For the last year, I've had a growing interest in the midwife movement that's taking hold in the U.S., where an increasing number of pregnant women are attempting to circumvent hospitals in order to receive dignified care from midwives.
News of the movement wasn't anything particularly new, but the more I dug, the more I realized there was a completely different narrative to tell in the realm of women's reproductive rights in the U.S., and it had to do with a loosely organized group of revolutionary black midwives who were attempting to change startling racial birth disparities on their own.
With black babies in this country suffering from the highest rates of infant mortality than any other racial group, and black women having the greatest risk of pregnancy-related deaths these women had one simple goal in mind: to bring back the belief that black lives matter to the womb, and carry on the spirit of those who came before them in the name of reproductive justice.
The result was a story for Al Jazeera America exploring their mission. I spent the summer accompanying women to prenatal appointments, spending time in birth education classes and visiting midwives as they worked at home and at birthing centers.
Their strength and resilience in doing this important work was quite amazing to witness, and learning about the traditionally black roots of midwifery in this country and how these traditional practices were curtailed by the medical establishment was both fascinating and maddening at the same time.
The photo above features the courageous Debbie Allen of Tribe Midwifery at a home visit with a client.