‘The trauma is in us’: Hundreds march in Madison for black health inequities

By Kateyn Ferral, The Capital Times

In Wisconsin, African American babies are more likely to die before the age of 1 than in any other state in the country.

In Dane County, one of the wealthiest counties in the state, African American babies are more than twice as likely to die before turning 1 and four times more likely to be stillborn than white babies.

Hundreds marched in Madison Saturday afternoon from the Capitol to demand action to better address those disparities. The group marched down West Washington Avenue and then stopped to address nurses and other officials at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital and UnityPoint Health-Meriter Hospital.

“What we know is true is that infant mortality is the true measure of the health of a community,” said Tia Murray, founder and CEO of Harambee Village Doulas in Madison, which organized the march.

Harambee, a name meaning “let’s pull together” in Swahili, is a nonprofit that promotes child and maternal health equity through a series of services and support for mothers of color, including doulas to help women through labor and delivery and to assist in prenatal and perinatal care.

“This is our community, everybody’s community and we should be concerned about that,” Murray said. “We are the worst state in the nation for black infant mortality. Our babies do not see their first birthday … that is not OK. … That has to change.”

Several speakers at the Capitol highlighted links between systems of inequity and injustice: from child and maternal health, to incarceration rates of black men, to educational policies that disproportionately discipline black boys. Read more …