The image came across my timeline, a photograph of a group of beautiful black women somewhere in what appeared to be a desert all dressed in white with camels both kneeling and standing around them. There was an undeniable regalness to the image – I was in the presence of black royalty. At first glance, I thought that I had seen an image like this many times before– of beautiful black professional millennial women gathering together abroad to celebrate life; but, the more I observed the picture the more something about this image was different than the ones I had seen in the past. Something about this photo beckoned me to look harder and dig deeper. Front and center, was a woman with a glow, in a white dress with the cape of a queen and the aura of an angel. It became clear to me that this was no ordinary picture, and that she was no ordinary person- she was as she appeared, an angel. And it became even clearer that this was no ordinary photograph- this was a celebration of life, legacy, sisterhood, and motherhood – in the Motherland.
The ladies of the BADST Beta Alpha Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated gathered in Marrakech, Morocco to celebrate 15 years of sisterhood, friendship, memories. For their ’05 line, this moment was about much more than capturing an image of all that could be seen in that moment– this moment was about holding on to the memory of a sister, their sister, one who they could no longer see- but whose presence in Morocco, and everywhere that they go, is undeniable. They fondly refer to their sister as Tee Jay. A few years ago, Tee Jay tragically passed as a result of maternal mortality an epidemic becoming all too familiar and specific to black women.
According to the CDC:
“Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native (AI/AN) women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women – and this disparity increases with age, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report today in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
Most pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. Racial and ethnic disparities in pregnancy-related deaths have persisted over time.
Pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 live births (the pregnancy-related mortality ratio or PRMR) for black and AI/AN women older than 30 was four to five times as high as it was for white women. Even in states with the lowest PRMRs and among women with higher levels of education, significant differences persist. These findings suggest that the disparity observed in pregnancy-related death for black and AI/AN women is a complex national problem.
“These disparities are devastating for families and communities and we must work to eliminate them,” said Emily Petersen, M.D., medical officer at CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health and lead author of the report. “There is an urgent need to identify and evaluate the complex factors contributing to these disparities and to design interventions that will reduce preventable pregnancy-related deaths.”
She Should Be Here.
In a beautiful message on her Facebook Page, her linesister, Tiffany Williams wrote:
This is 15.
We are together in the motherland – the birthplace of humanity, the home of our ancestors, celebrating 15 years of sisterhood in #DeltaSigmaTheta.
Today we elevate the national tragedy of #BlackMaternalMortality as we remember our linesister Tee Jay. We stand in the gap for the babies left behind, born to beautiful, worthy, resilient Black women, too often dismissed and undervalued. Women who have found themselves among the unfortunate group of new mothers six times more likely to die during and after childbirth. We fight for healthcare equity. #SheShouldBeHere
With grace and resilience, power and passion…
We’ve birthed our beloved children, and nurtured others.
We’ve birthed businesses and companies, academic accomplishments, creative arts and scholarly research.
We’ve protected and incubated the goals of the people we love.
We’ve birthed policy and led the call of justice and equality.
We’ve given birth to dreams.
We stand at the apex of what was and what is to come: For the ancestors who birthed nations and manifested these realities with their incredible tenacity and sacrifice.
For the descendants – generations who we have yet to welcome the world.
This is 15. We are Eclatient 55 of an Eminent Echelon.
#E55XV🇲🇦 #KnowUs™️ #BADST #FAMU #TodayTomaraForever #WeBirthNations #DeltaSigmaTheta #SororitySisters #QueensIntheMotherland👑
📸: @anass_walidi @bydre__ @madworksphoto
Happy 15th Anniversary to the BADST! And many blessings to our mothers and the Motherland.