Through this week, I have observed, read, and researched the imminent closing of the non-profit Postpartum Progress. PPI was a dedicated support system and advocate for maternal mental health, created and run by a woman who overcame her own postpartum mental illnesses.
Unfortunately, it has come to light that the inner workings of the organization were rife with institutionalized racism, microaggression, and abuses that caused valued women of color to resign their positions. This is a horrific thing to do to the very women who need the most support. It’s well documented that women of color are at a significantly higher risk for maternal mental health concerns, as well as less likely to seek out help.
As a white woman, I am ashamed. I am ashamed that racism perpetrated by white women against women of color continues to play out in this country, unquestioned, unpunished. There is no excuse for that kind of behavior, no “I’m tired” “it’s been a long week.” No. Microaggressions are the result of longstanding denial and refusal to see the plight of women of color – the very definition of institutionalized racism – if not simply blatant prejudice.
I believe a woman of color when she says she has been discriminated against, without hesitation, without question, without qualification. I will not ask for proof; I am not the judge to decide whether a woman of color has been hurt.
While I was not a volunteer or financial contributor to PPI, I denounce their behavior and will not support any decision other than to replace the board and CEO. Closing the organization is an act of cowardice that is the equivalent to a bunch of kids in the schoolyard taking their ball and going home because they don’t like being called on for breaking the rules. Katherine Stone and PPI has broken the rules, and the hearts of many women. They owe it to many mothers everywhere to do the right thing.