African American Babies Coalition Interview

Founded in 2008 by Sameerah Bilal-Roby, the goal of the African American Babies Coalition is to claim cultural heritage so that babies will thrive, excel, and lead the organization into the future. The organization aims to answer an important question: What discipline is good for kid behavior?

The following is an interview MPO’s high school interns conducted with the founder, Sameerah Bilal-Roby.

How was AABC founded? The organization was founded when allies European and African people started talking about gaps in education. Over time, AABC created various campaigns and summits to address these racial discrepancies and impact the community from the ground up through informal discussions and personal interviews. More recently, the AABC has been reaching larger audiences through their documentaries, such as their Upper Midwest Emmy-awarded documentary, Brains are Built. As of July 2020, the African American Babies Coalition is a program of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation.

What changes did AABC have to implement to adapt to Covid-19? During Covid-19, AABC was given a grant that allowed them to allocate resources for mothers and fathers in need. AABC was also able to bring people from the community to provide support for families.

What training does AABC offer? The community targets mothers and encourages them to maintain consistent perinatal and neonatal care. Many of the community project efforts are to raise awareness about Black and Brown babies dying. Another motivation is building knowledge and wisdom that is essential. Ms. Bilal-Roby states, “it’s important that [other communities] understand what communities of color and Indigenous go through and the treatment of our women’s right go through and treat our women right. Everyone needs to learn compassion and passion.” Therefore, training the health care field to understand culturally appropriate training that welcomes the mother’s interactions, traditions, and communications, are the main ingredients of sessions demonstrating that ‘respect’ is relevant to good health outcomes.

How can MPO/MNPQC help AABC with its mission? Like in any situation, AABC stresses the importance of actively listening to BPOC and Indigenous peoples when it comes to perinatal care desires. MNPQC, as well as any other organization, should always prioritize stepping back and truly understanding the experiences women share, rather than taking an overly-active stance in these communities. AABC also emphasizes the importance of partnering with community organizations, in order to truly impact BPOC and Indigenous on a personal level.

Finally, what is the goal of the annual newsletter? The goal of the African American Babies Coalition annual letter is to present projects to the community that targets mothers and encourages them to maintain consistent perinatal and neonatal care. Many of the community project efforts are to raise awareness about Black and Brown infant mortality and healthy birth outcomes. Another motivation is building knowledge and wisdom that is essential to families’ well-being.

For more information, or to see how you can help, please visit AABC’s newsletter or their website.

Interviewed by: Kavya Karthic Yoolee Yi MPO Interns