mixed feelings about the path i’m on.

(originally titled: “i’m not about to play mammy to anyone”)

the other day, i got my membership packet from DONA international in the mail. i thumbed through the two newsletters & introductory info packet. i just sighed & thought, “i paid XX dollars to join an organization that won’t recommend you unless you get w/ their program, & these fuckers don’t even give me a membership card? blah.”
then i looked at the newsletters more closely. i saw maybe one photo of a black woman & baby. i sighed, swallowed hard & heard that lovely little voice inside my head going all crazy: “wtf? you know there are black doulas, & there are black women who utilize the services of doulas . . . this shit’s gotta change. get your training ASAP. read those books, find out if jackie from family birth mark is gonna be doing any classes in late spring to early summer. read some books. get comcast to come install cable, so you can research your ass off. & get ready to deal w/ those white folks, especially those who don’t think of you as ‘really’ black; & don’t forget the skeptical black folks who think you’re on some new age erykah badu earth mother bullshit . . .”

i’ve since calmed down. i thought about some things, had some talks (thx karas & mommy & trace), & came to the conclusion that i must simply place one foot before the other. i will be certified as a birth & postpartum doula. i will seek clients who are under or unrepresented within the realm of home birth & anything labeled “alternative” child birth. i will pick the brains of everyone who works across the hall from me so we can get the data that confirms my suspicions about why doulas didn’t work in the public health centers (um, hello gov’t mistrust & mistrust of white folks). i’m flipping through doula blogs to view the profession from women who’re not writing newsletters, but chronicling their lives & work. i’m gonna explore the connections that i can make w/ black midwives & doulas between philadelphia, nyc & the dc area. i will not allow myself to use my clients as platforms for my agenda, but i will not hesitate to remind myself why i am doing what i do. i will commit myself to providing the best possible service, & remember that it’s about what the client wants/ needs. (that’s gonna be hard cuz i’m one bossy motherfucker. maybe i ought to become a midwife instead? lol)

i’m gonna be dealing w/ the privileged. i know that. whether i connect with clients on a deeply personal level or not (i don’t know how i wouldn’t when i’m intending to be present at the birth of their child, for crying out loud), i have to remember i’m there to do a job. i can’t present everyone with my ideas on how to really have a birthing revolution. i should also refrain from anticipating that when i have a black client, i’ll automatically have some magical “yay i’m glad you’re black; let’s have a revolution” sort of thing going on. it would be cute if that could happen, but i’m not about to presume that it will.

i’m just trying to be as realistic w/ myself as possible. it won’t be all drama, of course. i want to lend strength, bolster confidence, & create comforts for my clients. i want to use my knowledge of aromatherapy & such to help them. i want to become a licensed massage therapist & combine all of my skills & training to assist my clients in having the most blissful pregnancies & births possible. & i mean that.

there’s so much i want to do. i’m praying that i can get it all done without compromising my integrity.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dark Daughta
    Dec 17, 2007 @ 23:51:00

    I think it’s great that you’re going to become a doula. I didn’t locate one here in Toronto for either of my births. Toronto is so small. The black folks here who speak english are predominantly west indian….conservative. When I think about finding a professional in any area in toronto who is black, I know I will have to wade through conservative after conservative after conservative who, despite having skin shaded in the same way as mine, will probably have politics and an upbringing vastly different than mine, including stuff like christian morality, heaping doses of class especially as it relates to what it means to be educated, uncritiqued power stuff attached to concepts of what it means to be a professional and what it means to work in community, which usually means having clients take everything said as the word of a demi god…sigh…I didn’t realize you wanted to be a doula. I had wondered what were the different things that made you connect with my blog were…I think doula work is a good idea and that really, at this point doulas have way more leeway to create inclusive birthing revolutions than the midwives, who have been grabbed by the scruff of their necks and yanked into an obeisant posture, have right now. Accreditation is just a synonym for government control, really. The doulas are being approached to be present at births that are the most cutting edge in terms of significance – the unassisted births. These are places the midwives are increasingly fearing to tread for fear of losing their licenses. I think the doulas just have a lot more leeway. I thought about becoming a midwife but I really don’t like white hegemonies disguised by dashes of colour here and there. And even more than white hegemonies, I can’t stand professional corsets or governmental leashes. I’m praying that midwifery is going to come out of the spiral and that midwives will find a way to share knowledge about things like breech births. Breeches aren’t even being taught in midwifery programs in Ontario, as far as I know.


  2. sugar rush
    Dec 18, 2007 @ 00:49:00

    sounds like a plan…

    i wouldn’t worry too much about having to compromise anything. you’re in the process of stating and confirming your intentions, and you know your ori will respect that when the time comes.

    you’re laying the foundation. that’s what matters.


  3. PretaMulatta
    Dec 21, 2007 @ 14:11:00

    i’m SO proud of u. i cant say it enough after reading this post. SO PROUD. this is about the WORK. u’re ready. only the good is gonna stay with u on this journey. ONLY THE GOOD…


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