Breathe Easy, You've Found Me ((HUGS))

People will wonder why this blog is needed, why minority midwifery student? It's very simple actually; I was looking for this blog...but I couldn't find it...so I created it. We all have unique experiences, and every experience, every story, can help someone else. I am a black girl from the hood at an ivy league professional school. That, alone, is reason enough to write. Somebody was looking for this blog. Someone wanted proof that what I'm doing can be done - even when you come from where we come from.

To that person especially, WELCOME.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Tying Up Loose Ends

Just a hodge podge of all what's flying through my mind...trying to organize thoughts, check boxes marked as "return to," fill in empty spaces, and answer a few questions before I dive deeper back into my head (and hopefully the page)...

[::] There's been discussion going on in the comments section of this post. You should read it. I think what just happened was that moment when you get right up on something...but then stop because of the blow up that might occur afterwards...even though the blowup is what moves people (some people) toward growth. I've been thinking about why I didn't respond with as much enthusiasm/anger/frustration/energy on the page/in the comments as I did in the house as I was discussing it all with the man. He said, "why didn't you write that?" Meaning, what I said, in the way that I said it, to him. Great question. I don't have a good answer, except that maybe that moment was coming, full steam, where I was going to "go off" and then there would be aftermath. Ironically, I had just said that I wasn't afraid of confrontation. Hm. I don't think I am afraid of confrontation...at least not in person I'm not, so what's going on? Maybe it's about not wanting to feel like I have to defend myself on this blog because I do that so often everywhere else. It's also because I can obviously talk much faster than I can type, and while bouncing all of this off of the man, I am able to flush out what the hell I'm thinking because his questions come in real time, not the next day...and I'm just tired of explaining to others. Especially when they don't wanna hear/understand it enough to go do their own thinking about it. But when the dialog is honest, I love the interaction. There was one thing I wanted to respond to though, and that's whether I always bring it (whatever it is) back to race when talking or asking a question in class. The short answer is NO because, believe it or not, I rarely speak in class...I don't have the patience for it. But when people ask my opinion, I give it to them. And I try not to hold back. A lot of times that opinion includes race, how could it not? Ask a stay at home mother to never talk about their children, a midwife to not talk about birth, a CEO to not talk about money, a volunteer to not talk about purpose. Almost impossible, why? Because it's part of their identity. I'm walking around in this skin. It's part of me. How do I...why would I, walk, talk, and act as though it's not? Furthermore, in class, when I have the energy, why say what everyone else is saying? I know you want to talk about eating right...but when I mention the cost of eating right in my neighborhood, how do I do that without the lens of race when your next question is "why is what is sold in your grocery store different than what's in my grocery story?" I can try to explain that without saying because my life/my needs/my health is not valued as much as yours is....but then you ask "why not?" Why in the hell am I supposed to refrain from saying because I'm black and therefore devalued and not worth meat that doesn't say "use or freeze by (today's date.)" What you want is for me to avoid talking about race because it makes you uncomfortable. Fuck what is happening to me, let's make it easy for you.


NO.


Or, you want me to stay focused on the fact that there are poor white people, poor people of every color, and so let's just talk about poor people in general...not poor black people specifically. Or that those in Africa are even poorer than we are here in America. I'll leave it to you to talk about poor white people...in my community there were very few poor white people. Maybe I should talk about that one day, because I know that people who grow up in places that are "diverse" are sometimes shocked that in other parts of the country segregation is still very much alive and functioning. But I also refuse because even poor white people have the protection (although I should think of something else to call it) of white privilege, and therefore, even if we eat the same thing, go to the same community centers, or frequent the same theaters....when the police arrive, we are not just poor people....we are black people and white people, and when you reach for your wallet to prove your identity, they aren't going to shoot you, but me? Maybe 42 times.

moving on.

[::] A while ago I mentioned that I was blogsided by a dean at the university. I never emailed her back. But she approached me one day and we ended up talking about it. She wanted to know so that they could use one of the posts during black history month. I told her she could use whatever she wanted...anonymously. She then told me that she had already told the lady who's coordinating the events that she thought the blog belonged to me, and that the lady is supposed to contact me. I told her that when she does, I will deny being the blog's owner because for now I wish to remain anonymous. I also asked her if there was any chance that she could forget that she found me....she laughed.

[::] I mentioned yesterday that someone tried to dissuade me from getting a PhD. I understand. My best friend just had this conversation with me before I left home last year. (Hi H!) And I get where it comes from. Believe me I think about it. I even think about it in terms of the impact that it will have on my understanding of my community...the longer you're away, the farther removed you become...but I also believe that you can take the girl outta the hood, but you can't take the hood outta the girl, so there's hope ;o) What it comes down to for me is that while I think there's a good chance that I would regret not getting one, I know I will not regret getting it. I also know that it's now-ish or never. It takes something to be in school, and once I leave I never want to come back. I don't mean that I don't want to learn anything else, just that I want to learn it on my own terms. I'm also ready to have kids, yes, that means I made a decision to have children, and that they are welcome at any time from now, this moment, to 2012ish. This was a monumental decision in our household ;o) Grad school would be as good a time as any to have them. What meeting with the current nursing PhD student did do for me was get me thinking about a different kind of PhD. That is, to expand my thinking from only earning a PhD in nursing, to considering public health, social policy, sociology, anthropology, etc. I wanted a nursing PhD because I feel like nursing needs more people to bring interdisciplinary ideas to it, but I am also ADAMANT that my PhD is about *me* as much as it is about funding and other people's ideas, so that's something I've been looking into. It's exciting to have the opportunities opened up a little in my mind.

[::] Midwife-to-be asked, in the comments, about doing a study on why more women of color don't have children at home [in this country] and whether it would be offensive (in my opinion) if a white woman were to conduct such a study and whether it would be useful. The short answer is *I* don't think it would be offensive, but do you? Why or why not? Yes, it's irritating to me, that we're always being researched on by others because there aren't enough of us to go around, and it doesn't seem like there's a real push to change this...but offensive is probably a stretch. (And there's the fact that those who are available simply might not be interested in doing this work, and you are...) Compassion, honesty with yourself and the women, awareness about their lives, clear expectations about what they should expect/might get/not get out of it...etc are what I suggest you proceed with....anyone else want to weigh in on this?

[::] Lastly, I want to set something straight: I never said that midwives should never work outside their race and class. What I suggested was a withdrawal of care to see what the community itself would/could come up with. I ALSO said that if one considers herself a member of said community, then I don't expect them to withdraw. I said I do not want to be served by providers to felt like it was their obligation to bring me the care, without considering teaching me how to care for myself so that I wouldn't be dependent on them. I also clarified that this was about me and my community, and that what I wanted was more midwives of color from communities like mine available to provide care. It is not that I do not believe white women should provide care to black women, and it's so sad to see it reduced down to that by others. But what I do believe is that a black impoverished community could benefit from black midwives who come from their environments. I stand by what I said then, and now, 100%.

6 comments:

starchild said...

great post! I also wet and read the other one, and the comments. I just wanted to say that I read your blog sometimes and I appreciate hearing your stories, and I can also relate. Your school experience now sounds like damn near every black woman's I know who didn't go to an HBCU's experience of education from undergrad up. including mine. If anyone is doing a study, it should be on exactly what you talked about in another post-the impact of stress from racism on people of color--and add in the part about being a woman of color in higher ed.

I don't have much else to add except a bunch of "umm hmmm"s to this. I definitely have appreciated being able to see health care providers of all kinds who look like me and my family and community, at the very least, whether they actually come from it. There's a comfort in that.

peace

Dark Daughta said...

Beauty.

I know you wrote that you don't think your fingers can keep up with your mind.

Well, if this is whatchu got when they don't (?) I'm waiting with bated breath for when they do. ;)

There's so much here.

One thing that immediately comes to mind is how dangerous to your chosen profession this blog is for you as a Black woman.

I admire the way you're attempting to blog on thru being blogsided by one of your deans.

I also think that despite being understood as radical when placed alongside the work of OBgyns, it's clear that in some ways, especially as related to some issues (race and heterocentricity) midwives as a collective obviously seem to be walking a narrow line where it becomes necessary to watch your p's and q's if you want to be able to work.

I think your blog stands in stark opposition to this.

I'm excited for you, even as the frustration you must be feeling is so clear.

I'm remembering when my brain started setting off these rampant fire crackers in university. Completely independent of me and of what I had been taught, my eyes started seeing things and my brain started beaming these messages.

And once that started happening there was no controlling my mouth or my fingertips for that matter.

There was no going back if I was going to be true to myself, if I was going to experience my own self, my perceptions, my beliefs as authentic.

It effected my relationship to school...so much so that attending ended up seeming like a profound joke.

I have one degree. I won't be going back. My conversations with academics, my observations of those who write politics in the same areas I cover, the ways their experiences inside academia restrict and control what they can see, what they can think, what they can speak, what they can write, what they can believe...
Well, let's just say that I don't need to pay the university complex any more money just so's I can continue writing circles around them and their ideas. :)

I've taught some of them formally and informally. Sad.

But your work is different. I think the internal conversations you seem to be having here about whether you want to do direct care in the form of midwifery or whether you want to get into policy...
I think that regardless of what your answers end up looking like, you will be an asset. As long as you keep being a question in the flesh walking in that skin in the corridors of the academy, I think you'll be doing the work of change.

I appreciate reading the ways you keep on attempting to engage with other blogging midwives. I appreciate your candor.

Loving Pecola said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loving Pecola said...

damn. I was here when this message popped up...that was weird, never happened before...so, I haven't read it yet, but thanks!

ETA: Thanks as always for stoppipng through, and for the encourgaement.

"the ways their experiences inside academia restrict and control what they can see, what they can think, what they can speak, what they can write, what they can believe..."

Yes, yes, yes. This is so true. This is what I'm trying so hard to fight...the theft and subsequent control of one's mind and actions to fit into this narrowly defined way of academic knowing. And "profound joke"...I think I've heard it called exactly that before...

Ashley said...

Thank you. And congrats on the baby making, have lots of fun practicing. I will keep y'all in my prayers.

that big girl said...

Hey! I've been reading, reading, reading, but not taking the time to comment or blog myself lately. Just wanted to say that I'm listening.

Thought that this might be of interest - it's a lecture that's available as a webcast/satellite link. http://www.minority.unc.edu/sph/minconf/2008/webcast/