As public health professionals serving a diverse population of pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, new parents, and their families, we at WIC acknowledge that racism is a public health crisis that directly affects our work and the families we serve. Systemic racism affects many communities, especially Black mothers and infants, whose chances of surviving pregnancy and birth are disproportionately lower than their white counterparts. This has invigorated our commitment to dismantling systemic racism and fostering an anti-racist and socially just environment.
Actions We Are Taking
For our participants:
- CinnaMoms was created in 2015 as a special space to promote and support breastfeeding while celebrating the traditions and culture of the Black families at PHFE WIC. CinnaMoms hosts monthly virtual support circles to facilitate culturally relevant and meaningful connections and discussions about maternal and postpartum health, support systems, and beliefs.
- Black Breastfeeding Week (BBW) was August 25-31st. The 2020 celebration took place virtually with the theme of “Revive, Restore, and Reclaim.”
- For more information about CinnaMoms, visit www.cinnamoms.org/
- Instagram: @CinnaMoms_
- PHFE WIC has partnered with Los Angeles County African American Infant and Maternal Mortality (AAIMM) Doulas and Frontline Doulas to connect black women with free doula services.
For our staff:
- Juneteeth education for all staff
- In June, 2020, Staff independently viewed a PowerPoint presentation that included facts about Juneteeth, Black historical and current information, and links to the National African American Museum (NAAM) website.
- Dr. Melissa Franklin of First 5 LA and Ms. Wenonah Valentine held a support group/healing space for Black staff as an opportunity to process, reflect, mobilize, and recommend next steps for the agency.
- In July 2020, the Council on Racial and Equity Affairs (CORE Affairs) team was assembled at PHFE WIC to evaluate and inform next steps for racial justice within our organization.
- This team informed a list of short, medium, and long-term goals for educational trainings, professional development, and exploring inclusivity in all avenues of the agency.
- CORE Affairs collaborated with other WIC agencies across Southern California during Black Breastfeeding Week to address breastfeeding barriers that Black families face.
- In July, 2020 PHFE WIC held an all-staff meeting with the topic of cultural sensitivity, racism, and recognizing and preventing micro-aggressions lead by PHFE WIC Senior Health Equity Manager Dr. Toncé Jackson
- All staff watched four video conversations on race and completed a thought-provoking worksheet to help process information and enhance learning.
- The group explored micro-aggressions and micro-affirmations through dialogue, videos, and examples.
- In August, 2020 staff attended the virtual California WIC Association conference where Sarah Fanta, Supervising Nutritionist and member of the C.O.R.E Advisory Committee, interviewed Austin Channing Brown.
- Austin Channing Brown is a speaker, writer, and media producer, who provided inspirational leadership on racial justice in America and is the author of I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made of Whiteness.
- In November, 2020, all PHFE WIC staff attended a virtual implicit bias workshop with Dr. Bryant Marks. As part of the workshop, staff took an implicit association test to become aware of their own biases. The workshop gave actionable ways to work toward racial equity.
- PHFE WIC has ensured interview panelists were racially diverse while hiring.
- Our parent company, Heluna Health has formed a cross-agency Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workgroup to address systemic racism.
We acknowledge that our efforts cannot and will not end here as this is ongoing endeavor. Please check back periodically to learn about our most recent efforts to fight for equity and justice.