By: Da’na M. Langford, Certified Nurse Midwife CEO and Medical Director of The Village of Healing Center
Dear County Executive,
Cuyahoga County has continued to fail Black women and not show up for us and our babies in the same way that we loyally continue to show up for this county. Cleveland, Ohio has been found to be the worst place to live for Black women. Finally, this year, the city felt it was worth the effort to address and vote for the Commission for Black Women and Girls. We can only hope that this is more than just a meeting and talking commission that creates recommended action steps that are ignored and placed into a binder on a shelf by leadership. But this is how the Black women of Cuyahoga County feel. Our lives and our babies’ lives are just talking points used in election cycles to rally the loyalty of Black women. When the elections are over, Black women and our babies are returned to the shelves, until our loyalty and commitment are needed again.
Cleveland, Ohio has been found to be the worst place to live for Black women…being Black in Cuyahoga County and having a baby means placing oneself and the baby in danger.
Tenisha Gaines and I, Da’na M. Langford, started The Village of Healing Center after being ignored as Black women in healthcare, as patients and employees. We sat in meeting after meeting constantly reminded, that being white in Cuyahoga County and having a baby was great, but that being Black in Cuyahoga County and having a baby means placing oneself and the baby in danger. We knew we needed action and the data told us when your provider looks like you, you and your babies’ outcomes are improved, disparities decrease, and satisfaction and compliance with care increase. The Village of Healing Center was about ACTION. Our mission is to deliver quality health care services that meet the social and cultural needs of patients, improving health outcomes and quality of care that works to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities. We offer all members of the community, healthcare that looks like them.
However, as a Black organization doing the work in the community, and collaborating with other Black organizations doing the work, like Birthing Beautiful Communities and Pregnant with Possibilities Resource Center, we are forced to watch large white organizations continue to get millions of dollars in philanthropy and donations with no data supporting they have a real answer. Cuyahoga County has a massive problem in Black infant mortality and maternal mortality and health, and Black women-led organizations are the solution. Our work proves that we are the solution.
As County Executive, what is your true commitment to Black women outside of the election cycle? Black women are exhausted with pledging our loyalty to what feels like an abusive relationship with the government at the expense of life. How committed are you to seeing Black women and babies live and thrive? Are our lives just as important as the white women who are being told Cuyahoga County is a great place to have a baby with world-renowned and nationally recognized healthcare systems?
Show your commitment to Black women and babies by guaranteeing real dollars in budgets for investing in Black-led organizations doing the work.
Show your commitment to Black women and babies by guaranteeing real dollars in budgets for investing in Black-led organizations doing the work. Allow us the opportunity to change the trajectory of Black women by granting us the same dollars this county gives to large white hospital systems that cause us harm. We have the solutions, and we are the experts. Listen to Black-led organizations and trust us to do the work. The work of giving Black women and babies the opportunity to live full lives and not count the days praying, just to see the next day of life.
Sincerely, Da’na M. Langford, Certified Nurse Midwife CEO and Medical Director
The Village of Healing Center