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January Member Spotlight: I Be Black Girl

After a lengthy hiatus we are bringing our monthly Member spotlights back to the blog! This month we are featuring I Be Black Girl, a reproductive justice organization based in Omaha. Read on to learn about the values that drive their work, the impact of their wide reaching program areas, and what they are looking forward to in 2024. 

So, what drives I Be Black Girl’s work? 

I Be Black Girl (IBBG), in their own words, is “a reproductive justice organization that leads with boldness, innovation, and inspiration, actively creating a radical change-making culture that centers Black women, femmes, and girls.” As an organization they seek to eradicate the barriers that affect their lives and make it possible, according to Aaliyah Samci, their communications strategist, “for Black women, femmes, and girls to authentically be.” Their work is driven by the voices of Black feminist and womanist thinkers, including Alice Walker, Audrey Lorde, and bell hooks.

Grounded in these beliefs, they conduct a holistic fight for reproductive justice that covers three main areas of work: advocacy and power building, economic justice, and birth justice. 

 Ensuring access to reproductive services: Birth Justice

One of the core program areas of IBBG is their birth justice work. Of this work, their Doula  Passage Program is a notable highlight in expanding accessible services to pregnant people in Nebraska. In 2023 they launched and trained their first cohort of doula care professionals in Omaha. Aaliyah Samci highlighted how this program lives at the center of the mission of their birth justice work. “Black maternal mortality has always been a serious issue which here at IBBG, is something that we care very much about, obviously. This is a big driver for our birth justice work because we want to see amazing Black births, because Black birth is art. We want to see successful Black births and happy parents with their babies. That’s why we continue this work.” 

Ashlei Spivey, the Executive Director of I Be Black Girl, was recently awarded the J.M Kaplan Innovation Prize for her contributions to creating a community birth workers and doulas who are able to earn a living wage and support Black people throughout their pregnancies and birthing journeys. This national fund celebrates the work of organizations that are making significant, lasting impacts on America’s most pressing challenges. 

The truly intersectional definition of reproductive justice that drives IBBG’s work was highlighted this past October during their first in-person Reproductive Summit. The event featured speakers from across the nation coming together to share and learn from one another. Aaliyah described it as “a space for people in all aspects of the reproductive justice field to come together for a day of learning and community building.” This was echoed by Taylor Givens-Dunn, Policy & Power Building Manager at IBBG. “One of the most impactful parts of the summit was being able to bring Black women from all over the nation and all different areas of work together in one place and have hard conversations.” 

She further found that “it was really special to see the mission of I Be Black Girl manifest during the conference and see all those bodies of work come together with a central theme of ownership, taking back our bodies, and being in our bodies in a safe, joyful, and liberatory way.”

Creating change at the legislature: Advocacy and Power Building

On the advocacy and power building side of their work, IBBG is focused on creating change at the Legislature that works with the current healthcare system. Taylor describes one of their goals at the Legislature as answering the question, “how are we creating and legislating health care so that it is accessible, while simultaneously considering economic justice reform?” Their work this year is primarily focused on LB1278 that would allow doulas to be covered under Medicaid which would provide more women in Nebraska with access to birthing services. 

According to Taylor “we see this as another aspect of making sure that when a person is birthing a child, they have all of the services that are available to them wrapped around them. We know that this is truly best practice. The states that have these full wraparound services see the lowest rates of maternal and infant fatality.” 

In addition to their legislative work, they are also highly involved with the Protect Our Rights ballot initiative campaign. Protecting the right to abortion is one of the top priorities for IBBG, find out more about their efforts to protect abortion access in Nebraska here. Further, led largely by Policy Fellow, Aleyah Smith, IBBG is working to improve the reproductive services currently provided to those currently incarcerated, specifically at The Nebraska Correctional Center for Women in York.

Supporting Black women businesses: Economic Justice

Last, but certainly not least, is IBBG’s economic justice programming. This month, they launched the first cohort of their Business Catalyst program. This provides training to Black women and femme business owners and entrepreneurs in the Omaha area to help them better succeed and thrive. All of IBBG’s current work can be characterized by growth and expansion, but this program area is one in particular that has huge opportunities to grow. 

Get involved with I Be Black Girl 

2024 for I Be Black Girl will be filled with new exciting programs and ideas to further reproductive justice efforts for Black women and femmes in Nebraska. They are opening a new space in North Omaha this spring which they hope will become a community space for resources, information and a safe, accessible space. Stay connected with I Be Black Girl by visiting their website and following them on social media. Keep an eye out for more information about their lobby day at the Capitol coming up on March 7th! 

Thank you to Aaliyah and Taylor for their insight into the incredible work that IBBG is doing for Black women and femmes in Nebraska.

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