Nikole Hannah-Jones spotlights Black maternal healthcare with singer, actress Tatyana Ali

ByNzinga Blake, Shako Liu and Jessica Dominguez OTRC logo
Friday, June 16, 2023
Nikole Hannah-Jones, Tatyana Ali spotlight Black maternal healthcare
Storytellers Spotlight: Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones' powerful conversation on the Black maternal healthcare crisis and discuss solutions with singer, actress and reproductive advocate Tatyana Ali.

"On The Red Carpet" Storytellers Spotlight welcomes Pulitzer Prize-winning author Nikole Hannah-Jones and singer/actress and reproductive advocate Tatyana Ali to sit down for a powerful, uplifting conversation surrounding the Black maternal health crisis.

In connection to Episode 2 of Hannah-Jones' "The 1619 Project," the discussion centers on Tatyana's own challenging birthing experience, which served as a catalyst and inspired her to use her platform to become a reproductive justice advocate for Black, brown, and indigenous mothers.

The second episode in Hannah-Jones' Hulu Original docu-series "The 1619 Project," which is streaming in its entirety on Hulu, addresses the unique challenges Black women face during pregnancy and postpartum.

Ali opened up to Hannah-Jones about the life-changing experience that occurred while giving birth to her first baby.

"Once you have an epidural the hospital doesn't allow you to move," said Ali.

At this point during her labor story Ali says she wanted to move positions to find comfort.

"And they pin me down. Like physically, they physically held me down. They physically held my feet down. They physically held my arms down," said Ali. "I'm being restrained by multiple people. There are about four or five people in front of me, screaming, yelling at me, you know, commands that me and all sorts of things."

Furthermore, Hannah-Jones and Ali dive into topics such as breastfeeding, Black maternal misconceptions, options and solutions for Black women.

After the birth of her first baby, Ali's birthing experience set her on a healing journey. Eventually leading her to a world of reproductive justice advocates, midwives who were women of color, researchers, doulas and women who helped shape and inspire her to become a reproductive advocate herself.

Through sharing her story and finding a community that she could grow with, Ali found a fresh purpose to what began as a traumatic experience. It was then that she decided to use her platform to advocate for Black maternal healthcare.

At this time she was also expecting her second baby.

"That community took me in. They were there to teach me. I learned about our history, I learned why I learned about implicit bias," said Ali.

"One thing that I hope people take away from the 1619 Project series from your story is, it's nothing wrong with Black women. Right? It's nothing physiological about our bodies that make us more prone to death and our children are more prone to death. There's nothing psychologically wrong with us," said Hannah-Jones. "I think it's so important to make clear that we should not be having outcomes that we have that Black women and Black children are dying needlessly."

Hannah-Hones and Ali both agree that sharing these personal stories helps raise awareness. It's also empowering, educational and uplifts a community.

"We don't want to feel powerless over the outcomes of our births, in which you found a community that allows us to take control of what happens in our lives," said Hannah-Jones.

Watch the entire story in the video above.

All episodes of "The 1619 Project," from executive producer Nikole Hannah-Jones, are now streaming on Hulu.

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