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum. In a time when EMS and cell phones didn’t exist, some traveled on foot to homes when they “felt” it was time.
But they arrived. Carrying totes packed with tools and minds with a wealth of knowledge pre-dating American chattel slavery.
That system of mother-centered, communal care was destroyed in the mid-1900s when regulations were imposed on the profession. The Grand Midwives, as they’re called, were forced to undergo licensing or leave the work altogether.
Maternal care for Black women hasn’t been the same since. But Black moms are fighting to get back what was lost.
Recently, a Black couple lost their child due to accusations of medical neglect, even though they were working with a midwife.
Nicole Chavez, CNN
A new study found that Black and Latina mothers in the US may have been induced into labor based on the needs of White pregnant women.
A new study by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found that Black and Latina mothers in the US may have been induced into labor based on the needs of White pregnant women and not their own.
The study was based on a sample of 41.1 million single, first births across the country, including 26.4 million of White women, 6.2 million of Black women and 8.4 million Latinas. Data from births among White women was from all 50 states but data from Black and Latina women only included 43 and 47 states, respectively. All groups were represented in Washington, DC, the study says.
When comparing the experiences of Black, Latina and White women in labor, researchers found all the three groups had similar increased rates of induced labor but said the decisions about the women’s care were likely only driven by how White pregnant women were treated.
But there was not a strong link between an increased number of Black and Latina women being induced into labor and the presence of risk factors within their race or ethnic group, the study says.
The study’s authors said their findings may be limited but are consistent with “an extensive literature documenting health care inequity” in the US. The study provides strong evidence that obstetric care “has not been centered on the needs of Black and Latina childbearing populations.”
By Alexa Spencer, Word in Black
Less than 5% of birth centers are owned by Black or Indigenous folks, or other people of color. But that could change as Black midwives and doulas open facilities to help end the maternal and infant mortality crisis.
For years, Jeanine Valrie Logan has dreamt of opening a birth center in Chicago, where she supports families as a certified nurse midwife.
After pushing for legislation to expand Illinois’ birth centers in 2021, she teamed up with local doula Shaquan Dupart to open a facility that can serve a section of the city that is, in some U.S. Census tracts, as much as 99% Black — but which only has four hospitals with maternity wards.
“When people come in the space, [I want] people to realize that they have the knowledge and the technology that they need to achieve their wildest dreams for themselves, for their families, for their children, for their community,” Logan says. “I just want people to come in and kick off their shoes and make some tea and just really feel like they can be at home.”
The midwife-doula duo are bringing Chicago South Side Birth Center (CSSBC) to the city at a time when other medical institutions are bowing out.
“Specifically on the South Side of Chicago, since 2019, four of our community hospitals have closed,” Logan says. “There are many who still don’t accept all insurances.”
While those challenges persist, Black women are about three times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related complications in Illinois.
And in Chicago, one of the most segregated cities in the nation, at 14.8%, the rates for preterm birth are highest among Black infants, compared to 8.2% for white infants.
Logan and Dupart seek to interrupt these trends by establishing a birth center that’s community-centered.
Check out the full article for details.
Our breaking news section covers Black health topics.
By Aria Bendix. NBC News
Babies born to Black mothers are twice as likely to die in the first month than infants born to white women.
But the disparity is even wider among infants conceived through fertility technologies like in vitro fertilization, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Pediatrics.
The researchers analyzed data for all U.S. births involving single babies (not twins) from 2016 to 2017: more than 7.5 million births. Of those, more than 93,000 children were conceived through medically assisted reproduction, such as IVF.
The findings showed that death rates were four times higher among newborns up to 28 days old who were born to Black mothers who used fertility technologies involving eggs or embryos. That death rate was 1.6% among babies born to Black mothers, compared with just 0.3% for babies born to white mothers.
Death rates were twice as high among newborns of Asian, Pacific Islander and Hispanic mothers who used fertility technologies compared with babies born to white mothers.
Find the full article here.
Black mothers often struggle to breastfeed, which can impact infant health.
Check out these Black health and culture stories.
By Aramide A. Tinubu, film critic and entertainment writer
The story of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black boy kidnapped and brutally murdered in Mississippi by two white men before they dumped his body in the Tallahatchie River in 1955, is not new. That level of racist vileness has been experienced by victims who came before and after the bright-eyed Chicago boy’s time, echoing recently in the 2020 murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
Yet, in “Till,” filmmaker Chinonye Chukwu offers viewers a different window into Emmett’s life through the perspective of his poised and graceful mother, Mamie Till-Mobley (Danielle Deadwyler).
Through Deadwyler’s powerful performance, viewers will feel the palpable fear of Black mothers knowing they can never fully protect their Black children in white America. It doesn’t matter how much they teach their children the “right” way to speak or act; keeping Black children safe in this country has often proven to be a game of chance.
The film, which hit theaters Friday, begins in Chicago in the days leading up to Emmett’s (Jalyn Hall) fateful August trip to visit family in Money, Mississippi. Despite the Jim Crow microaggressions of the “liberal North,” Mamie has raised Emmett to see himself as a carefree young boy, not a young man bogged down by the perils of racism. Like most boys, he’s enamored with movie stars and excited by life. For her part, Mamie is nervous.
Finish Tinubu’s opinion piece on NBC.
You can learn more about Emmett through his mother’s book Death of Innocence–and discuss it in our book club!
By Sage Howard, Huff Post
“Nothing about the situation I found myself in aligned with the vision I subscribed to for so long. Part of me felt like I was undoing everything both I and my ancestors had worked for.”
When I was 6 years old, my mother transferred me and my sisters from the predominantly Black public school in our neighborhood to one with a “more diverse” (read: super white) student body in Manhattan. While I wasn’t the only Black girl in my class, I was one of a handful — and I was new, which made me stick out even more. Most of the other Black students attended the school since kindergarten and had already adjusted to an environment structured around values set by white educators and parents.
It was there that I remember my earliest experience with racial microaggressions. For one, classmates laughed at me because I referred to the teacher as “Ms.” — a sign of respect at my previous school — instead of calling her by her first name, which was the norm at this one. Being thrust into this setting made me hyper-aware that I was an outsider, creating an unsettling sensation in my chest that I now know to be anxiety.
There’s a feeling that many people of color learn to live with when they find that they occupy a space that was not intended for them. It’s an aching desire to crawl into oneself and hide. As a little girl, I didn’t have the words for it. My parents knew the feeling but didn’t appear to have the words either. They insisted that my sisters and I would be OK because the school mirrored a society we’d soon be thrown into and expected to succeed in as adults.
I grew up in a household where our American Dream was “Black excellence.” On the surface, Black excellence is simply the celebration of the success of a Black person. At its root, however, it measures a person’s ability to attain mainstream white standards of success despite facing constant adversity. As I understand it now, Black excellence means adhering to respectability politics, a deceptive vehicle that measures my worth by standards set by white men.
Discover more about the respectability politics that Black Americans must deal with.
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By Angela Johnson, The Root
Lack of support from employers and the healthcare system leaves many Black mothers dependent on formula
Since February, the country has experienced a shortage in infant formula prompted by the FDA shut down a Michigan plant due to a recall of three brands of powdered formula. Families across the country have struggled to find formula in their local stores as the federal government desperately tries to import stock from overseas. And while some have questioned why these struggling mothers just don’t breastfeed their babies, they are overlooking many of the structural barriers that make it more difficult for many mothers of color to do so.
It’s true that breastfeeding has tremendous benefits for mothers and babies. As the CDC notes, it’s the best source of nutrition because mother’s milk changes to meet a baby’s nutritional needs as they grow. It also allows mothers to share antibodies with their babies that protect them from various illnesses. Breastfeeding can also help reduce a mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. But Black mothers are still less likely to breastfeed their babies than any other racial group.
The CDC reports that just over 75 percent of Black infants are ever breastfed compared with 85 percent of whites. As the months go on, the numbers go down significantly. According to the CDC, 20 percent of Black women breastfeed exclusively through the first six months, compared to 29 percent of white women. And when a mother doesn’t breastfeed, her milk supply quickly begins to decrease, leaving her to depend on formula.
Much of this disparity is due to a lack of support from employers and the country’s healthcare system, which overwhelmingly pushes Black mothers to formula. According to data, most Black mothers return to work just eight weeks after they give birth, which is earlier than other racial groups. And when they return, they’re less likely to receive the support they need from their employers, including break time and a private space to nurse.
Head over to Johnson’s original article to read more about racism in medicine.
Follow our breaking news page for more thoughtful analysis and coverage of issues impacting Black Americans.
By Erika Dubose, The Black Wall Street Times
A nationwide baby formula shortage is wreaking havoc on Black parents and babies, who are disproportionately impacted by the lack of access to the necessary nutrients to grow and thrive.
With shelves across the country running low baby formula, some stores are rationing. In fact, five states are at critically low levels of infant formula.
[…] And Black families are hit the hardest. Formula is very expensive, with a yearly estimated cost between $1200 and $1500. Many Black families are more likely to work poverty-level jobs, according to Economic Policy Institute.
[…] While some women are able to breastfeed their infants, Black women have much lower rates of initiating breastfeeding and maintaining a milk supply as they’re more likely to face barriers to breastfeeding. They include: “lack of knowledge about breastfeeding; lack of peer, family, and social support,” among other reasons, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control.
Check out the original article to learn how the formula shortage impacts Black families.
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