Hakima Payne, Uzazi Village | Juneteenth Q&A
Birth justice and Black joy are central to quality, respectful and equitable maternity care. This Juneteenth, meet four incredible community leaders in maternal health and read how they conceptualize the moment.
For more than a decade, Every Mother Counts has supported leaders in the U.S. who are uplifting birth justice, which not only includes eliminating racial disparities in maternal health, but also fostering Black joy in the lives and maternity care experiences of Black mothers and birthing people in their communities. Birthmark Doula Collective, Shades of Blue Project, Uzazi Village and Roots Community Birth Center exemplify the community and human-centered approach to Black maternal health that is sorely lacking in the U.S. health care system.
Please introduce yourself, your organization, and why you’ve dedicated yourself to this work.
My name is Hakima Payne. I am the founder and CEO of Uzazi Village in Kansas City, MO. Our mission is to center Black and Brown families in maternal and infant health. Too often our families are left behind, forgotten and ignored. We are here to change that. When it comes to perinatal care and policy, our families come first. We move and work towards Black Liberation and antiracism in maternity care- to ensure health equity and equality.
From the perspective of a Black maternal health advocate and/or care provider, what significance does Juneteenth hold to you?
Juneteenth should be celebrated as our ‘freedom day’. In so many ways African-Americans are still waiting for the reality of the ‘American Dream’ where we are treated as equal citizens under the law. Juneteenth is an opportunity to celebrate how we have thrived under unbearable and oppressive systems.
From 2021 to future generations, how do you envision birth justice in action?
I envision birth justice as access to quality, culturally congruent care that is antiracist and demonstrates value of Black life and culture.
What does centering Black joy in all four trimesters of pregnancy look like? Why is it so important to do so in your experience?
Black joy is personified in self-determination and autonomy, adequate resources that all childbearing families need (including mental health resources), and a general celebration of the reproduction of Black peoples. Pregnancy in Black bodies is simply not valued, celebrated or universally welcomed by healthcare providers.
How do you and your organization’s team combat inequities in maternity care that affect Black birthing people?
We create our own culturally specific systems to bypass white supremacist, racist and capitalist systems.
How can EMC’s community learn even more about your work?
Visit us at www.uzazivillage.org. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Photo Credit: Catcall, Travis Young