Black Babies Awareness Month, a campaign to promote and center the needs of Black infants and toddlers, kicks-off November 1st. The initiative coincides with the release of the first-ever National Black Child Agenda.
Led by the Equity Research Action Coalition at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the new campaign calls for protecting, promoting and preserving the wellbeing of Black families and babies. There are 11.5 million Black babies in the U.S. Over 60 percent of Black babies live in families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which is more than double the rate for White babies (29 percent).
The Equity Research Action Coalition unveiled the National Black Child Agenda, an ambitious plan that calls for actions to dismantle structural racism and systemic inequities that have negative effects on Black children’s school and life success. The agenda was co-developed with research and child development experts from the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI), the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and POINTS of ACCESS, LLC.
The agenda asserts that Black families are better supported when there is a strategic focus on designing systems, and implementing programs and interventions that build upon the cultural assets and strengths of Black families. It calls for promoting Black children and their families’ economic security, health and access to quality early learning opportunities, while also preserving their cultural identity and heritage. Black families and babies experience multiple adversities prior to and after birth, but the cultural wealth of Black families has proven to be transformative in navigating against structural racism and other negative experiences.
The Black Babies Awareness Month campaign will include an open virtual roundtable with key experts to share recent research, the national policy agenda for Black children, a social media toolkit and calls-to-action for the public to get involved.
“For every parent, our precious Black babies are our pride and joy and they are more than deserving of the warm, safe and nurturing caregiving that will contribute to their health and long-term brain development,” states Equity Research Action Coalition Founder Dr. Iheoma U. Iruka. “We hope that Black Babies Awareness Month and the National Black Child Agenda together will build national public awareness around the issues that impact them the most, and lead to a concerted push for inclusive policies that will improve their life outcomes.”
“When you think about it, our children exist in a duality of ‘the land of opportunity,’ and ‘the home of racism and debilitating inequities,'” said NBCDI CEO and President Dr. Leah Austin. “This ground-breaking agenda reflects a post-2020 America, and serves as a launchpad for empowering advocates and communities everywhere to better serve the needs of the 21st century Black child,” she continued.
The resource identifies ten pressing policies of focus such as child tax credits, universal access to early childhood education and culturally-responsive training.
Ten Policies of the National Black Child Agenda:
- Maintain child tax credits and income supports
- Address racial disparities in wages and career advancement opportunities
- Invest in Black-owned and Black-led businesses, organizations and institutions
- Expand the Family and Medical Leave Act
- Expand health insurance
- Expand universal access to early care and education
- Address harsh discipline practices
- Ensure equity in early intervention and special education
- Ensure culturally responsive curriculum and practices through workforce development and training
- Pass reparations
Research on Black Babies and Families:
The Equity Research Action Coalition also recently released the report “Black Parents and Their Babies: Attending to the First 1,000 Days.” The research explores quality of life, racial trauma and socio-economic issues in greater detail. It includes first-hand accounts and action items from Black families. The report surveyed Black parents on a weekly basis from May through December of 2020, and incorporates data from the RAPID-EC project at the University of Oregon. The report provides three essential recommendations:
- Protecting Black babies and their families from racism, discrimination and material hardship is necessary to ensure babies thrive throughout their life course
- Promoting economic security, health and access to early learning opportunities is essential to mitigate against the biological and social vulnerability Black babies and their families face due to racism, discrimination and bias
- Preserving Black babies’ cultural identities in the early years is as essential as the “three Rs” of reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.
To read the full report and learn more about Black Babies Awareness Month, visit the Equity Research Action Coalition’s website.