What Would a Doula Do?
“There are two great days in a person's life - the day we are born and the day we discover why.” — William Barclay
At The Woke Coach, our goal is to help clients become the best, most understanding, and empathetic version of themselves around issues of racism, bias, injustice, and allyship. We do this work in many ways, but know that lifelong shifts in behavior happen one interaction at a time.
Recently, we had the opportunity to share space and conduct a workshop (From Ally to Accomplice: Understanding and Unpacking White Privilege) with a group of white-identified doulas. These folks are trained companions who support women through childbirth, miscarriage, induced abortion, or stillbirth. In their work, they have the opportunity to partner with women during the most meaningful and magical—or sometimes most difficult—times in their lives.
If you have any knowledge about the history of people of color—particularly Black people—with the healthcare industry, you know that racism and bias in the healthcare industry is prevalent. To that end, these doulas work in the shadow of a some pretty alarming facts:
Each year, 50,000 women in America suffer dangerous and even life-threatening complications during childbirth.
Black women in the United States are facing a childbirth mortality crisis. They are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.
Slightly more than half of all babies born in the United States today are a racial or ethnic minority—a threshold first crossed in 2015.
The overall rate of pregnancy-related deaths has climbed over the past two decades, making the maternal mortality rate in the United States the worst in any industrialized country.
Our workshop focused on naming and unpacking whiteness and discussing the concept of white privilege. The objective was to help them have a clear understanding of what white privilege is and how it can adversely impact the manner in which they show up in the world and engage with others.
At the conclusion of our session, the participants crowdsourced several concrete actions to employ in their work and their personal lives upon leaving the space.
Here’s what they had to offer. Please feel free to participate in any of the actions below that will enhance your allyship journey.
Call in family members and colleagues each time you hear or observe them saying something racist or behaving in a racist manner.
Review the tenants of active listening and employ them more consistently.
Remain in the discomfort. Stay in the space. Listen and ask questions. Build trust.
Speak up more. Recognize that if you are a white person the consequences are minor.
Speak up even when the consequences are not minor (loss of relationship, income, opportunities, etc.)
Amplify the voices of mothers and participate in outreach with providers.
Deepen your analysis through reading. A few book recommendations include: Being Black Living in the Red by Dalton Conley; Why are All of the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum; Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America by Jennifer Harvey; The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, and White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo.
Examine your personal relationships with people with positional power. Who do you know? What influence do they have? How can you help them use their powers for good?
Consider whether you are treating your colleagues of color the same as your white colleagues.
Support POC businesses.
At The Woke Coach, we understand that the work of allyship is life-long and ongoing. We are each responsible for our part in that work. If you are struggling to figure our how to get engaged or continue your engagement, contact us. We can help!
Founder + CEO
The Woke Coach, LLC