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Voices of Birth Workers of Color

Updated: Feb 6, 2020

Our voices are our most powerful weapons. They hold the ability to communicate the most tender acts of compassion. They can also debilitate with violence. When we speak, sing, hum, breathe we push forward a continuum of ancient sound vibrations passed onto us from grand spirits that will intertwine with the movements of today, tomorrow and years coming. If we recognize voice with such power, we thus recognize the incredible injustice that is the silencing of ones voice. In curating Voices of Birth Workers of Color, I believe we are combatting this forced silence.

Voices of Birth Workers of Color communicates the motivations, inspirations and stories of 6 birth workers of color from Southern California. The words of the speaker are directly inserted in the first-person narrative and are placed upon a backdrop of indigenous textiles and patterns. An intention behind creating this zine was to provide folks with a beautiful resource that introduces them to the diversity in birth work itself as well as the terrifying statistics and lived realities that inspire us to do this work.

The following is the introduction of the zine written by me, Brenda Montaño:

At times, the spirit is born into a gentle humming silence, allowing their transition from the magic of the womb space onto earth to be of a patient kind, a kind that is of no hurry, that disregards the often oppressive nature of linear time. Their first sounds may be sounds of wonderment slowly escaping the lungs of people in the room. They will eventually hear a familiar sound, a voice calling their name, calling to them slowly, softly, quietly. The spirit will cry announcing their presence and that is how they will first learn to speak: in this room of listening ears, receiving them intently, carefully, without judgement, with patience, with love.

Most of us will not be born into this sacred room.

We will leave the bodies of our mothers to be touched by the sterile blue gloves of a man we will never know. We may be placed onto the naked chest of the person who birthed us, surrounded by unnerving beeps and clicks of mechanic monitors, our eyes pierced by an insolent white light hanging over our heads. Even this may not be gifted to us. Instead, our tiny bodies will be ripped from the warmth of the skin and we will be turned this way and that way, our legs spread apart, out arms flailing against probes and prods.

We will hear harsh voices as turbulent barks spreading the virus of fear- an airborne disease that suffocates us, suffocates me, my voice is silenced though I am screaming.

This is the world we are born into.

Sometimes. Most times.

My voice silenced, though I am screaming.

But we are not without hope.

Our vocal chords learn to strum songs that hold the power to heal the traumas of our birth, to soothe the baby’s battered soul and give rise to didactic words, complex sentences and lyrical genius that is now


We are birth workers of color and these are our voices, descendants of thousands years past. Listen and watch as it moves with gusts of winds that alter dead leaves on a dirty ground into golden lights displaying our names.

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