SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) – Systemic racism has long played a harmful and often times deadly role in the medical treatment of Black women.
Assata Bey, a mother who has a passion for helping new moms, wants to see these circumstances change for the better.
Bey works at Sankofa Health Center, a resource that strives to not only provide birthing services for Black mothers, but raise awareness on issues plaguing the Black community.
“So we have lots of programming that we do to like, community outreach and all that,” Bey said. “We of course have doulas, community based doulas, we have yoga, we have childbirth education classes.”
The Administrative Assistant at Sankofa, Winston Scott, is aware of the benefits that the center brings to the Southside and the Syracuse Black community.
“I think for the Black community, especially on the southside, needs a lot of help,” Scott said. “Seeing the folks who come, walking on the streets and whatnot, it makes you like dang, I wanna actually put my best foot forward and help out my people in this community.
The Southside neighborhood in Syracuse is home to a mostly Black and low to middle income demographic.
Scott noted that Sankofa’s location in this neighborhood will also be beneficial to the community.
“I think Sankofa is in the right spot – it’s in the heart of the Southside,” Scott said.
According to the CDC, Black women are nearly three times more likely to die from pregnancy related complications than white women.
Bey acknowledged that women of other demographics suffer from maternal mortality, but that there is a deep difference between their rates and those of Black women.
“Other women are dying too. But we do know that Black women are dying at higher rates. Really, compared to especially white women,” Bey said.
There is proof that implicit bias does lie within the healthcare system.
A National Institute of Health study recently found that white medical students and residents believe that Black people perceive pain differently – a notion that has led to dramatic differences in the pain assessment and treatment of Black patients.
“It’s really sad that we have to advocate and scream that we have needs too,” Bey said.
“We look at research and it’s completely ridiculous, that they have this idea that Black people don’t feel pain the same way that white people do. Which is completely absurd.”
Bey said that this issue is a difficult one, but that it is one worth putting up a fight for.
“I don’t know, I can’t solve that battle at this point… but I’m trying.”