DBM Ep 54: Birth Justice, Liberation & the Power of Black Midwives w/ Jamarah Amani & K.Sanderson

Black Midwives




Dear Mama,

Dream with me.  Can you imagine a world with a Black midwife in every family, in every community, easily accessible, at our fingertips, a world in which birth choices aren’t controlled by capitalism, a world in which the birth practices that Black women used to literally birth this country are honored, a world in which they are revered, a world in which Black midwives could practice the full scope of reproductive health and reproductive choices are respected, a world in which Black mothers don’t fear death in the midst of giving birth, experience it with fully joy and bodily autonomy.  It’s Black Maternal Health Week and we are grateful for the opportunity to sit with two people invested in building that world: Jamarah Amani, founder of National Black Midwives Alliance & cofounder of Southern Birth Justice Network & filmmaker K. Sanderson  In this episode we’re talking: 

👉🏾Harriet Tubman & midwifery (Yeah we ain’t even know)

👉🏾Why the medical system fears Black midwifery (I mean we know why but still)

👉🏾The fight & journey to answer your calling (chiiilllleee this got deep)

👉🏾Their documentary series Legacy Power Voice: Movements in Black Midwifery (cause WE KNO what happens when other people tell our stories)

MERCH OF THE MONTH – Magic Evermore Box

The intention of this box is for Black Mamas to honor the light within themselves.  The items inside the Magic Evermore box will prepare Black mamas to soak up all the energy of the sun all summer and remind them of the importance of documenting themselves, the power to manifest the life you want, and to soften and pour into yourself when your mothership hits rough waters.  Order by MAY 1st & receive in time for Mother’s Day. Items inside:

✨Full Black Mama Magic Card Deck

✨Manifestation Crystals: Citrine, Pyrite, Rose Quartz, Blue Apatite

✨Incense from Smell Good Spa

✨Mama Magic: Evermore Picture Frame


✨Gratitude Jar

✨Herbs: Jasmine, Eucalyptus, & Lavender

✨An investment in yourself and in Dem Black Mamas Podcast. When you invest in us, you are investing in a platform curated by three women actively creating spaces of healing, creativity & liberation.



Church Announcements: [00:03:55]

  • Responsive Reading:
    • Black Mama Magic Card #11 Magic Is Real.  You Are Proof

Mac & Cheese:  [00:17:09]

Jamarah Amani, LM is a community midwife who believes in the transformative and healing power of birth and that every baby has a human right to human milk. Her mission is to do her part to build a movement for Birth Justice locally, nationally and globally. Jamarah is the architect of the Birth Justice framework, the Black Midwives Model of Care and the Birth Justice Bill of Rights. Jamarah identifies as Black, Femme and Queer.  A community organizer from the age of sixteen, Jamarah has worked with several organizations across the United States, the Caribbean and in Africa on various public health issues, including HIV prevention, infant mortality risk reduction, access to emergency contraception and access to midwifery care. As a birth worker and activist, Jamarah has been tackling issues of racial justice, including the epidemics of Black maternal and infant morbidity/mortality for over fifteen years. She is currently the Executive Director of Southern Birth Justice Network, (https://southernbirthjustice.org/) a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working to expand the Birth Justice movement and to make midwifery and doula care accessible to marginalized communities. She is also the co-founder of National Black Midwives Alliance, (https://blackmidwivesalliance.org/) the only national professional association in the U.S. specifically for midwives of African descent, and a founding member of the Queer and Transgender Midwives Association.  Jamarah is the recipient of the 2019 Trailblazer Award from the City of Miami, which proclaimed a day in her honor- Jamarah Amani Day, celebrated annually on March 14. She has been featured in a variety of media outlets including PBS, NPR, NBC and publications such as Vox, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Washington Post, among others. She has written for news outlets including the Miami Times and Miami Herald. Jamarah recently received the inaugural Umm Salaamah Sondra Abdullah- Zaimah Birthworker Award from Black Mamas Matter Alliance (https://blackmamasmatter.org/). In addition to parenting four children and watching the sunrise whenever possible, Jamarah offers midwifery care to families in South Florida and teaches workshops on Birth Justice to organizations across the United States.  Jamarah is currently producing a documentary entitled Legacy Power Voice: Movements in Black Midwifery with her partner, filmmaker Karyl-Lyn Sanderson. Follow & Support Jamarah – IG: @goddesspeacebeautiful @blackmidwivesalliance @southernbirthjustice Twitter: @black_midwives

Karyl-Lyn Sanderson (they/them), affectionately known as K, is a non-binary visionary, artist and entrepreneur with over 20 years of work experience as a digital media producer. K’s mission is to shift societal paradigms while enriching and advancing the lives of those they serve. With their daring and joyful spirit, K takes on projects that bring greater exposure to causes and issues of importance. For over a decade, K created groundbreaking media as the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Limitless New Media, an independently operated creative studio that designed a wide array of original content for community, educational and faith-based initiatives. K is an alumni of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Film and Television Production program. K has exhibited a passion for documenting oral histories and preserving Black culture throughout their career. They currently hold the position of Media Director for Southern Birth Justice Network. K. Sanderson’s most notable recent work is serving as the Creator, Director, Cinematographer and Editor of “Legacy Power Voice: Movements in Black Midwifery, ” a film collection of documentary shorts being independently produced by the National Black Midwives Alliance (NBMA), with Executive Producer Jamarah Amani. The film features intimate portraits and first-hand accounts of trailblazing Black midwives who dedicate their lives to improving outcomes in Black maternal and infant health. K hopes that this film will be a tool to help Black midwives and communities restore and reclaim birthing traditions in America.

  • Segment Highlights
    • [00:23:16] And my midwives actually, when they received their compensation from Medicaid for my birth, gifted part of their fee to me. I always share that because it showed me really the power of community that midwives built. -Jamarah Amani
    • [00:24:41] I think everything starts with vision. I walked this path that my ancestors have paid for me and that my elders have literally mapped out for me and. I believed that this path would be successful in terms of elevating and uplifting this mission to save black mamas and babies and families, and to make our care accessible to people of all genders, to people of color, to those who’ve been marginalized and oppressed and traumatized through their reproductive health experiences.  I believed that that was possible and I think that’s how it starts. It starts with believing that it’s possible. I tell my children all the time, everything you see began with an idea. -Jamarah Aman
    • [00:27:16]  We did not know, I certainly didn’t that Harriet Tubman was a midwife. -K. Sanderson
    • [00:40:36] This calling that’s pulling you spiritually and then you have all of these hurdle that you have to battle and some may be within yourself and may be within your family, within your society, institutions that are not welcoming and friendly to black midwifery students. You gotta battle all of that just to get to answering the call. -Jamarah Amani
    • [00:42:28] I think that the, the aspects of midwifery that are connected to ritual and spirituality and culture and earth-based healing methods that give us access to our power, our ancestral power. I think that those are the aspects of midwifery that the system is most afraid of, and why black midwives were maligned in the way that they were. -Jamarah Amani
    • [00:45:40]  I’ll just share briefly that early 1920, census of midwives, in Florida,  showed that there were about around 4,000 midwives.  The census data that was collected was that 98% of them were black. 98% out of 4,000. It was really a black woman’s profession. And then today, when we fast forward, there are about 18, 19 licensed black midwives in the state of Florida that are community-based midwives, 18 or 19. -Jamarah Amani
    • [00:56:45] We want our institutions right, which is where most of our people are receiving care and where people are dying to reflect the culture, the art, the values of the people that they’re serving. So if the people that are, birthing in hospitals are asking for more holistic care and more cultural elements of care and more natural ways to give birth and to heal and to exist, then those institutions have to be responsive to that. -Jamarah Amani
    • [01:07:53]  You know, I see art in everything, that element of getting people to higher states, as a director, we support actors so that they can give that optimal performance when they are most present when that authenticity and that power comes through in performances.  So we mirror what’s happening and I see that in midwives, moment by moment the birthing person is dictating how to bring forth this life and Myles Davis told us, you know, the secret to improvisation is that the next note corrects. -K. Sanderson
    • [01:12:09] Uplifting and Arka, Betsy and Lucy, look at Michelle Browder’s Monument this is a, an artist who was, doing amazing things for Burning Man, had this conviction to create and to sculpt and to reclaim the site, stood in Marion SIM’s office and know that it is intentionally been reclaimed by a black woman. What? -K. Sanderson
    • [01:18:15] To exclude Black midwives, you have to understand that when we’re talking about birth and hospitals, that these are state institutions and the policies that we’re finding around abortion bans, these are the same playbooks with the same players from the 18th century. So this wasn’t just an erasure of 50 years of common law this, this is antebellum politics and for the same end in order to control our reproductive options -K. Sanderson
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