Although 2019's Black Maternal Health Week, an annual campaign spearheaded by the organization Black Mamas Matter, is almost over, these alarming facts about the Black maternal health crisis make it clear that this elevated time of awareness should happen year-round. Between April 11 and April 17, Black Maternal Health Week has ignited a necessary conversation about Black maternal health, aiming to amplify policy and research to improve maternal health care and center the voices of Black mothers and families who have experienced the scares of the nation’s high maternal mortality rate.
An increasing number of women of color have opened up about their eye-opening experiences, such as Serena Williams. When the tennis pro opened up about her traumatic childbirth story that included blood clots, a burst C-section, and dismissive medical care providers in an essay for CNN, her harrowing account shed light on the ongoing crisis of poor maternal health care in the United States that disproportionately affects black women.
Williams' medical staff was not only unprepared despite her known history of clotting, according to her account shared in Vogue, but was also dismissive when she expressed her symptoms and concern about her worsening health. For the world, Williams' subpar treatment highlighted what many women have already experienced first hand: the country’s broken maternal health care system that unfairly treats Black women.
Black Maternal Health Week is meant to tackle this disparity, and even though the week is coming to a close, it is important to carry on the conversation with these facts in mind.