As brisk winds, crisp leaves and flavorsome smells fill the air, the Equity Research Action Coalition at Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill wants the people to add gathering in awareness of Black babies and families to their November holiday to-do list.

“November’s the time where we’re all kind of feeling that energy of, ‘Oh my goodness, Thanksgiving is coming.’ We’re going to have that big macaroni and cheese, ham and turkey and come together and just basically laugh and have joy with our families and those that we love. Part of Black Babies Awareness Month is that we have to love our babies and love our family. [November’s] just really a good time to really appreciate what we have and understand that Black babies’ lives matter. That includes the families of the babies but also those who take care of them,” said Research Action Coalition founder Dr. Iheoma U. Iruka.

“The Equity Research Action Coalition co-constructs with practitioners and policymakers actionable research to support the optimal development of Black children prenatally through childhood across the African diaspora using a cultural wealth framework. The Coalition will focus on developing a science-based action framework to eradicate the impact of racism and poverty, and all its consequences on the lives of Black children, families, and communities, and to ensure optimal health, well-being, school readiness and success, and overall excellence.”

This month, the Coalition leads Black Babies Awareness Month, a campaign to protect, promote and preserve the lives, well-being and cultural identities of Black babies and families. The campaign will feature an open virtual roundtable with key experts to share recent research, a social media toolkit, calls-to-action for public interaction, and the national Black child policy agenda.

The 10 policies of the National Black Child Agenda include:

Maintain child tax credits and income supports
Address racial disparities in wages and career advancement opportunities
Invest in Black-owned and Black-led businesses, organizations and institutions
Expand the Family and Medical Leave Act
Expand health insurance
Expand universal access to early care and education
Address harsh discipline practices
Ensure equity in early intervention and special education
Ensure culturally responsive curriculum and practices through workforce development and training
Pass reparations

With over 60% of Black babies in the U.S. living in low-income households, Black Babies Awareness Month seeks to act as a gateway to improving the livelihood of Black people nationwide.

“Black Babies Awareness Month is a combination of the ongoing work that I’m doing at The Equity Research Action Coalition at UNC Frank Porter Graham,” explained Dr. Iruka. “It’s really to empower Black children and families. We have been fortunate to really leverage the expertise, researchers and lived experiences of Black parents to make up an awareness campaign and national policy platform that really brings attention to the systemic issues that Black families, their babies and children, and the community continue to face.”

Iruka and the campaign encourage everyone to aid in their efforts to bring national attention to Black families and babies. Whether you share information, posts or tweets, Black Babies Awareness Month serves to highlight Black life and the disparities that impact Black livelihood with the help of the people.

“Our job is to protect our babies from harm. Whether it’s phycological, physical, or even having material hardships. We want our babies to have the best of what everyone has. So, step one is to protect them. The second is to promote their health and access to high quality early learning and even educational opportunities that really lends itself to making sure that it meets the needs of our babies,” said Dr. Iruka, a mother of two Black babies.

If you wish to participate in Black Babies Awareness Month, support the campaign and follow the conversation at #BlackBabiesMatter on social media.

The Equity Research Action Coalition held the Twitter chat “Black Babies Awareness Month: Centering a National Black Child Agenda” on Wednesday, Nov. 17.

For more information about the Equity Research Action Coalition, visit https://equity-coalition.fpg.unc.edu and follow them on Twitter at @FPGInstitute. To read the Coalition’s agenda visit, https://unc.live/3E14UUK.

To connect with Dr. Iruka, visit her website, https://www.iheomairuka.com and follow her on Twitter at @iheomairuka.

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