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We watched in horror the public death of George Floyd, a nightmare compounded by the awful truth that his killing was not an isolated event nor a recent development. Racism has a long and ugly history in our country and Mr. Floyd’s agonizing final moments followed centuries of trauma inflicted upon fellow humans solely because of skin color.

As an agency with a mission to improve the health and well-being of mothers and babies we confront the reality of racism on a daily basis. Black mothers and babies in our country die at disproportionately higher rates than any other population and this holds regardless of the woman’s education or income. Despite major medical advances, greatly improved access to health care, numerous research studies and targeted interventions – we’ve had no significant progress in eliminating racial inequity in birth outcomes. This is not to be expected, as current thinking holds, and will not improve until we address the main drivers of black maternal and infant deaths - racism and implicit bias.

The Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative is engaged in several initiatives to meet the specific and unique needs of black women and their families during pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. Our contribution towards building a more just society is to provide black families the tools and resources to be healthy and thrive. 

As we challenge others to examine their actions and assumptions for implicit bias, we must face the possibility of our own culpability and take a hard look at our own interactions with clients, colleagues and co-workers.

Whether this particular tragedy becomes a watershed moment or just a footnote in a long and shameful saga is ours to determine. We decide the legacy. Will we, collectively and individually, finally confront the systemic racism that plagues our nation and begin the hard work that real change demands? Or, will we devote a few weeks in earnest dialogue and then move onto less challenging matters?

Let us be the change we want to see in the world.

We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. We stand in solidarity with those protesting police brutality. We stand in solidarity with the peacemakers. We stand in solidarity for those seeking justice.

 

Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative

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