Reporting back from Anarcha, Lucy, Betsey Conference

It was a real privilege to attend this conference and to be able to take in all that the presenters and crowd had to share. It felt warm, welcoming, grounded, and filled with the strenght of women and folks from the past and present who resisted and created and loved despite the worst systems playing against them.

This conference was a master class in linking the history and the state of current affairs, opening pathways for actions. Presenters talked about maternal mortality, forced strerilizations, incarceration and birth, racism in health care and discriminations. But also about those who create birthhouses. And community support. And doula programs in jails. Those who advocate for Black women health outside and inside traditionnally white health institutions.

There was space for rage, grieving, pain, elation, admiration and determination. It was a place to listen and learn and be humbled in front of people who are doing the work and finding solutions and saving lives while institutions are just starting to realize that racism in healthcare is a thing and has dire consequences.

The more up campus

The mastermind behind this conference is Michelle Browder, artist and activist. The More Up Campus project seeks to participate in the reckoning around race by finding creative ways to honor the voiceless, the minimized, the ignored. The erection of the “Mothers of Gynecology” monument honors the sacrifice of Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey, the enslaved experimental subjects of the so-called “father of gynecology,” J. Marion Sims. The second phase of the project is the opening of The Mothers of Gynecology Health and Wellness Museum and Clinic.

Sculpture by Michelle Browder

SEX-ED + contribution

Gynecology has built itself on abuse and gynecological violence is still an everyday occurence. SEX-ED + wants to play a part in bettering care and created to this end a gynecological exam model to train professionals and empower patients with a vagina. It’s still on the prototype phase, but it was really important that the first model would be gifted to the clinic of the Mothers of gynecology. It is a retribution, a hommage and a thank you.

Prototype model for gynecological exam training

Ressources you may want to have a look at

  •  Book “Under the skin: the hidden toll of racism on american lives and on the health of our Nation” by Linda Villarosa, journalist, author, editor, novelist and educator.
  • The 1619 Project “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States’ national narrative.” An initiative by Nikole Hannah-Jones, investigative reporter who covers civil rights and racial injustice in the New York Times magazine.
  • Book and archives : Say Anarcha: A Young Woman, a Devious Surgeon, and the Harrowing Birth of Modern Women’s Health. Author: JC Hallman.  Available for purchase in June 2023.
  • Evidence based birth helps birth workers build the evidence based knowledge, skills, and power they need to protect families’ abilities to give birth with empowerment. Their mission-based programs provide education on research, mentorship in how to navigate a broken health care system, and the confidence to be a change agent working for anti-racist and inclusive health care.

Projects you may want to support

  • The Birth Sanctuary Gainesville is bringing safe + supported pregnancy care, labor, and birth services back where they’re needed most. A project impulsed by Dr Stephanie Mitchell.
  • 4Kira4moms fight for improved maternal outcomes through advocacy and coalition building, educate the public about the impact of maternal mortality in communities, provide peer support to victim’s families, and promote the idea that maternal mortality should be viewed, and discussed as a human rights issue. A project impulsed by Charles Johnson, who lost his wife, Kira, during childbirth in 2016.
  • Uzazi Village, is a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating health outcomes disparities in perinatal health in African American communities. Uzazi village follows a model of Afro-centric healthcare and is impulsed by Hakima Tafunzi Payne. 
  • Inspired by the word Ostara, with origins in the celebration of spring and regrowth, Ostara Initiative is the mother organization for both prison doula projects, as well as two new programs aimed at growing representative leadership and reversing the mass incarceration of mothers in America.

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