When it came down to it, I just couldn’t stand the fact that it would take more than five minutes of googling to find a beautiful image of a brown-skinned pregnant person on a good-looking birth education flyer/poster/print-out/anything. And it didn’t just take five minutes — long after five minutes had passed, I gave up on the search. I frowned. Fumed a little. Sat back. And then I started to sketch. Before I tell you about The Educated Birth, let me tell you a little more about me.
I started my Doula journey in early 2016. For three years I had been working for a nonprofit I loved (and still do). I’d spent all that time and more as one of the few people of color working at this beautiful, community-driven, visionary nonprofit that mostly served the young Black people of this mostly Black (and quickly gentrifying) neighborhood in Richmond, VA. I had spent all these years studying the impact that racism and economic injustice — on both personal and structural levels — had had on my city, the young people we worked with, and the work we did day to day.
I was struggling to figure out where my creativity fit in the world of meaningful work that I wanted to contribute to. I was struggling to balance my desire to do hands-on educational work (that let me actually get to know the kids we worked with) with all the administrative work I needed to do. I was struggling to figure out exactly where/how I fit as a young light-skin Black woman at this mostly white organization. My challenges, my privileges, what I could say, what I couldn’t, how I could push, how pushing pushed me back. I wanted to use my creativity. I wanted to have a meaningful, caring, educational role in peoples’ lives (like others had had in mine). I wanted a break from spaces dominated by White/American culture — however well-intentioned and sincere this place was —I was still struggling, still just tired. Tired of being the “only one” or “one of the few left.”
When I entered the birth world, I saw a lot of the same things that disappointed me when I began my nonprofit communications and marketing role. The first thing that struck me was that Black people seemed mostly invisible, except in the conversation of how terrible it was to be a Black woman birthing. The truth is the truth. To say that yes, this is the challenge, this is the obstacle, this is the problem we have to deal with — that’s one thing. And an important, necessary thing. But the truth is always larger than one story. When all you’re ever hearing about a group of people is the problem(s) they have — “problem” is their story.