“Our communities, the source of our original inspiration – people of color, working people, women – still wait outside the institution[‘s] hallowed walls. Wait for us to integrate our dreams with reality. Wait for use to serve. Wait for us to ACT as changemakers alongside them. Wait for us to rejoin the fight with resolve. We can recapture the priority of social responsibility…We CAN! We MUST! We WILL!!!” – Melanie Tervalon May 1980
Welcome to the Women of Color Health Equity Collective (“The Collective”), formerly known as MotherWoman, Inc. We made this name change because it is reflective of our newly focused vision on health equity for Women of Color. This decision is intentional and purposeful and is the result of an introspective thought process. And, given the current economic, political, and social climate that has negatively affected People of Color across our country, it is a timely change. Our expanded mission is to promote the resilience and empowerment of Women of Color to advance health and wellness by building community-capacity and advocating for just policies through evidence-based research and grassroots organizing.
What would it look like if women and girls of color enjoyed optimal health and well-being in a socially just world and locally in western Massachusetts? Imagine a world where Women and Girls of Color receive access to good health care, food, housing, transportation, good education, employment, living wages, and other societal resources. Imagine a world where Women and Girls of Color are able to live free of chronic stress and its related health conditions. Imagine a world without premature death, avoidable hospitalizations, disproportionately higher death rates in women and girls of color. Imagine a world where the disparities in maternal and infant mortality were not at least 2-3x higher in Women of Color than their white counterparts. We believe that Women of Color are powerful and when we are valued and supported, are more successful in all areas of their lives, thereby benefiting children, families and communities.
Our decision to move the Collective more explicitly towards health equity for Women of Color is further supported by COVID-19 pandemic’s disproportionate impact on our communities including illness and death rates, unemployment, and other social concerns. This along with the ever increasing number of Black people killed by police (#GeorgeFloyd, #BreonnaTaylor, and #TonyMcDade to name a few) in the last few months. The overlap of these two events has revealed even more starkly the white supremacy and systemic racism that has been plaguing our country for hundreds of years. People of color die from infectious diseases, chronic diseases, police brutality, and more at disproportionately higher rates than white people in this country.
We plan to capitalize on the strong and valuable work of Motherwoman’s peer support group and coalition capacity building models. We will also continue to build and maintain collaborations with grassroots and community-based efforts to improve the lives of women of color, families and communities in the Pioneer Valley. Using our collective knowledge and skills steeped in cultural humility and anti-racism, we will:
- Facilitate regular cultural humility training for organizations, non-profits, health equity coalitions, campuses and individuals,
- Consult and assist coalitions and organizations with strategic planning around white supremacy workplace culture and health equity
- Lead community conversations focused on systemic racism and its effect on Black and brown communities
- Engage in building a multi-agent coalition led Women of Color Health Expo for Fall 2021.
- Offer the Facilitator training for affinity groups and peer support groups, both face-to-face and online, while expanding beyond PMD, to perinatal care, cancer survivorship, recovery, parenting, etc.
- Continue our coalition work with the perinatal support coalitions, cancer survivorship, people in recovery, parenting and Community Health Workers (CHW).
Join us as we carry forward the legacy of our foremothers of identity politics, black feminist theory, chicana feminism, reproductive justice, and cultural humility. Loretta Ross, self-proclaimed professional feminist, says “we shouldn’t give away our power by allowing others to define us out of our own movement.”
What if Women and Girls of Color in western Massachusetts Enjoyed Optimal Health and Well-Being in a Socially Just Society?
* Adapted from the Black Women’s Health Imperative
WHAT WE DO
Our Culturally Humble Response to COVID-19
The Collective is dedicated to approaching COVID-19 using the foundations and tenets of Cultural Humility. We recognize the differential impact of COVID-19 on people based on their current social location and past experiences. Practicing cultural humility around COVID-19 and the respective social determinants of health includes, but is not limited to, bearing witness to a person’s lived experience, recognizing the unique elements of someone’s background and culture, and respecting the autonomy that each person has over their own lives. Practicing cultural humility requires looking beyond one’s own worldview and approaching the experiences of others without judgment. We believe this approach values individuals and promotes their success.
The Collective encourages others to make the same commitment.