Uplift Lab Statement of Solidarity
“We are in an imagination battle.
Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown and Renisha McBride and so many others are dead because, in some white imagination, they were dangerous. And that imagination is so respected that those who kill, based on an imagined, racialized fear of Black people, are rarely held accountable.
Imagination has people thinking they can go from being poor to a millionaire as part of a shared American dream. Imagination turns Brown bombers into terrorists and white bombers into mentally ill victims. Imagination gives us borders, gives us superiority, gives us race as an indicator of capability. I often feel I am trapped inside someone else's imagination. I often feel I am trapped inside someone else's imagination, and I must engage my own imagination in order to break free.”
― Adrienne Maree Brown, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds
The Uplift Lab faculty, students, community partners, and collaborators align with millions of people globally in calling for an end to racial injustice and brutality against Black bodies in the United States and worldwide. We sit with the deep, collective sorrow and struggle of Black mothers, parents and families at the loss of Georg Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and tragically, many many more, seeing the pervasiveness of anti-Black racism for what it is— a manifestation of centuries of oppression and harm in the US, what Dána-Ain Davis calls the afterlife of slavery.
One of the many ways this afterlife shows up is through historical and current systemic and direct violence in the forms of mass incarceration and police brutality. These manifestations of anti-Black racism intersect with, and are perpetuated by, reproductive vulnerability across generations, wherein Black birthing people and babies in the United States are three to four times more likely to die during birth and in the first year of life. Such outcomes are the result of explicit and implicit biases that characterize the realities of Black life and the unacceptable hierarchy of human value in this country.
Such a sick and twisted society built on the chronic abuse and enslavement of Black bodies cannot—will not—endure. We must find ways to unapologetically dismantle the systems, processes, and structures of white supremacy that maintain and perpetuate anti-Black racism. We must construct a new reality.
We choose to begin with birth.
Birth justice occurs when all people have access to a safe and respectful start in life, are fully supported, and are emboldened to self-determination throughout their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experiences. The Uplift Lab commits to advancing birth justice through inclusive research that imagines and implements more equitable reproductive futures. We do this by centering the experiences of Black families, colleagues, students, and communities, through deep listening and responsiveness to Black leadership, and by uplifting community-engaged programs intentionally designed to implement these imaginings. We look for ways to combine research and direct services that can intercede at the everyday touchpoints of medical racism to help create a different reality, such as the many community doula programs nationally and locally.
Let us be abundantly clear: We call for nothing short of a complete and total rebirth of our nation as one that is indisputably equitable and just for all. This reimagined nation will become a reality when Black families thrive and Black babies grow unrestrained by the fetters of hate.
The dismantling of white supremacy, the elimination of systemic violence, the achievement of a reimagined future will only occur through sustained action and intentionality. We invite you to join us in this work and take one direct action step today: donate to Elephant Circle — a community-led organization committed to expanding our nation’s capacity to bring about birth justice.
The Uplift Laboratory at Oregon State University