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Recap of “Facing Hard Numbers and Harder Conversations: Black Women’s Maternal Health”

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

By Hamdy Inusah

This week we hosted our third, 2020–2021 panel series based on our blog series, “Listening and Learning: Systemic Racism, Racial and Sexual Disparities in Women’s Health.”

In this event recap, we want to share with you a few key quotes and moments from the event. We also encourage you to watch the full discussion on our YouTube channel.


Our first panelist was Arielle Hutchinson, a Duke University undergraduate student, and author of our blog that inspired this event, “Moving Beyond the Movement.” Arielle discussed the “hard numbers” of the Black Matenral Health Crisis, and shared stories she learned from her mom, who worked in a hospital setting. Below are some of the impactful quotes and moments Arielle shared during the event.

Arielle presenting on the “Hard Numbers” of the Black Maternal Heath Crisis

“The doctors made the decision to cut her [a woman in labor] open without anesthesia. Her screams echoed throughout the OR, and to this day my mom’s colleagues still have nightmares about those screams. I can’t help but wonder if they still would have cut her open without anesthesia if she was white.”

“Black women with college degrees suffer worse outcomes than white women without high school diplomas. Maternal mortality doesn’t care how educated you are, how much money you have, or how much access to health care you have. It just cares that you’re Black.”

“Black women are only 13% of the female population, and yet they account for 40% of the maternal deaths in this country. The United States has the highest number of maternal deaths among similarly developed countries, despite the fact that the CDC says at least 60% of these deaths are preventable. We have to wonder why.”


Our second panelist was Maya Jackson, a trained doula and Founder and Executive Director of MAAME, Inc. (Mobilizing African American Mothers through Empowerment). Maya shared about her experience as a doula as well as the way her organization is fighting inequities in the local community. Below are some of the impactful quotes and moments Maya shared during the event.

Maya showcasing MAAME, Inc.’s offerings

“After giving birth, I heard this gush come from my body. All I could think was to hit the nurse call button and say, ‘I think I had an accident.’ She came in and said, ‘Oh my gosh! I forgot to massage your uterus,’ as if it wasn’t a big deal, but I was actually bleeding out. That was the first sign for me to realize there’s something wrong with the system.”

“We teach women [at MAAME] to advocate for themselves in medical spaces and/or any room where you feel you need a voice.”

[On her experience as a doula] “To be in a room supporting another woman of color was a powerful, powerful, powerful experience. We definitely felt out ancestors in that space, and we were able to make that space very sacred.”


After our presenters shared, we moved into a live Q&A and shared some additional resources for continued learning (pictured). We will continue to address the questions that we didn’t get to during the event on our social media, so make sure you keep an eye out!

GWHT shared additional resources for continued learning


We are thankful to our panelists and everyone that attended the panel live or has watched it on YouTube! Make sure you follow GWHT on social media or subscribe to our newsletter to stay in-the-know about upcoming events.



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