'We are going to take it into our own hands': Durham nonprofit provides financial relief for Black mothers at height of trauma

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Durham nonprofit organization is looking to save lives and improve maternal health outcomes for Black mothers and their babies.

National numbers show Black women earn about 63 cents for every dollar earned by a white man. Because of that wage gap, Black mothers have less support during childbirth and after. That's where Equity Before Birth is stepping in.

"We want to supplement that income to make sure you have that cushion to make sure you pay your bills, nurture your baby and heal from your birth event," said executive director Joy Spencer.
The organization, founded by Durham residents Emmy and James Eide, launched five months ago. The duo was thankful to have the financial support of each other after the arrival of their newborn. But it left them wondering about the many challenges facing black mothers, who often experience health disparities.

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"What are people who do not have this level of support who also have to deal with implicit bias and also have to deal with access barriers," said Spencer. "What are they doing?"

She knows what it's like to need a safe and healthy transition into parenthood and so does new Raleigh mom 25-year-old Taria Whitley, whose son was born prematurely.

"I honestly think I needed him more than he needs me," said Whitley. "I needed that extra time to mentally, physically and emotionally prepare myself for being a new mom."

Her job offers six weeks of maternity leave, which she says is not enough as she adjusts to motherhood. Equity Before Birth is supplementing her income for another six weeks as she stays home to bond with her son.


In addition to supplementing income for women in the Triangle for up to three months, the organization covers the costs of doulas, feeding support courses, transportation to appointments and a variety of other resources.

It was also named as a charity partner for President Biden's inauguration and received nearly $8,000 from that.

Birth Before Equity runs solely off of donations and aims to make an impact in the Triangle.

"We are not going to continue to ask for permission to save our lives and ask for better health outcomes. We are going to take it into our own hands," said Spencer.

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