From a Planned HomeBirth to a Preemie Hospital Birth
Episode 1: Whitney’s Journey: From Planned Homebirth to Preemie Birth
It’s hard to imagine how planning for a homebirth with a Black midwife turned into a birth in a hospital operating room with doctors, specialists and strangers. In my debut episode, I talk with Whitney Robinson, who shares a moving birth story that shows that circumstances don’t always define joyful experiences–sometimes it’s all about having the right support and bringing the soul.
My guests today are Whitney and her husband Charles Robinson; Ami Goldstein (the “accidental nurse midwife” who just happened to be on call the night Whitney went into labor) and Tina Braimah (Whitney’s homebirth midwife) of Sankofa Birth and Women’s Care. You don’t want to miss this story!
In my debut episode I’m interviewing Whitney Robinson, a design-loving product manager and mother of four. As with her other children, Whitney’s planned a home birth, but 25-weeks into her pregnancy she went into premature labor and, with her husband and support team, she was determined to turn the unthinkable into an unapologetically Black experience. And with that, found her joy.
- Stark racial disparities exist in pre-term births. For example, in 2019, the rate of preterm birth among African-American women (14.4%) was about 50 percent higher than the rate of preterm birth among white or Hispanic women (9.3% and 10% respectively). Source: CDC: Reproductive Health
- Learn more about having a safe and empowered birth by downloading the free ebook: Birth with Irth: A Mini-Manual to Pregnancy and Childbirth for Black People
- Get full episode details and transcripts (posted by midday) on BirthrightPodcast.com
- New episodes are released every other Wednesday! Subscribe now!
- Follow Kimberly Seals Allers on Twitter on Instagram: @iamKSealsAllers
- Birthright is funded by the California Health Care Foundation.
Birthright Episode 1: Whitney’s Journey: From Planned Homebirth to Preemie Birth
Whitney Robinson They’ll go back and say, “did you see the, were you in there when that black girl was dancing during labor?” Or, like, you know, like, “did you see her get on all fours in the OR?” You know, that’s the stuff that I want them to go back and tell their children’s children. Don’t, you know, “I once witnessed this happen and it’s possible.”
Kimberly Seals Allers Welcome to birthright, a podcast about stories of joy and healing in Black birth. My name is Kimberly Seals Allers and I’m here to help Black women and birthing people reclaim joy as our birthright and to lean in and learn from positive black birth stories. Today, I’m talking to Whitney Robinson, who is a design loving product manager and founder of the Renée, a maternal health solutions lab.
But while Whitney is passionate about reducing maternal disparities, she found herself living through one. When she had an extreme preterm birth at a hospital during the pandemic, when Whitney planned to give birth at home. Yet, somehow, some way, and through all of this unexpectedness, Whitney found her joy.
Whitney My name is Whitney Robinson. I’m 35 years old and I’m currently based in Durham, North Carolina… for now. I’m a mother of actually five but four that are living. And this is my very crazy, but beautiful, birthright story. So, I’ve loosely planned my births, I should say. I’m the type that I feel like the more planning I do, the least likely it will happen, but in the past I’ve had two home births, two hospital births, one, the first being a loss.
And so this time I thought, Oh, you know, this one being our last child, of course, I wanted to end on a home birth. And so I did all the things that I did last time when I found out I was pregnant, I immediately go looking for my midwife. And this time I actually found a black midwife who was doing home birth. So I was extremely excited about it and she was fantastic.
Tina Braimah My name is Tina Braimah and I am a certified nurse midwife in Durham, North Carolina, and the owner of San COFA birth and women’s care. So, I’ve been practicing on my own in my own practice for about three years. And my story is a little bit different from most black women, birth workers or BIPOC birth workers.
Whereas most people have had a bad experience and they come in and say, Oh, I want to keep people from having the experience that I had. I had wonderful births. Every last one of my births was wonderful. Three at home, one in the hospital with midwives. And my thing was, I want women to have the same experience I had.
I want them to feel empowered. I want them to have autonomy over their birth, to birth, where they want with who they want. And so that’s why I became a midwife. And so my goal and what I think most midwives are, we want to meet women where they are. Women or birthing persons. You know, we want to help them have the birth experience that they want to be able to make knowledgeable decisions and informed decisions throughout the process.
And so I feel like that is why people come to us. And, you know, once I, when I started doing my own home birth practice, I started asking clients like, what did, what did having a home birth mean to you? Or what do you feel like you would have lost by not having a home birth? And one person summed it up,
She said “everything.”
Whitney So we did as usual, I’m proud of all the things that I would typically do. We got to the point where we’re talking about, you know, where, where am I going to put my birthing pool? Everyone was in place. There wasn’t much to go through because I had done this before several times, but there was one day where I noticed, you know, Hmm. Things are feeling different. And I guess the beauty of having well, not, I guess, I know the beauty of having a midwife is that they are on call for you, you know, and especially, especially at that time, like when you’re like, if you have any kind of mishaps, or you’re not sure you have to call the doctor’s office and then wait for someone to call you back.
But I sent a text to my midwife saying, you know, this is the discharge that I’m seeing this morning. What do you think? And it was tinged with like a brown and I knew it wasn’t normal. And so she sent me a text back saying, “Whitney, that that looks like mucus plug. You have to go to the hospital immediately.”
And I’ve… I broke down. I actually looked at my husband and I said, I can’t do this. And if you remember, I mentioned I had a loss. Where I actually lost, we lost our first child around the same period of time in our early 20 weeks. I was 25 weeks pregnant this time. But I didn’t want to move because I felt like if I moved, I would have to go to the hospital.
If I go to the hospital, I’m losing. But if I stay here, I can’t deliver a 25 week baby at home. And so my husband just said, look, you know,” do you want me to pray for you?” And I said, “just do whatever.” I couldn’t even think straight. I just felt like what I really need is my midwife to come to me right now and just give me the biggest hug and just say, “Whitney, you can do this.”
I just, I could not quite wrap my brain around what was about to happen. And so we prayed, we called my parents because my kids were in school. We sent a family text saying someone’s going to pick up the kids. I’m headed to the hospital. When I got to the hospital, I just felt like I was going into someone else’s home and whatever they wanted to happen to me, was going to happen.
And I think because I’m already so intertwined in the maternal health space, I went in on the defense, like, all right. At home, I can be vulnerable. It’s my space. But now, I need to make sure I have my, you know, my guard up, my fist up, I’m ready to, to like combat everything that is said to me that feels off.
I’m going to have to spend energy on the flip side, in my plan, the energy would have gone into my birth. It was, it would have helped me to move through labor pains, etc.
Um, and so we got there and then all the things happened. So, oh, you know, “What’s your name?”,“What’s your insurance?” all these things that I’m just like, Oh my goodness. I am so human.
And I’m sitting here and I’m afraid, but I need to recall my insurance information and all of these things. Um, and then they did the ultrasounds and said, you know, it’s not looking so good. He’s, he’s laying traverse. And, um, you can’t deliver that way. We’d have to do a
C-section, you know, Whitney, but a few things we’re going to try to stop the labor, going to give you magnesium drip, you know, all of the things like at that point, You know, we say advocate for yourself, but when it just really starts going, it’s hard to think.
And especially my husband and I, Charles, he and I were just like, wait, how did we just end up here? When yesterday, you know, we were on this home birth track.
Charles Robinson My name is Charles Robinson. I am 34 years old. I live in Durham, North Carolina. I’m married to Whitney Robinson and a father of four little ones, Samuel, Isaac, Maverick, and Elijah.
So, we went into the hospital as, you know, just a normal check. We didn’t expect it to turn as it did, but when we realized that it was going down that path, you know, I just looked at her and I said, we’re going to fight. And if we’re together, if we’re together, we’ll be able to do this together. So it was one of those things where we knew that if we stood together and we fought together and we had each other’s back, whether she was tired, I talked to her before about the plan she wanted to have if we were in this type of situation.
So when she was tired, really didn’t want to fight with the nurses or the doctors about what she wanted. I was in lock and step to be able to stand in and say, “no, this is not happening, we’re going to do it this way.” And also I think, you know, I’m a spiritual person. I think there a lot to have to do with God.
The role of black men in birth is, you know, to have those conversations. Over communicate about what is it that you want? Like, tell me, like, if it comes hell or high water, like And, and I lucked up because Whitney’s always talking about it. You know what I mean? She’s always talking about what she wants.
So just being an active participant in the story on how you want the play to play out. And if it doesn’t go the way you want it, start to pulling cast members, as much as you can to make that story play out the way that you guys had talked about it over and over and over again.
Whitney I ended up on a magnesium drip that.
That if you’ve ever heard of what that feels like or know what it feels like, what it’s like fire going through your veins is you kind of get loopy. It’s not a good feeling, but we did everything we could to stop the labor. That very next morning, the contractions felt different.
And that’s when I started to really think, you know, I’ve, I’ve done all that I can. I don’t think I’m going to be able to hold this child in. And so early that morning, Ami walks in.
Ami Goldstein My name is Ami Goldstein. I’m a certified nurse midwife. I’m also a family nurse practitioner. And I currently work in Durham at a full scope family medicine clinic, and provide care both in clinic and in the hospital for laboring families.
Whitney I knew Ami because of my last home birth. She also randomly walked in on my last home birth. Wasn’t supposed to be there, but the midwife on call knew that I was out to deliver so quickly. So she, she phoned a friend who lived close to me and that was on me. Ami runs in my house, this my last birth. And I just kind of like, Oh, you know, wow.
Um, but she walked in this time, but this time in a hospital and she said to me, something like “Whitney, I saw your name on a board.” And it had been three years. I hadn’t seen her talk to Ami. She said, “I saw your name on a board and I recognize that name.” And she walks in and she’s like, what are you doing here? And I say to her, what are you doing here? Like, how does this, how are you walking in, in a hospital this time to my room!? And it’s been three years!? But she, we just looked at each other and we caught up. I forgot that I was in early labor, preterm labor. And we talked and we talked and we talked about the state of midwifery in the South. We talked about the concentration of midwives in the South, the history, she talked about some projects she’d been working on and interested in, and we just, you know, you shoot the breeze and we were shooting the breeze. And I think the nurses were like, You know, what’s going on? When should we say something?
Ami, I know she sat with me for at least an hour, which is what I’m accustomed to when I have a midwife out of hospital. And there was a point she was like, “Whitney, I have other patients. Let me go check. I’ll be back.” And she did. She stayed true to her word. And it’s when she came back, she asked me about my home birth midwife, who she knew.
She said, have you called her to tell her to come. I said, yeah, sure. She’s gonna come. Um, my husband was sitting there and so, uh, there was a point where we were all just talking and then my home birth midwife walks in. Y’all, we are just like, again, shooting the breeze. And I know there was a point where I could feel like, again, through it, all the contractions started to get heavier.
And so one of the things that I typically do in full blown, full term, labor is. I get on my, you know, I just kinda get in position, but I thought, you know, if I want to slow this labor down, let me get on all fours to let gravity work against me. Like I, I actually got in like a polar bear, so hips up, chest on my bed, just so you have gravity work against me a little bit. Just like, uh, hold on. I just kept thinking if you can hold on a little bit, maybe you can buy you five more weeks. That’s what I kept thinking. Five more weeks, even though it feels like it’s about to happen, you can buy yourself five more weeks. I was willing to do it.
And so we continued to talk and then I stepped away to the bathroom and as I walked, blood just started coming down. And I looked back at the two midwives in the room. I didn’t say anything. I just looked at them. I don’t even remember saying anything, but I looked at them and then they said, that’s a bloody show, Whitney, you’re right. You’re going to have this baby today. I went to the bathroom. Charles came with me. He helped me sit on the toilet, wipe myself. And I just said to him, you know, “I don’t know that I can do this, but I don’t think I have any other choice.” We [00:14:00] walked back out. I got on the bed and I bottomed out.
I started crying. My husband was saying, “Whitney, you got this, you’ve done this many times.” Or he would say things like, um, because Charles is just like, he’s so competitive. “We Robinsons. What do Robinsons do?!”, “We Robinson’s, we know we got this.” you know, kind of thing.
Charles There’s this saying. You say bar none-fade all. And what that means is in a nutshell is like, there is no bar I will not take it. And fading is a type of word for, for fighting and if, no matter how high or how hot the situation would be, I would, I would fight to the, to the end, even if it killed me, I was like, in my eyes, I would, I was ready to die both for my wife and my kid. And I know it comes off as very, as aggressive. So. I don’t want to paint a picture for everyone because everyone has a more, a soft hand approach to it. But, uh, for me, that was the first thing. Like I locked in and I looked around and saw who was in the room. Um, and I told everybody to leave. Uh, that was the first thing I did. I tell everybody to leave because you know, they, they’re obviously trying to say, Hey, we need to make the decision, let’s make decisions now.
And I’m like, stop, everybody get out. So when we got out I held Whitney and she began to cry and as I was holding her and I said, Elijah is going to live and that are going to fight to the end of it. And I’m not going nowhere and you’re not going nowhere. We’re going to have this baby. And every single day, we’re going to fight until he comes home.
And that’s all in while she’s crying. I said, look at me. And I stare at her deep in her eye. And I said to her, we are going to fight until he comes home. And I didn’t lose, lose my stay and we both were crying and we continued to cry. And so she was, she was ready.
Whitney I just, it was everything. I needed everything I needed to push there [00:16:00] and we played some, I don’t remember what we played, but some spiritual music.
And I, Ami, we, we all just cried and it was really special because I don’t know that I don’t know that I could have even pushed past that moment unless I had those people right there holding me and crying with me. And so we cried and we cried. And then that’s when Ami who’s seen me labor before she looked at me, she said, okay, she looked at the nurse and said, you know, Whitney labors quickly. So we need to go ahead and get the team down here.
And the nurse was like, Oh, okay. So she went out, came back, we’re talking a few more minutes. The team’s still not there. So. I mean, it says, you know, where’s the team like what’s going on? And I look at Ami and I’m like, yeah, this is about to happen. And I, and this can’t obviously this can’t happen in this room.
I needed to be somewhere because I was about to have an extreme preemie. So, Ami, turns it up, “Get that team in here! Where are these people? You know, come on. I just remember her demanding, like I hear y’all, but this is, she has quick labors with full term babies. Imagine how quickly this could go.”
Finally, the team rolls in, I forget the guy’s name, but he introduces himself and says, Whitney, this is what we’re about to do. I remember them rolling me down a hallway and I’m just looking at the lights. You know, like the hospital lights one by one, I may have even counted them as we were going down the hallway and they rolled me into this big room.
I just remember it was lined with people in green hospital attire. Must’ve been nurses, doctors, who knows, they didn’t introduce themselves to me, but it was a room full of people and big spotlight, like TV, like Grey’s Anatomy type. And I looked at my people. So I consider my people, Charles and the two midwives.
So we demanded everyone being in that room. They were like, Oh, you know, you can’t have that many people in the, OR, Oh no, no, no. I need all of these people in here. There are no questions about it. Everyone was able to come in, you know, and. I looked at them and I said, I can’t do this in here. I can’t, I can’t deliver in here.
And, Ami was just like, Whitney, you have to. And so someone in the room, I don’t know who said Whitney, do you want to hear some music? And that someone was singing my love language? Cause I thought, yes, play Barry White, “Your sweetness is my weakness”. Okay. I don’t know why that song was like a thread from the time I found out I was pregnant to this, but it was the one that I recall.
Ami I just remember her being in that OR and snapping her fingers and singing along and being held by her husband. And. Oh, my gosh. You know, like the love in that room is… she was just, it was amazing. And, and to me, that’s, you know, that’s what bringing a baby. Into the world is all about, right. It should kind of be like what, how they got there in the first place.
Charles They started playing the music. Then I could see she’s kinda like getting her thing on, her groove on, when she’s like laughing, snapping her fingers. Meanwhile, I’m in lockstep. I’m not doing the bouncing in anything like that. I’m squeezing her hand while she’s like snapping and bouncing and everybody’s jovial.
Whitney And it’s just something about I can’t sing, but it’s just, you know, it’s the trumpets and it’s the way he says your sweetness is my weakness (Barry White music plays in background as Whitney sings along) Yeah. Yeah.
I just started dancing and Um, the midwife, Tina was behind me. Tina was a home birth, like she was kind of to my right. It’s behind me. My husband was here at my head. Ami was close to my belly and then the doctor, the male doctor. And so we just did it. I was on my back, which felt very unnatural.
I remember someone, um, there was someone, a nurse saying to me, Whitney, we think we can give you some payments. I told her I don’t worry about it. And she asked me several times, which really annoyed me, but he said, leave her alone. She’s got it. Like leave her alone. She’s got it. And then, and then the doctor was pressing, you know, they have to do the monitor.
Fetal monitor. They were listening and he was pushing it. Yeah. Every time I had a contraction, he would push into, with the monitor, push on my uterus. And I was like, dude, I have no idea what you’re trying, but that hurts really, really, really, really bad. Like, like I just told him, I really need you to not push down so hard on my uterus. And, uh, he lightened up, though, and…. I just danced and I remember just Whitney, I kept telling myself, if you can just catch the beat, you can make it through this. And it, I mean, it hurt like a big baby. And so I ended up, uh, saying or thinking or whatever. Oh, let me flip over, to my all fours, I’m going to, let me deliver that way.
And so I flipped on all fours and I just began to let it happen. Like it was coming. I could feel him. I remember there was a point, you know, I was still kind of taking my time to pace myself. And Ami said to me, Whitney, you’ve got to, you’ve got to push him out. And she gave me, she gave me that look like, do you get what I’m saying?
Like, we’re in an OR they’re not gonna let you sit here and just do them. And I looked at her and I either said, or I gave her the eye, like, Oh, I got it. And that was when I was like in two, push out. It had to have been two or three pushes where I had him out. So I remember watching Elijah come out, I looked down and he was suspended in water.
And one of the common threads that I’ve said with all of my children too, is that I have this connection with water for all of them. And so like even my last baby, Maverick, her middle name means Dew of heaven and dew is like the most precious, delicate form of water to me. Right? It just lays on top of the grass and it’s just, you know, almost like droplets.
Right. And so I remember watching him come out that way. It was fast. But I remember just seeing the beginning of it. I was like, wow, you know what, how precious? And, and I remember the doctor saying to me, you know, Whitney, if you can keep him coming out this way, I don’t know how I can do that, but if you can keep him coming out of his sack, it will protect him.
Ami So one of the things to know is that the resident physicians at Duke, All are trained by nurse midwives and nurse practitioners in their first year or two attend births. And depending on who they are, they work with us differently over time. Like some folks feel like they like the nurse midwives, nurse practitioners help them out.
And some of them feel like we are collaborating partners. And I will say that. Luke, the, um, resident physician who actually caught Elijah is someone who is very respectful and deeply respectful of what midwives bring and what they do in the moments of birth. And he gets that and he’s always been like that.
He definitely, like, if he sees that you have a relationship with someone who is in labor, he’s not going to get in between that he’s going to work together in a collaborative way. And so I think part of that is developing the relationship with the other providers so that you [00:24:00] can be more flexible when you have these situations.
Kimberly In many places, Luke is an anomaly. And the relationship AMI is describing is even more of an anomaly. The history of midwifery and medical doctors is not exactly collegial. Unfortunately, the rise of the medicalization of birth led to the criminalization of midwives. In the US in the early 1900s, around half of all births were attended by midwives, but by 1937, that number had dropped to under 13% though midwives was still used in more than half of all black births around the turn of the century, the white male medical establishment started to elevate the importance of obstetrics in the eyes of practitioners, medical students, and really calling for the gradual abolition of midwives and larger cities.
This was seen in multiple papers, particularly one published by Jay Woodridge Williams physicians actually actively advocated for the elimination of quote unquote granny midwives, which was a term that was used in the South in reference to the black midwives. This was seen in many medical journals and in 1915, for instance, prominent obstetrician Joseph D. Lee referred to midwifery as a relic of barbarism.
As a result, sociologists have noted that women of color suffer devaluation and stigmatization and were viewed as illegitimate medical practitioners. Ami also tells me that
Ami There were 5,000 midwives in the state of North Carolina. And if you look at the statistics for North Carolina from 1925 through the fifties, the majority of women of color, and especially in rural communities were attended by midwives. And midwives over time were systematically eliminated through basically the public health system.
Given that history, what Whitney is experiencing is pretty incredible and a model of what practitioners can really do.
Whitney Because he’s so small. And like the, you know, the trauma, I don’t know, trauma is the right word, but all the force that happens on a little preemie coming through, you know, your cervix water being around him, protects him from all of that. And so. I, I don’t know that I was, I, you know, intentionally thought, okay. Cause how can I do that intentionally? Like, don’t burst, you know, but I do remember seeing him come out that way and just being really in, awe, and that was it. It was over, I flipped over and obviously the moments that I didn’t get to do were hold my child, you know, they whipped him away quickly.
And I, I just screamed, but without sound, I just screamed because I think at that moment, I kinda lost my mind. Just from all the last couple, two days, everything built up, everything was so it wasn’t, it again, it just, wasn’t the way that I saw it happening. And I’ll, and I’ll say though, that the fact that I had a team of two midwives and my husband as my birthing team in the OR with a 25 weeker, it to me feels unheard of, you know, what I think, what I’m hoping is that the people who were this kind of the, I think a lot about the people on the wall who were just watching and how they could see that not all black women, that black women don’t, you know, I just feel like there’s a, let me say it this way… I’m hoping that they see the woe is a black woman in birthing is not always the case. And I am not saying I was performing from that for them, but I was very mindful of the amount of people in the room and the people who were not, who did not look like me and who probably don’t get an opportunity to see someone who’s like, I’m gonna make this whole birth in the, OR of the culture. It is going to feel blackity black, black, black. And I just need y’all to know it. On top of I need you to see what it looks like, how important it is to have a support team. Like these are the things that I’m hoping they see and these are the things that gives me joy.
That they actually saw. What it looks like for Black woman to deliver the way I did, but not because I was my own person and doing my own thing, but because I had another black woman midwife, a midwife that was with the hospital and a blackity, black, black man who were like surrounding me. Like this, wasn’t just what y’all think we come in and all, she probably don’t have support, and she probably this and all the assumptions that you would’ve made. No, no, no, no, no. That’s not the case here. So that gives me joy that day. That I could have showed off a little bit, you know, they won’t be able to go back and say, woe is me. They’ll go back and say, did you see the, um, were you in there when that black girl was dancing during labor?
Or she like, you know, like, did you see her get on all fours in a OR? You know, that’s the stuff that I want them to go back and tell their children’s children. Don’t, you know, I once witnessed this happen and it’s possible. Like, I hope, I hope I just shattered whatever stereotypes they may have or could have thought. Anybody in the room, anyone that’s what gives me joy that I had an opportunity to do it that way.
When my understanding is at least from, even Tina, who’s home birth midwife, she was like, Whitney, what you got people don’t get. And so I’m, I’m very fortunate that we have that opportunity.
Kimberly Whitney, I close each podcast asking Black birthing people, this question, what is our birthright? What’s your answer to that?
Whitney I think the birthright is receiving double for our trouble. And that is for our trouble. Our mama’s moms and ancestors and whoever they’re troubled through burn, then now we are on the cusp of receiving double for that in blessings. And children that are coming into the world, solving the problems, are being creative and people just creating things that we’ve been waiting for for a long time, that, those are the children that’s coming.
And you, Tina?
Tina Tapping into our power. It is pulling from all the things that our ancestors have gone through that women in this country we know the granny, midwives and midwives who used to support women, all of that, you know, so. Being able to tap into that and go into an experience and, and have the birth that you want, knowing that you are supported, knowing that there were no necessary interventions, knowing that your voice was heard.
And I’m going to go out and say, being surrounded by people who look like you, you know, cause that’s, that’s a huge piece. We know that, um, midwives make up such a small percentage of the workforce, Black midwives and brown midwives that it’s disproportionate. So increasing those numbers and making the services that I give and the services that my sister midwives give available to more women is what our birthright is.
Kimberly Whitney and I are having this interview while she is breastfeeding Elijah as his first birthday approaches. You might think that you can’t have joy when your baby is born unexpectedly at 25 weeks during a global pandemic and in a place you never planned for, but for Whitney, baby Elijah’s sweetness is definitely her weakness.
Thank you so much for listening to birthright. I’d like to thank all the guests we heard from today. Whitney and Charles Robinson, Ami Goldstein, and Tina Braimah. Birthright is hosted by me, Kimberly Seals Allers and produced by Domino Sound. Our executive producers are Noleca Radway and Kimberly Seals Allers. Randie Chapman produces the show with Nikki Valdez as assistant producer and help from Homero Radway. Sound design and engineering by Sam Baer with original music from Trel Robinson.
Birthright is funded by the California Healthcare Foundation. If you like what you heard today, please rate, review and subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple podcasts, or wherever you listen.
It really helps people find the show. Thanks for listening. . .
Whitney is a design lovin’ Product Manager who is obsessed with seeing maternal experiences improve for Black and brown folks. She is a mom of 4, founder of The Renee, and currently based in Durham, NC. Whitney holds a CS degree from Duke and is a leather craftswoman in her free time. Follow Whitney at @_therenee on Instagram and Twitter.