You may have seen this hashtag floating about on different social media outlets as of late -- but what exactly does it mean? In short, dozens of well-known, white celebrities are turning over their wildly popular Instagram accounts to a variety of influential, black women with the hope of boosting their voices to a broader audience.
In particular, Fountain Valley graduate, celebrity doula, and owner of the MamaGlow brand, Latham Thomas ’98 has been given the reins to actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s IG account. Thomas last graced our campus in 2017 as the featured speaker at the 87th FVS Commencement.
The images and captions below were posted to Gwyneth Paltrow's Instagram feed @gwynethpaltrow by Latham Thomas.
▲ Hi GP family, I’m @GlowMaven, founder of @Mamaglow. Thank you for being here today and for receiving me. I have dedicated two decades of my life to a career path in wellness. Self-care is my ministry and I’ve used my platforms and influence to lead in a space that has been dominated by white leaders.
I grew up in Oakland, CA and currently live in Brooklyn, NY with my 16-year-old son @fulanosworld. My birth with him was the inspiration for my company, Mama Glow. At Mama Glow we serve as support along the childbearing continuum, offering doula services for folks through pregnancy, birth, postpartum and during abortion and loss too. In addition to serving birthing people, we also run an incredible doula training program in NYC, LA, Miami and Paris. Since COVID-19 we have offered the game-changing Mama Glow Doula Homeschool online. We are so thankful to teach hundreds of people globally and our community is diverse in student body and in leadership.
As maternal health and birth activism is central to our work, I will be sharing and educating about some things we should all know about the maternal health crisis in our country and specifically how it affects black women. I am focused on the preservation of black life from birth, so I will be talking not only about the challenges we are currently facing but also how we can seek solutions together and dismantle the systems that keep black and brown people from living fully expressed lives. I am also here to speak about diversity and inclusion in wellness. This is a space that owes a lot to people of color and we can individually make a great impact and help advance black-owned wellness businesses and entrepreneurs in a tangible way and I’d like to point out some ways we can diversify and amplify. Gwyneth mentioned my book, OWN YOUR GLOW, which comes out in paperback on Tuesday. The book is rooted in self-care principals, ritual, meditation and reflections, its healing salve for this moment we are in, I can’t wait for you to dive in. #sharethemic #ownyourglow #mamaglow #glowmaven #lathamthomas
▲ BLACK LIVES MATTER. The movement for black lives is about preserving BLACK LIFE. There are real systemic barriers to the safety and preservation of black life. It’s about dismantling a system that is unfit to serve black and brown birthing people.
In the U.S., maternal mortality and morbidity disproportionately affect Black women at a rate of 4-5 times greater than white women. In New York City, Black women are 8 to12 times more likely than white women to die as a result of pregnancy & birth-related causes. In U.S there is a complex history of racial and ethnic bias that renders women of color and black women especially vulnerable during pregnancy, birth and the early postpartum period. It's not an issue of race, its racism. There are systemic inequities that lead to such disparities: poor access to adequate health care and insurance, medical racism, food deserts, red-lining and lack of intra-community resources, lack of generational economic mobility. Medical racism means black women are often neglected, micro-aggressed, underdiagnosed, untreated, dismissed, and perceived to have a higher pain tolerance than white women. This belief dates back to the 1700s in medical journals that described enslaved black women.
Black women are statistically more likely to experience comorbid illnesses and pregnancy complications, including higher rates of hypertension, asthma, placental disorders, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. These factors are exacerbated by the lived experience of racism. Chronic stress and intergenerational trauma impact our health and wellbeing. Higher education, economic stability and access to prenatal care improves the birth outcomes for white women but these factors don’t protect black women from maternal mortality, just ask @SerenaWilliams who nearly died after her daughter's birth.
We should all be furious that Black women are dying from preventable pregnancy-related causes. Until black maternal health is front and center as a human rights issue- it will only be seen as a black issue. If you consider yourself a feminist, an ally- this is your issue too. This is a problem for all of us. See stories for more. xo @Glowmaven
▲ Wellness is a 4.2 trillion dollar industry today. With new products and services entering the space almost daily. A growing number of women of color are establishing businesses and personal brands in the wellness space. Many of them are reclaiming their ancestral traditions that have been co-opted, appropriated, repackaged and sold online and in shops around the globe.
I’ve watched the wellness industry grow from the fringes to the forefront and I’ve also watched how even more exclusive it became. For years I would be the only black speaker or person of color invited to conferences or to speak on panels, and sometimes the only woman. The same for yoga spaces and meditation. I’ve been offered way less money to do the same job for something that I was overqualified for, which many black and POC wellness practitioners can relate to. There are so many overqualified teachers, speakers, leaders, who don’t get the recognition for their brilliance because they are black, or because of their size, etc. Its time to not only make space but make room - accommodate, celebrate and compensate.
While there are so many amazing companies and brands founded by black women and POCs, I wonder if you can name 10 such brands. It is really hard for businesses to scale when men get the lion's share of venture capital, with only 2% going to U.S.- based female-only founder teams. Of that 2%, women of color get only a fraction. And black women get even a tinier sliver. So even if you have an incredible business there are barriers to grow beyond your control.
That is why the first of today’s actions is for you to identify 10 black-owned wellness brands (these can be personal brands or companies), and start supporting them. Follow them on Instagram, (you can even tag some of your favorites below) join their mailing lists, purchase their products and services. If you have the ability to feature them or amplify them through media - do it! Next, lift brilliant black wellness leaders, pay for their products and services interview them for your media outlets, hire them for consulting, keynotes and panels. Invest in us. 🙏🏽 #sharethemicnow
▲ I just want to thank you all for receiving me today. I want to thank the goddess GP for entrusting her platform and community with me. I want to thank you all for your attention. This day was so incredibly powerful.. to see everyone engaged in listening and sharing brings me joy and also hope for that is possible when we come together collectively for a cause. This is my last post here but it's not the last you will hear from me. Tomorrow we will be making a collective action with #sharethemicnow at 2 pm ET so stay tuned. Gwyneth mentioned my new book "OWN YOUR GLOW" is coming out this Tuesday in paperback. Please support and spread the word. In this moment when we all need respite, this book is healing salve. I wrote it to remind us to slow down and embrace self-care as a pathway to empowerment. It's full of rituals, reflections and practices and journal friendly. You can swipe stories to get yours!
I want to remind us of some actions (full lists in stories) and feel free to chime in below with your takeaways:
Amplify diverse voices in wellness - support black wellness practitioners and black-owned wellness companies (see more in stories)
The Black maternal health crisis is a human rights issue - fight for birth justice for the improvement of black maternal health - align with and support black birth workers. Become a doula if you feel called or sponsor a birth doula in training at @mamaglow or another black-owned business centering this issue. (see more actions in stories)
Support the Movement for Black Lives. We are here in this moment because of all of the black lives lost. We lift Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and their families. Use your platforms, your voice your ability to show up to make a difference.
As painful as it is navigating this time, we are built to make it through. Remember to be tender with yourself. Remember that in order to show up you need to rest, reflect, take care. Please consider your boundaries, what you’re consuming and what’s consuming you. Self-care is critical right now. Big love to GP & the community! Passing the mic back to you Gwyneth!!!! xo @glowmaven #sharethemicnow