DEAR INSTAGRAM, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT RACE.

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DEAR INSTAGRAM: WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT RACE.

@Instagram - we need to talk about race.

EDIT: I began this petition after learning about the #meandwhitesupremacy challenge hosted by Wild Mystic Woman. THANK YOU to Raven Robinson who called me out, invited me to engage in the challenge more deeply, and specifically requested for me to write this letter.

I hate talking about race too, especially as a white woman. Unfortunately as a labor and delivery nurse, doula, teacher and birth advocate, I am FORCED to talk about race. The problem is - a woman’s race alone affects her ability to survive childbirth, and her baby’s ability to survive. If you’re not familiar with this public health crisis, please read up. I’ve listed some links below. The shortened version is this:

1) Black women are 3-4 times as likely to die during birth. Their babies are twice as likely to die.

2) It’s not black women’s FAULTS they are dying. Research has disproven that black women’s “lifestyle” choices, poverty, or lack of education put them at greater risk. A healthy, black, college-educated woman who attends all her prenatal visits is more likely to die than a white woman who doesn’t attend prenatal care and didn’t graduate high school.

3) Racism is killing black women. This phenomenon is called WEATHERING, whereby a black woman’s body prematurely ages due to the chronic stress of systemic racism and medical racism. This causes a cardiovascular response, which increases her risk of pregnancy-related complications (pre-eclampsia, hypertension, preterm birth, hemorrhage, hysterectomy, death.)

4) In order to address the racism that is killing black women, people of all backgrounds need to have open, honest, brutal conversations about race. Not only race, but racism. Not only white supremacy exhibited by extremist groups in the United States, but racism that continues to affect all of us. Racist beliefs and myths that WE, ALL, continue to harbor.

I am contacting you, earnestly, to address your community standards surrounding conversations about race.

As a birth worker and nurse, I feel it is my deep responsibility to educate myself both on systemic racism, and medical racism that impacts MY care of my patients, and my patients’ ability to survive birth. Sadly, in a country afflicted by fake news outlets, an app favored by teen girls is one of the last places where we can engage in honest conversations about race, systemic racism and ways to challenge white supremacy. Some of my biggest personal breakthroughs have happened as a result of learning from teachers on @instagram, including @shishirose, @rachel.cargle, @ancientsong, @crimsonfig, and @wildmysticwoman.

Currently Wild Mystic Woman is offering the @instagram community an INCREDIBLE public service: a 28-day challenge where participants can dissect their personal experiences and beliefs around white supremacy. This is a brutal and soul-wrenching challenge. Rather than pointing fingers or blame, participants are forced to dive deep into their own psyches, and take personal responsibility for the beliefs they have that continue to cause harm to others.

After committing myself to the #meandwhitesupremacy challenge, I’ve learned more about RACE, RACISM, and my own PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, than in any other training, program or degree I’ve received.

Since following @wildmysticwoman’s account, I’ve witnessed multiple times when her posts have been removed, citing they are in violation of community standards. Typically the posts involve Layla’s specific request for a group of people, namely white women, not to comment on a specific post.

As a proponent of anti-racist work, Layla @wildmysticwoman and others (@shishirose, and @rachel.cargle) subject themselves to DAILY harassment by members of the @instagram community. They receive constant demeaning, silencing, tone-policing, racist, sexist and white supremacist messages. In order to do their work, they must “hold space” and moderate very difficult, triggering, traumatic and angering conversations that NO ONE else seems to be willing to have. Not only that - they do it for free.

WE MUST HAVE CONVERSATIONS ABOUT RACE BEFORE WE CAN RISE AS A SOCIETY.

@Instagram, it is not a violation of community standards for a specific profile (@wildmysticwoman) to set a boundary for her/their own safety - i.e. request that no white women comment on a specific post that is directed toward supporting black women.

DEAR @INSTAGRAM, THE WORDS “WHITE WOMEN” ARE NOT A RACIAL EPITHET. USING THE WORDS “WHITE WOMEN” SHOULD NOT BE GROUNDS FOR A POST TO BE CENSORED, REMOVED, OR SUPPRESSED.

Please @instagram, revisit your community standards surrounding conversations of race. PLEASE @instagram, offer protections to those individuals who have committed themselves to anti-racist work in a culture that is terrifyingly racist in increasingly violent ways. PLEASE PROTECT THEM, AND ALLOW THEM TO PROTECT THEMSELVES, so they can continue this work that will benefit us all.

Sincerely, Kate

NOTE: The title of this petition is a play on words similar to the title of an incredible book "So You Want to Talk About Race" by Ijeoma Oluo. It's really good. Get it on amazon.

LINKS:

Nothing Protects Black Women from Dying in Pregnancy and Birth:

Why America's Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis

What's Killing America's Black Infants?



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