Below is the full text of an email sent by former Yale School of Nursing DEI Director, Raven Rodriguez. As a current YSN GEPN Midwifery student, I received this email on 10/22/2020 and am reposting it with Raven’s permission.

Dear Students,

I am writing to you to inform you of my decision to immediately resign from YSN as Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I have reached this decision to prioritize my physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

My hope is that each of you included in this message knows that despite how hard whiteness has tried to center itself in anti-racism work, my work at YSN has always been about black people. I stayed at Yale for black people, and I am leaving Yale because of the way black people are treated. I am so deeply appreciative of all the wisdom and support you have shared with me on some of the most difficult days. I have learned from your expertise and admired your bravery in so many ways you are unaware of. …


It wasn’t always this way, in 2001, NYC had four free-standing birth centers and multiple within-hospital birth centers or midwifery-led care floors. Now, New York State has just three out of the 345 birth centers in the United States, with just two in New York City, both located in Brooklyn. New York City has one of the most staggering disparities in maternal mortality in the country, with Black people 12 times more likely than their white counterparts to die giving birth. New York State’s C-section rate is at 34.4%, ranking 40th out of the 50 states in the U.S. …


In Hyderabad, India, The Sanctum Birth Center is located on the first floor (second floor if you’re in the US) of commercial complex above with a Samsung showroom and a Cafe Coffee Day (the equivalent of a Starbucks). This center, all of maybe 10,000 square feet contains 6–8 labor rooms each with a tub, a single operating room, staff offices, a reception, a multipurpose room for yoga, gatherings and birth prep classes) and a pharmacy. Dr. Vijaya who is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and a non-nurse midwife has created an exceptional sanctuary where everyone can give birth, regardless of their level of risk. …


  • Travel to ‘Asia’, ‘Africa’, ‘South America.’


I wrote this letter in 2015 to a group of friends (mostly Americans, Canadians and Brits) who were traveling with me to visit India, many for the first time. Although some of the material is now dated, most of it remains (sometimes sadly) relevant. I hope it may serve as a useful guide for other travelers as well.

POLITICS

This is a great article about Narendra Modi, the current Prime Minister of India. It was written before he was elected and traces why the rise of the right wing Hindu government is very worrisome. While most people in India and around the world (President Obama included) laud the rise of this ‘new progressive India’ that is ‘open for business’, it has meant a Hindu nationalistic agenda that marginalizes minorities, is reigning back environmental safeguards, and wildlife protection, (for cobras and tigers for examples), curtailing academic freedoms, persecuting intellectuals, rewriting history, increasing surveillance and finally threatening and murdering opponents. The truly chilling part is that you’ll find most people have been swept up in nationalistic fervor and have conveniently forgotten the very recent ugly genocidal past. My opinion (as well as this author’s and those of most of my friends) is in the minority. …


  1. It’s very common but it is not normal. It occurs in 10% of new parents.


White feminism is a problem. For everyone.

On election day my feed swelled with images in tribute of suffragettes — protesting, advocating, wearing their whites. While I acknowledge the important work they did, we can do better.

We don’t need to stand on their deeply racist and white nationalist agenda. We can do better because we know better. And it is clear that without the support of the most marginalized, we’re not going to get anywhere. Our feminism must be intersectional. …


I recently spent a week at The Farm Midwifery Center in Summertown, Tennessee. For those of you who may not be familiar with The Farm — and with Ina May Gaskin — it has been a center for profound work in the birth field since 1970. …


Recently, a Muslim man was lynched by a Hindu mob for the crime of suspected possession of beef. A Dalit PhD scholar committed suicide after being expelled from a University for exercising his right to protest. The Student Body President of a nation’s leading university was arrested and jailed for protesting the injustices which lead to the suicide of that same PhD scholar. And a well-regarded secular intellectual was murdered in his home for pursuing research which questioned certain tenets of Hindu theology. …


For the record, being embarrassed by your dad is universal, regardless of the lungi, and has more to do with being a child than being Indian American. And Tamil may sound funny to Aziz Ansari, but it is one of the longest surviving classical languages in the world — along with Greek, Latin, Sanskrit and Chinese — has been in use since 500 BC, and is currently spoken by over 70 million people around the world. He doesn’t even bother to mention that Tamil is not the primary language spoken in Kerala, Malayalam is.

Had Aziz Ansari been digging into his roots in earnest, he might have arrived at something more like this. Instead, he chose not to examine at all the cultural, linguistic and historical significance of being a Tamil speaking Muslim from Kerala. Maybe that would be a good place to start if he is actually interested in understanding the ‘foreign’ concerns of his cousins. …

About

Neelu Shruti

NYC & India / Love Child / Not An Alien

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