Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attended the 7th International Black Midwives and Healers Conference sponsored by the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC). This was my third time attending the conference and it was wonderful to see how the organization has grown. There is so much I want to share from the conference that I’ve decided to separate it into a couple of posts….
From the ICTC website: The International Center for Traditional Childbearing, Inc. (ICTC) is a non-profit African centered organization located in Portland, Oregon. ICTC was created to promote the health of women and their families and to train Black women aspiring to become midwives. We provide recruitment, education, and support to those desiring to serve their community… We educate and advocate through community workshops, study groups, or just one to one support. ICTC is inclusive in its membership… The early beginnings of the International Center for Traditional Childbearing( ICTC) date back to August 1991. We were then, and are now a grassroots organization, responding to critical health care needs. We are determined that the early death of babies and mothers, an aftermath of slavery and a legacy of poverty, shall be reversed.
Mothering Magazine was present and accounted for at the conference because they realize that while the conference was titled the 7th International Black Midwives and Healers Conference ALL were welcomed to attend and participate. Unfortunately one of their facebook fans was confused and posted a comment about the need for Black Midwives to have a “separate” conference.
From Mistie on facebook: “I’m going to stir the pot here and I *know* I’ll get some “hate” responses, but I don’t care, after all, aren’t we the women to speak out about the things we feel are injustices? … Why do Black Midwives have their own conference? Why are they not Midwives with all the… other women who work together (or are supposed to work together) to bring healing and empowerment to other women? Are these black Midwives excluded from any of the other conferences, forcing them to have their own? All I know is that shouldn’t we all be coming together instead of excluding others or forming racial clicks? I understand the issues that black women have over come in America, it just seems to me that (by a singled out conference such as this) the issues of all other women in America haven’t existed, have been brushed aside… We will never get the support of our nation to stand behind us if we won’t even stand united with each other… ” (read more including responses by visiting Mothering Mag facebook fan page)
Hmmmmm *scratches head in confusion* Quite a number of people responded to her to her question. (None of them included hate BTW) I did not participate in the facebook conversation but I would like to make a statement about it here…
The number one take away that I got from this year’s ICTC conference… WE have an epidemic in OUR community and WE have to save OUR babies. WE have to save OUR sisters. The saving of OUR babies and women has to be a grass roots effort. If WE don’t do it… it won’t happen so WE must take the charge to make it happen. This is one of the reasons we have a “separate” conference.
“Are these black Midwives excluded from any of the other conferences, forcing them to have their own?” No… but there is no other midwifery organization, nor any other conference where the saving of Black Women and Babies is THE focus. Other conferences have great topics about all things midwifery but you would be hard pressed to find a session specifically focused on saving Black women and babies. At the ICTC conference we had not just one session on the topic of saving OUR babies but a few sessions. ICTC realizes the importance of this issue, not just from lip service but in a way that creates an urgency. And please keep in mind… the ICTC conference is NOT exclusive. There were many non-Black women there and we welcome EVERYONES attendance, membership and involvement.
“I understand the issues that black women have over come in America…” I would have to say respectfully, as a white women NO… you can’t REALLY understand the issues that black women have “overcome” nor the issues that CONTINUE to plague our communities, our families, and our perinatal outcomes. This is the reason for the question. If one really understood the issues there would be no need to question the need for a “Black Midwives” conference.
The Black Midwives and Healers Conference was/is always a WONDERFUL experience. In addition to helping us learn about ways to help our community it is about so much more. I love ICTC and the founder Shafia Monroe. I love the
mission of ICTC. I LOVE the sister LOVE I receive whenever I attend the conference. I enjoy being around other midwives of color who are supportive of me and provide me with positive energy to move forward in my passion. I love this conference and the way that it rejuvenates the spirit and the soul in a way that only a midwifery conference can. I love being a part of this circle of women who believe in birth, who believe in women, and who are specially committed to black communities here in America and throughout the Diaspora. I love being a part of this group of women who are committed to supporting, nurturing, mentoring, and providing advice guidance, and love in the spirit of black women, and midwifery. The love is unmistakable, genuine, rejuvenating and life giving.
Yes we go to other midwifery conferences but the experience of being around a group of women who look like me is unmistakable. If you have any doubts… whether you are Black or White, Asian, or Latina, Purple, Green, or Blue… put the ICTC conference on your calendar. Make a point to attend the conference next year. And you will see for yourself… we are NOT exclusive. We are ALL INclusive. We have a special mission and hope that you will join us. More from conference to come… In the meantime…
Be Blessed and Birth Well