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The words "Black History Month" often evoke stories of luminaries like Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. While their legacies will always be crucial to the culture, this year, we're going beyond. Roots, is R29Unbothered's Black History Month series that delves into the tangled history of Black identity, beauty and contributions to the culture. Follow along as we shine light on Black history and Black present throughout February and beyond — because Black history is made every day.
It's the classic American dream — a home surrounded by a white picket fence, and two and a half children. But for many Black women, having a family can be a death sentence.
The United States has the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, and for Black women the numbers are even more troubling. According to the CDC, Black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health. And Black babies are twice as likely to die during infancy than their white counterparts.
While socioeconomic status and access to quality health care and nutritious food can have a substantial effect on both a mother and baby's health, experts say disparities in maternal and infant death rates often reflect broader inequalities. The terrifying stories from women like infamous tennis player Serena Williams, Olympic track and field champion Allyson Felix, and countless other Black women who have more than adequate access to quality healthcare make it clear that high education levels and financial privilege do not protect them from falling victim.
On this episode of Shady, I spent some time trying to get to the bottom of the Black maternal and infant mortality rate in America. I consult experts and speak with men and women affected by this nation-wide crisis. I explore the effects of implicit bias and learn more about how Black women are advocating for themselves to ensure their safety and the safety of their children.