As Black Maternal Health Week comes to a close, it is essential to recognize the significance of Black women’s wellness. Black women continue to be disproportionately impacted by enduring rates of maternal morbidity and mortality, which are highest in the United States among industrialized nations. Although every pregnancy-related death is tragic, it’s a devastating fact that more than 80% of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. are preventable. The enduring impact of systemic racism and implicit bias on Black maternal health outcomes cannot be dismissed.
It is crucial to celebrate Black joy and prioritize rest and wellness to combat the negative impact of stress on Black maternal health. Historically, wellness has been stigmatized in Black communities, with the myth of the “strong Black woman” perpetuating the idea that Black women can handle anything without help. This harmful narrative has created a culture of silence and shame around seeking help, rest, and respite.
It is time to dismantle this myth and prioritize Black women’s wellness. Self-care and rest are revolutionary acts of resistance against a system that perpetuates harm on Black bodies. Rest is not laziness, and self-care is not selfish; they are necessary for our well-being and survival.
Here are some tips for Black women to prioritize their wellness and rest:
Celebrating Black joy and prioritizing rest and wellness is essential for Black women. We must continue to call out the longstanding impact of systemic racism and implicit bias on Black maternal health outcomes and create a culture that celebrates rest, wellness, and joy. Let us prioritize our health with dignity and well-being and create a better future for ourselves and future generations.
by Lidyvez Sawyer, EdD, MPH
Equity Implementation Strategist