As I sit and read about how women were used as slaves and as medical subjects in the 1800’s. It burns my soul, I read about Betsy, Lucy and Anarcha and other women that were forced to work as slaves after experimental operations, these same women used as nurses in the hospital of the so called father of gynecology, who I personally think of as a mad scientist. Dr James Marion Sims. These Black Women, mothers themselves cared for his family by cooking and cleaning , fetching water, gathering wood, nursing the babies of this monster all while undergoing unmedicated surgical procedures. These women were on the frontline, they learned gynecology first hand , Lucy, Betsy and Anarcha knew more about gynecology ( a new field in the 1800’s) than most American Doctors at that time.
This all brings me to our current reality, The genocide that is happening right here in our Country to Black Women. Black Women are dying 4x more than white Women. Because of this, I see so many women answering the call to help, becoming advocates of Birth Justice, Doulas and studying to be midwives. It’s so beautifully amazing how Black Women love on other Black Women. Within a blink of the eye my thought pattern quickly changes. I’m reminded of my journey, I’m reminded of Lucy and Betsy. I’m reminded how easily others capitalize off the hard work of Black Women. The expensive trainings, the hours of studying, the late night conversations with nervous mamas, the hours of labor support and the hours after, the hours where we release from the traumatic racism we endure each time we enter those spaces as Doulas of Color, all to be told we should volunteer our services.
Is it to much to ask for history to not repeat itself year after year? Is it to much to ask to not have to make a sacrifice of self to help those in my community stay alive? I’m not Lucy, I couldn’t imagine the trauma she experienced being a slave let alone being operated on with no anesthesia. The thoughts that swarmed her mind about freedom, and death, all while taking care of her own family and the family of her master. My vision is clearer now after answering the call, I see how businesses and organizations, have used black people as “volunteers “ for years in the community and are aware of the sacrifices we continue to make, but care non the less about the hours away from our families, the money we spend, the time and dedication put in to serve our sisters and brothers , all out of love for our people. While they sit and receive grant after grant, funding and donations, check after check with no compensation to those that are on the front lines.
Are you really helping the community if you are taking from it? If you take resources and time away from a “volunteer “ instead of compensating them for their time, are you feeding their children or taking from them? If the answer is yes what tools are you using to measure your success?
Stop making Black Women and Men a Martyr for our own freedom. We cannot enjoy freedom in death.