A Commitment to Growth and Healing Around Racism

Dear Birth Community,

Braving Doula Collective has become aware of recent critique from some of our Denver doula colleagues regarding the use of stock images of people of color by all white doula groups. Our group was noted in the conversation.  It has sparked an intense review of our marketing strategies and given us a lot to think about. We are deeply, profoundly affected by this conversation, and are wholeheartedly committed to making changes, showing up for conversations, and following through in our actions.   

We are sorry that our initial approach caused harm to valuable members of the birth community. We hear you and are responding with love and respect.

We recognize that our birth community, our country, our world is built on a legacy of white supremacy and racism. There are clear, measurable racial birth disparities in our country, and we believe, as birth workers, we are tasked with addressing how to better health outcomes and increase equity in our healthcare system.

We know it is not the responsibility of birth workers of color to constantly be checking their white colleagues -- this is on us, white folks.

How can we, as a community of birth workers, do better, across all injustices? Braving Doula Collective unequivocally desires to be a part of the solution and was formed, in part, to address these very issues. We are exploring ways to invite people to the table to continue this conversation and the work that needs to be done.

Right now, being a group of five white doulas, most of whom are queer, we recognize that we often serve people who do not look like us. In our effort to normalize birth, feeding, and reproductive rights of all people we have tried to have everyone represented in our marketing.

We heard the request to not use stock photos of people of color.  We are currently in the process of reviewing our marketing policy, with the input of a diverse group of people.  Until this review is complete, we have removed all stock photos of people of color.

We are committing to using photos of our actual clients who are diverse in background & experience, as much as possible, but as we are a new collective, it will take time to build this part of our marketing approach.

We find ourselves in a place of questioning.

Even though we, ourselves, are white people, we are not the only people who birth babies, feed babies, and parent. How do we represent the real people we have worked with, currently work with, and plan to continue to work with?  

How do we normalize, honor and expand the visibility of all birthing people -- without exploiting those stories for our benefit?  This is the question we are carrying with us as we move forward, and are exploring with our community.

We will continue to learn and grow through consultations with members of our community, like Heather Thompson, who gave us immense support and guidance in our reactions and response to this situation.

We are committed to being more transparent about who we are serving, and at the suggestion of Kayla Frawley, we will keep statistics and post them on our website.

Each individual member of our collective will continue to increase our own awareness of the many subtle ways our white privilege is racist in our everyday personal and professional lives. We will address racism in the world around us, call it out when we see it, and reflect on ways to continue to disrupt the prevalence and pervasiveness of racism in white culture. We each have participated in and will continue to seek out anti-oppression workshops, education, and courageous conversations regarding racism in the birth world.

We recognize that we may not be the best fit for every family, and we will continue to build a referral list that includes doulas who can serve the communities whose identities we do not personally share. Everyone should be able to access a doula who reflects their own experience and identity.

We will celebrate and highlight the work of our peers, doulas of color, and other organizations working to end oppression, violence, and discrimination.

From the very beginning, a founding value of our collective is to be transparent about our advocacy work in addressing racial disparity and gender & sexual orientation invisibility in the birth world. Find out more about our mission, vision and advocacy on our website. We are people who envision and will work tirelessly towards a world that validates and nurtures the humanity in each of us.

With Courage,

 

Braving Doula Collective

 

Eleanor Gray

Mac Brydum

Melita Schwartz

Patience Bleskan

Skylar VanSteemburg