I am a mother, a woman, and a doula. I am also African-American and a Baton Rouge resident.
The recent tragic death of Alton Sterling, which happened here in the very city I live, has me heartbroken and afraid. This is the city I choose to live in, to raise my son in, and to make a living in. I support other families as they grow and plan to do the same.
When you hire me to be your doula that is who I am. In that moment I am there to support you and I leave my personal life at the door. You may not know much about me and I may not know very much about you. But I will know that you are in need. In those moments, I may see your pain, your hope, and your joy. I will be there with you in the moment and give you nonjudgmental support. My life and my birth may be nothing like yours, yet I will stand with you, hug you, or hold your hand. I will share in your experience and smile and enjoy it, but it is not mine.
When I leave, I will go home to my own family and I will be a mother.
Being a mother is my most important role. I love what I do as a doula, but I do it for my family. I work hard so that my son can have a life filled with love and security, as well as food and shelter. Yet, I don’t do it with the same confidence I bring to a client’s birth or home. I am afraid that no matter how hard I work that I will not get to see my son grow to become a man. This is a valid fear that I carry with me that is validated by the killings I see on social media and the news. Now I see it happening in my own city.
I want to hold the hands of the African-American community and Baton Rouge residents and tell them it will be okay. I want them to know I acknowledge their pain and their hope for peace. I want them to know that I support them because that is what you do for people in need. Even if you don’t know them or you cannot relate to their experiences that are not yours.
It is my belief that when people say that black lives matter, it doesn’t mean others don’t. Instead it means see me, stand with me, support me, and hold my hand. It equates to feeling compassion for the family member someone lost. Most importantly, express empathy for the pain being experienced by the family or community.
Everyone has an opinion. Our experiences filter and shape these opinions. However, the one thing we have in common is that we are humans who have families.
Everyone can relate to the idea or the reality of losing a loved one. When you see that someone else is experiencing a loss, I hope you leave your opinions at the door. See they are in need. Give them nonjudgmental support. When you walk away and return to your normal life you can pick your opinions up again. It is expected that you value your own life and loved ones. But in someone else’s time of need, understand that you are not the focus, but you still matter.
It is my hope that as a human race we start to support the growth and love of everyone’s families so that no one has to be afraid to lose someone that they love.
This article is written by our amazing doula Khayriyyah Cutno.