CUNY’s Harlem Health Initiative Sheds Light on Black Maternal Mortality Crisis

By Isseu Diouf Campbell

CUNY’s Harlem Health Initiative organized a thought-provoking event focused on addressing the issue of Black maternal mortality. The event featured a screening of “Toxic: A Black Woman’s Story,” a poignant short film exploring racism, toxic stress, and their impact on birth outcomes. Following the screening, a panel discussion was held on April 11, 2024, in Harlem.

Trinisha Williams, the founder of Midwifery Collective, moderated the panel, which included experienced doulas Donna Downes and Diamond the Doula, Doula coordinator Naima Beckles, and Lead Hospital Coordinator Jacqueline Quiñones. The panelists delved into crucial topics surrounding Black maternal health, sharing valuable insights and perspectives.

This event coincided with Black Maternal Health Week, initiated and spearheaded by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance. Its aim is to raise awareness and drive action towards improving the health outcomes of Black mothers.

The discussion underscored the impact of systemic racism on maternal health, highlighting alarming statistics such as the fact that Black mothers, who account for 72% of pregnancy-associated deaths in New York City, are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts.

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