Jarvis DeBerry writes, “[…] in the U.S., neither a Black woman’s money, education or status serves as protection from mistreatment in labor and delivery. Financially secure Black women with Ivy League degrees have to worry just like those with less money and education if doctors or nurses will do (or not do) something that costs them their lives or their babies’ lives.”

Over the last two years, under the leadership of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Director Robert Gordon, Michigan made it easier to get and keep important benefits. The state now provides additional resources to low-income individuals, seeks to treat residents with respect and has reduced pointless complexity. Many challenges remain and the department’s new leader, Elizabeth Hertel, has an opportunity to accelerate these improvements.

Inforum Michigan, a leading women’s organization, was recently holding a virtual information session to discuss the issue of sexual assault when Kalimah Johnson happened to stumble on the conversation via social media.

Given that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who is African American, was a featured guest, Johnson was interested in the presentation since she counsels sexual assault victims. So she stopped to check it out. Worthy provided her perspective and shared her efforts to bring justice to victims, but only four of the 14 women serving as ambassadors were Black.

Among bills introduced by the Michigan Legislature this month, gay conversion therapy would be prohibited for minors under SB 367, sponsored by Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak), or HB 4651, sponsored by Rep. Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield). At least three Michigan cities have previously banned the practice, which, according to the Human Rights Campaign, falsely claim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.