This week’s upcoming installment of Red Table Talk promises to deliver a powerful discussion about medical racism and Black maternal health. In a newly released trailer, Adrienne Banfield-Norris and others recount their experiences of invisibility in the eyes of medical professionals.
The clip, which was previewed by People, shows Banfield-Norris talking about her pregnancy with her daughter, Jada Pinkett Smith, and how she was treated at the hospital her own father was an anesthesiologist at.
Adrienne Banfield-Norris Echoed Remarks by Activist Tamika D. Mallory Who Shared Her ‘Traumatic’ Experience as a Pregnant 18-Year-Old Woman.
The Red Table Talk trailer begins with a candid discussion about the “invisible Black woman” kicked of by social justice leader and activist Tamika D. Mallory.
Mallory describes the sense of invisibility she has felt for her entire life and brought up a particular experience of medical racism that she went through at just 18-years-old when she was pregnant.
“That invisible feeling is one that I have probably felt my whole life, from school days all the way until now,” Mallory told the group. “People don’t understand what feeling invisible means because I was 18, pregnant and the experience was so horrible that I was like, ‘I’m not doing that again.'”
“Imagine a young Black girl, and they treated me really bad just like sit over there, we’ll get to you in a minute,” the activist continued. “My water leaked for a month. It was just so much trauma that after that, I was like, never again.”
The devastating comments from Mallory stirred a memory for Banfield-Norris who went on to speak out about her own pregnancy experience with Pinkett Smith. She said that her doctors at the time “denied” the pain she was feeling while giving birth to her daughter.
“It’s interesting that you say that because now that I’m thinking about my own experience when I had Jada, it was pretty similar,” Banfield-Norris recalled. “I was not treated well, I was not cared for, and I was in a hospital where my father was head of anesthesia at the time.”
Listening to Banfield-Norris, the other women around that red table including author and professor Tressie McMillan Cottom and Banfield-Norris’ grandaughter Willow Smith, nodded in agreement and understanding as she matriarch shared her truth.
The new episode titled “The Invisible Black Woman Epidemic” explored the neglect that many Black women experience in society from everyday experiences to more intimate ones like treatment from healthcare professionals.
Mallory and Banfield-Norris’ comments highlight an issue that’s finally receiving more attention, Black Maternal Health and the disparities in care for Black mothers and their children.
Earlier this month, Congresswoman Cori Bush spoke at a congressional hearing about the topic and shared her own experience of being pregnant and Black.
Bush said at the hearing that she was ignored when she told doctors about the abdominal she experienced while pregnant with her son.
After being told “You’re fine,” by her healthcare providers she gave birth, prematurely, to her son at 23 weeks pregnant. He only weighed a pound.
“His ears were still in his head. His eyes were still fused shut. His fingers were smaller than rice, and his skin was translucent,” Bush, who is a former nurse, explained. “We were told he had a zero percent chance of life.”
Despite doctors’ grim prediction, and after spending a month hooked to a ventilator and four months in the NICU, her son Zion survived the ordeal. He’s now 21.
“Every day, Black women are subjected to harsh and racist treatment during pregnancy and childbirth,” the congresswoman testified. “Every day, Black women die because the system denies our humanity.”
The US continues to have the highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world, driven mostly by the high mortality rates among Black mothers.
Approximately 700 women die annually as a result of pregnancy or its complications, according to the CDC, and Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related issues than white women.
All women deserve the treatment and care that Adrienne Banfield-Norris, Tamika D. Mallory, and Rep. Cori Bush were denied. Vice President Kamala Harris called the current healthcare situation a “crisis.” We must all do our part to help end it.
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