SisterSong created the national Trust Black Women partnership in 2010, when racist and sexist anti-abortion billboards actually accused black women of genocide for obtaining abortions – as if the oppression of black people should relegate black women to breeding machines with no right to make personal choices about family creation. SisterSong responded by convening a partnership of black-women-led organizations to form Trust Black Women, and in our first year, we defeated both the billboards and a concomitant bill to restrict abortion.
Today, SisterSong is building the national Trust Black Women partnership to be even bigger and bolder. Black-women-led organization members and individual black women members across the US are working together to transform how the country views and treats black women. We are using powerful communications and events to eradicate stereotype and uplift black women’s voices. We are training black women to be media spokespeople, and mobilizing black women and allies in national organizing for black women’s rights. We are connecting black women with holistic self-care techniques and resources, and building grassroots community. Joining forces with the Movement for Black Lives, we are spotlighting and addressing all of the intersecting oppressions in black women’s lives, and showing the country that we will be heard, that Black Lives Matter, and that it is past time for the US to honor and Trust Black Women to lead our own free lives.
The US is the only technologically advanced nation where maternal mortality is actually rising. The reason? Too many low income women and women of color can’t access quality healthcare. Southern black women face the greatest danger. Black women are 3-4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.1 In some Mississippi counties, black women are more likely to die in childbirth than women in Sub-Saharan Africa,2 and Texas now has the highest maternal mortality rate in the “developed” world.3
SisterSong, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health wrote a shadow report bringing this dire issue directly to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and they adopted all of our recommendations. SisterSong and the Center for Reproductive Rights now co-lead Black Mamas Matter, a collaboration of Southern black women’s organizations and individual black women leaders who are raising awareness and recruiting activists and organizations to join us in pushing for policy changes like Medicaid expansion, which can help keep Southern black women safe.
To join our work, please download the Black Mamas Matter toolkit on the Center for Reproductive Rights website, and contact us for any questions or to join our planning group.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System; Tucker MJ, Berg CJ, Callaghan WM, Hsia J. The black–white disparity in pregnancy-related mortality from 5 conditions: differences in prevalence and case-fatality rates. Am J Pub Health. 2007;97:247–251.
SisterSong mobilizes a vast base of supporters in rapid response organizing to protect the rights of women of color and other marginalized women and trans* people in the South. We organize huge marches, rallies, petitions, and social media campaigns that attract the attention of key decision-makers and the media. Issues include abortion and contraception access, the criminalization of women of color for miscarriage, abortion, or protecting their families, and more.