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Racism and reproduction — what black women need to know

The LA84 Foundation
Priska Neely/KPCC

This event has reached capacity. Please join us here for the live video stream on January 24! 

Black babies in the United States are far less likely than white babies to reach life's simplest milestones: to form words, to learn to crawl, to take their first steps.

That's because black babies born in the United States are two times more likely to die before their first birthday than white babies. The numbers are even worse in Los Angeles, where black babies are three times more likely than white babies to die. Lowering those rates is a priority for local public health officials.

KPCC’s Priska Neely, whose own family is part of the statistic, produced a series of stories examining the history of the black-white gap in outcomes for babies and what communities are trying to do to tackle the issue. Her reporting has shown that income, education and access to health care do not explain the persistence of the gap. Personal stories about childbirth complications from celebrities like Beyoncé and tennis star Serena Williams are reminders that even the most wealthy and healthy black women and their babies are vulnerable. A growing body of research shows that the root cause is a social one, and the suspected assailant is systemic racism and the chronic stress brought on by being a black woman in this country.

Join Priska Neely and a panel of guests as they share personal stories and information women can use to empower themselves — in and outside of the doctor’s office — to help improve outcomes for their babies and themselves.

Debbie Allen – owner and clinical director of Tribe Midwifery 

Raena Granberry – mother, maternal-child health advocate and program manager with Black Women for Wellness

Dr. La Tanya Hines – OB-GYN, Kaiser Permanente

This project received support from the Center for Health Journalism's California Fellowship and its Fund for Journalism on Child Well-being.