Chinyere Oparah is a leader, educator, and activist scholar with roots in Nigeria and the U.K., who lives in Oakland, CA. She is Provost/Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Ethnic Studies at Mills College, a college committed to gender and racial justice, and transformative education. Chinyere is author of Other Kinds of Dreams: Black Women’s Organisations and the Politics of Transformation; editor of Global Lockdown: Race, Gender and the Prison-Industrial Complex and co-editor of Activist Scholarship: Antiracism, Feminism and Social Change; Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption and Color of Violence: The Incite! Anthology and co-editor (with Alicia D. Bonaparte) of Birthing Justice: Black Women, Pregnancy and Childbirth.
Why I am involved:
I started the journey of pregnancy knowing very little about the medical industrial complex and its impact on black women’s birth experiences. During my pregnancy, I found myself boxed into a category of “older” woman (in my early 40s), and treated as if my pregnancy was a risk, and I was somehow irresponsible for having fertility treatment and getting pregnant late in life. As a single-mom-to-be and queer woman, I also experienced a great deal of homophobia and heterosexist assumptions about what my family looked like, and who would be at the birth. I found it heartbreaking that so few black women have the economic or emotional resources to access the kind of support that allowed me to resist the medical industry and be fully present for the sacred experience of birth. As an activist and researcher, I decided that working within a collective to document our birth stories of heartbreak and courage was a first step toward reclaiming our birth experiences, and ending the medical violence of unnecessary C-Sections and other interventions that lead to injury and even deaths of black women and babies. I am thrilled to be working with a collective of inspiring, courageous and committed women toward this goal.
Linda Jones (formerly Jones-Mixon) is a Birth and Postpartum Doula and mother of two who lives in Oakland, CA. She founded and owned Waddle and Swaddle Baby Boutique and Resource Center in Berkeley, CA and has been a part of the natural birth advocacy community in the Bay Area for over two decades. She belongs to Sistahs of the Good Birth, a group of Black Doulas who work with low income mothers. She was one of the founders of a volunteer Doula group that provided services for low income, uninsured and teen moms that birthed at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley.
Why I am Involved:
After a career in corporate America, a three-year sailing adventure, and the birth of my second daughter, I found the career and passion that I have been looking for all my life as a Doula. A Doula is a woman that informs, guides and supports women and new families through the birth experience and the first few days, weeks or months after the birth. I have been doing this work for over two decades in the East Bay Area.
The reason I am so excited about working with Black Women Birthing Justice is because I am very concerned with the high incidence of traumatic births and maternal mortality among all women and specifically Black women. The high percentage of early inductions and C-sections have made birth a medical action rather than the natural, empowering experience in can be for women. I want to be a part of a collective that will begin to impact these issues and empower women to take back their birth choices.
Sayida Peprah, has a Doctorate of Psychology in Clinical Psychology, with a Multicultural Clinical-Community Emphasis, from the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University. Dr. Peprah completed her undergraduate studies in Psychology and Religion at Spelman College. Dr. Peprah’s background, both academically and in the field, afford her unique competence in instructing courses, counseling and consulting, from a multicultural perspective. Dr. Peprah has a strong belief and background in cultural competence and, in effort to expand this, has participated in numerous international, cultural immersion studies. Previously, she has traveled to Ghana, Mexico, Egypt and India, studying mental health approaches, indigenous culture and local spiritual traditions. Dr. Peprah is also a Birth Doula, who has worked with women of diverse backgrounds, and is a Board Member and Instructor with The Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health, teaching cultural awareness, cross-cultural communication and perinatal mood disorder content for the organization’s trainings. Sayida is a Psychological Consultant for the organization's clients both individual and corporate.
Natalie Berbick, MSW is an experienced advocate for health equity and social justice in Maternal and Child Health programs. As a graduate of UC Berkeley and University of Michigan School of Social Work, her work has mainly supported the health and safety of children and families throughout her career by addressing health disparities and disenfranchised populations with interventions and prevention programs. She is presently the Infant Health Programs Manager for Family, Maternal, and Child Health (FMCH) Programs of Contra Costa Health Services, Public Health Division. She oversees the coordination of the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Fetal Infant Mortality Review (FIMR), and Black Infant Health (BIH) Programs for Contra Costa County as an administrator and program manager since 2009. Ms. Berbick recently served as President of the N. California Regional SIDS Council, and was a member on the California Advisory SIDS Council. She has hosted and facilitated regional and statewide trainings in these roles to support Public Health Professionals build their core competencies with grief and bereavement support, and strengthen relationships with perinatal providers through a trauma-informed lens. As a certified Resolve Through Sharing® Coordinator, Ms. Berbick will be a presenter addressing Grief and Loss Support for Families who have Experienced Fetal/Infant Loss in the context of the Black Infant Health Program.