“There is nothing as heart-wrenching as seeing your child unconscious — connected to instruments that can only say she is dying but cannot save her — unable to open her eyes, to tell you she loves you one more time,” Wanda recalls.

After her daughter’s fatal collapse, Wanda learned that complications from hypertension had led to cardiac arrest. Hypertension and preeclampsia are two of the leading causes of maternal deaths, and studies have shown that these chronic conditions can result from the psychological stress created by systemic and societal racism.

In April, the same week the CDC declared racism a threat to public health, President Biden signed a first-ever proclamation marking Black Maternal Health Week. The administration’s initial early executive orders on reproductive rights and its repeal of Trump-era policies are a starting point in addressing the impacts of racial disparities in maternal health outcomes. However, more-holistic approaches to maternal health inequities are needed to address the many ways that societal and systemic racism shape the experiences of Black birthers and the medical care they receive. Black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to die because of complications in childbirth.”

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