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.
- To learn more about these projects and doulas visit:
For our staff:
- In July 2020, the Council on Racial and Equity (CORE) 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 collaborated with other WIC agencies across Southern California during Black Breastfeeding Week to address breastfeeding barriers that Black families face.
- 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.
- In June 2021, staff celebrated and commemorated Juneteenth with a special educational presentation created by members of CORE.
- In May 2021, the CORE team at PHFE WIC unveiled the new Health and Racial Equity page on the company’s intranet to be a resource available to employees.
- On May 25, 2021, PHFE WIC staff gathered virtually for the Inaugural Day of Remembrance to remember the names of Black people killed by police, and reflect on how we plan to move forward in our anti-racist journeys individually and as an organization.
- PHFE WIC staff attended California WIC Association’s Annual conference May 3-7, 2021. The theme was “Strengthening and Supporting California’s Families”. Staff heard Arthur James, MD, FACOG speak on Equity in the Opportunity to Survive the 1st Day of Life…a dream deferred.
- Following the Global Cultural calendar developed by Heluna Health’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workgroup, PHFE WIC staff created and shared presentations to educate and celebrate Chinese New Year, Black HIstory Month, Arab American Heritage Month, Women’s History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Cesar Chavez Day, Harriet Tubman Day, Juneteenth, and Greek and Irish Heritage Month.
- 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.
- 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 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 June 2020, 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.
- 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.
This is only the beginning. Please check back periodically to learn about our most recent efforts to build equity and justice in our organization and community.