New Documentary on Maternal Health Features Missouri Mothers and Organizations Committed to Bringing Forth Change for Black Birthing People
Birthing Justice screenings planned throughout April and May
COLUMBIA, MO (April 17, 2023) In partnership with Missouri Foundation for Health and the Mid-Missouri Doula Collective, Ragtag Film Society will host five free community screenings throughout Missouri of the new feature-length documentary, Birthing Justice. Missouri, one of the four primary regions explored in the film, has one of the highest Black maternal death rates in the country.
The film uses powerful first-hand stories to address the severe racial disparities Black birthing people experience in the health care system. Birthing Justice features Missouri nonprofits and experts who have dedicated their lives to changing the system that has perpetuated racism and implicit bias.
“We’re in crisis mode in Missouri and all over the country,” said Dr. Dwayne Proctor, President and CEO of Missouri Foundation for Health. “Structural racism in our health care system is killing Black mothers, simply because we have not figured out how to respect their experiences and elevate their voices. Monique Matthews and Denise Pines did a remarkable job bringing the stories of this movement to life, and we are excited to be a part of and support this amazing work of art.”
The film also highlights the importance and need for more culturally competent care for Black birthing people. More recently, there has been positive engagement and outcomes resulting from the increase and impact of Black birthing workers. Erica Dickson, founder of the Mid-Missouri Black Doula Collective, coaches and educates Black families, while advocating for Black birthing persons.
“I am really excited to bring my experience as a birthworker into various spaces across the state as we view this documentary, especially because we are ALL coming by way of a womb,” said Dickson. “My hope is that we leave the screenings asking ourselves, ‘What can I do to impact change in this area?’”
Each Birthing Justice screening will be followed by a community conversation moderated by Dickson and guided by local experts. There will also be a collection of resources for birthing people and those interested in joining advocacy efforts in their communities available at the events. Screenings have been set at the following partner venues, and further details can be found online at ragtagcinema.org/film-series/birthing-justice/.
April 24, 6:30 p.m. – Ragtag Cinema, Columbia, MO
May 3, 6:30 p.m. – Gem Theater, Kansas City, MO
May 18, 6:30 p.m. – Miner Convention Center, Miner, MO
May 22, 6:30 p.m. – Moxie Theater, Springfield, MO
May 25, 6:30 p.m. – Hi-Pointe Theater, St Louis, MO
The mission of the Ragtag Film Society is to captivate and engage communities in immersive arts experiences that explore assumptions and elicit shared joy, wonder, and introspection. Our flagship event is the True/False Film Fest that annually transforms Columbia, Missouri, into a nonfiction wonderland, while forging a supportive, celebratory refuge for filmmakers and amplifying the possibilities of what a festival can be; Ragtag Cinema, our year-round arthouse cinema, provides our regional community with vibrant, essential programming and, along with our building-mates (Uprise Bakery and Hitt Records), serves as a vital cultural hub in this Midwest college town.
The mission of the Collective is to do our part in improving outcomes for birthing persons, who the current data shows are more likely to have traumatic birthing experiences and higher maternal mortality rates. Founder Erica Dickson’s doula journey began after watching a news clip that discussed the maternal mortality rates amongst black women. She immediately began to brainstorm ways to help, and through her research, discovered birth workers and how impactful their work is. In late November 2020, Hakima Payne, Executive Director of Uzazi Village reached out and agreed to come and train a group of selected women. The women completed training in July of 2021 and immediately began working to form this collective in order to serve our community, with an emphasis on those that are impacted the most.