As a birth advocate and reproductive justice activist, I never imagined myself telling this particular story. Despite my knowledge about reproductive health disparities, my family’s participation in the birth equity work, our comprehensive preparation for the birth of my grandson and the vast network of support that we had from the community, Shamony still passed away due to complications associated with giving birth. Shamony became one of the black and brown women that we had read and heard about. She died after doing one of the most natural things that a woman can do; give birth.
In the past few years, Black Maternal Mortality has become a “hot button” topic. There has been research, news reports, focus groups, community forums etc. addressing the issue. However, despite all of the statistical data, the conferences, the conversations and the outrage, black and brown women are still having near death experiences or dying giving birth.
Needless to say, the loss of our beloved Shamony has been devastating and the ripple effect of her passing can be felt throughout our community and across the nation. Shamony is the daughter who was lost. Her sister Jasmine, is the daughter who is mourning, and my granddaughter, Anari is the daughter who has been left without the covering of her mother’s love. It is the AFTERSHOCK of her death that has amplified my voice, her life partner’s voice and the voices of our community. We realize that we must say more, do more and create more to prevent more lives from being lost.
Created in Shamony’s remembrance, The A.R.I.A.H. Foundation works to stop the devastation of Black Maternal Mortality.
ARIAH utilizes art, education, advocacy, and holistic healing programs to mitigate the long-lasting impact of systematic racism and oppression on the sexual reproductive health and birth outcomes within BIPOC communities. ARIAH's work amplifies and validates the voices of BIPOC birthing people to ensure that their stories are known and their vision for co-creating, nourishing, and raising their families is defined by, and for them. We are committed to increasing public awareness around reproductive health disparities, especially for those outside of BIPOC communities who wield power and have authority within institutions that perpetuate bias, discimination and oppression.
The ARIAH Foundation is committed to ameliorating the scourge of maternal morbidity and mortality by providing education, support, and advocacy for BIPOC individuals, families, and communities who have been impacted by disparities, inequities, and injustice in the reproductive healthcare system. ARIAH's programs and services are centered around the lived experiences, and expressed needs of BIPOC mothers and birthing people, who are most likely to be adversely impacted by reproductive inequities, trauma, loss and death.