Mills Provost Chinyere Oparah Discusses Black Women and the Maternal Health Care Crisis in East Bay Express

Oakland, CA—February 5, 2018

East Bay ExpressPregnant black women and infants in the East Bay are experiencing a disproportionate share of negative health outcomes. A recent East Bay Express article outlines the reasons why, and what’s being done about it. 

In 2013, about 26 of every 100,000 pregnant Black women died —almost four times as many as white women, who died at a rate of seven per 100,000 that year, according to data compiled by the California Health Care Foundation.

Chinyere Oparah, Provost and Dean of the Faculty at Mills College, co-founder of Black Women Birthing Justice and co-author of Battling Over Birth: Black Women and the Maternal Health Care Crisis in California, notes that it's important to acknowledge the disparities in health outcomes for Black mothers but cautioned against what she called the "culture of fear." "Yes, Black women in California are four times more likely to die," she said, referring to the California Health Care Foundation data. "However, most Black women are not going to die."

Oparah further explains that, improving maternal health outcomes is part of a broader push to improve the lives of people of color. "We should be looking at not just the streets and the police and the prison system and how Black people are losing their lives there,” she suggests. “Actually, we should be looking within our maternal healthcare system and the unnecessary deaths happening there both for Black women and infants."