Book reviews


"Birthing Justice: Black Women, Pregnancy and Childbirth is a truly original and innovative book -- and an absolute necessity in the current field of research on reproduction.  With an interdisciplinary range of authors that also includes activists both within and outside the academy, the book  demonstrates the important relationship between feminist scholarship and feminist activism."


Christa Craven, Chair, Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program, Associate Professor of Anthropology, College of Wooster, author, Pushing for Midwives: Homebirth Mothers and the Reproductive Rights Movement.


"At last, a book that places the experiences of Black women at the center of the debates about childbirth. Mixing activist, scholarly and personal perspectives, this book reclaims the history of black women as active agents in their birthing experiences, and deftly critiques the unwanted and questionable interventions that women throughout the diaspora have been subjected to, while inspiring readers to push for social change."


Kimala Price, Associate Professor, Women’s Studies, Co-Director, The Bread and Roses Center for Feminist Research and Activism, San Diego State University


"The contributors to this important volume write not only of the relationships between a parent and child and others in their lives but also about the racism and other structural forces that threaten these ties. Addressing these threats requires that we recognize the connections between birth justice and other forms of social justice, including racial and economic justice and the movement to end the war on drugs. Fittingly, Birthing Justice also speaks to resilience and the power of collective action forged out of struggle; it reminds us that black women and trans/gender nonconforming individuals continue to resist the devaluation of their personhood and to mobilize for social change. This book and the advocacy and scholarship that inform and surround it promise to energize and advance our movements in important ways."


Jeanne Flavin, Professor of Sociology, Fordham University and President, National Advocates for Pregnant Women board of directors. Author, our bodies, our crimes: the policing of women's reproduction in america.



"Midwives value ‘going where the women are,’ and that is very much what this book has done – South Carolina and North, Zimbabwe, Canada, the South Bronx and Florida; Neonatal intensive care units, operating rooms, radiology suites and birth centers, HIV Clinics and bedrooms – this book takes us to all of them.  And the women – they are mothers and midwives and doctors and nurses; they tell their story, a quilt square tells their death;  they stand as women or as the still-rare pregnant transman.  And the pain and the strength of what it means to be Black and pregnant is written on every page.  A long-awaited, much needed book!"   

Barbara Katz Rothman, Professor of Sociology, City University of New York.



Birthing Justice:
Black Women, Pregnancy and Childbirth,
edited by Julia Chinyere Oparah
and Alicia D. Bonaparte
Purchase the Paperback or eBook Now


Foreword, Shafia Monroe

Foreword, Jeanne Flavin


Introduction: Beyond Coercion and Malign Neglect: Black Women and the Struggle for Birth Justice

Julia Chinyere Oparah with Black Women Birthing Justice


I           Birthing Histories 


1          Queen Elizabeth Perry Turner: “Granny Midwife,” 1931–1956

Darline Turner

2          Regulating Childbirth: Physicians and Granny Midwives in South Carolina

Alicia D. Bonaparte

3          Between Traditional Knowledge and Western Medicine: Women Birthing in             Postcolonial Zimbabwe

Christina Mudokwenyu-Rawdon, Peggy Dube, Nester T. Moyo, and Stephen Munjanja


II         Beyond Medical versus Natural: Redefining Birth Injustice


4          An Abolitionist Mama Speaks: On Natural Birth and Miscarriage

Viviane Saleh-Hanna

5          Mothering: A Post-C-Section Journey

Jacinda Townsend

6          Confessions of a Black Pregnant Dad

Syrus Marcus Ware

7          Birth Justice and Population Control

Loretta J. Ross

8          Beyond Silence and Stigma: Pregnancy and HIV for African Diasporic                     Women in Canada

Marvelous Muchenje and Victoria Logan Kennedy

9          What I Carry: A Story of Love and Loss

Iris Jacob

10        Images from the Safe Motherhood Quilt

Ina May Gaskin and Laura Gilkey


III        Changing Lives, One Birth at a Time


11        Birthing Sexual Freedom and Healing: A Survivor Mother’s Birth Story

Biany Pérez

12        Birth as Battle Cry: A Doula’s Journey from Home to Hospital

Gina Mariela Rodríguez

13        Sister Midwife: Nurturing and Reflecting Black Womanhood in an Urban                 Hospital

Stephanie Etienne

14        A Love Letter for My Daughter: Love as a Political Act

Haile Eshe Cole

15        New Visions in Birth, Intimacy, Kinship, and Sisterly Partnerships

Shannon Gibney and Valerie Deus

16        I Am My Hermana’s Keeper: Reclaiming Afro-indigenous Ancestral Wisdom             as a Doula

Griselda Rodriguez

17        The First Cut Is the Deepest: A Mother-Daughter Conversation about Birth,             Justice, Healing, and Love

Pauline Ann McKenzie-Day and Alexis Pauline Gumbs


IV        Taking Back Our Power: Organizing for Birth Justice


18        Unexpected Allies: Obstetrician Activism, VBACs, and the Birth Justice                     Movement

Christ-Ann Magloire and Julia Chinyere Oparah

19        Birthing Freedom: Black American Midwifery and Liberation Struggles

Ruth Hays

20        Becoming an Outsider-Within: Jennie Joseph and Florida Midwifery

Alicia D. Bonaparte and Jennie Joseph

21        Beyond Shackling: Prisons, Pregnancy, and the Struggle for Birth Justice

Priscilla A. Ocen and Julia Chinyere Oparah

© 2020 by Black Women Birthing Justice. All rights reserved.