Property and the Gullah

The Gullah are US descendants of African slaves; they live principally in South Carolina and Georgie, particularly on the coastal plains and the sea islands.    They are known for preserving their culture and language.

The  NY Times has a story today, “Black Landowners Fight to Reclaim Georgia Home,” illustrating the precariousness of Gullah ownership of their land.  It is a story of many losses, including a loss of a connection with nature for the Gullah described.

Reading abut Gullah reminded me of the very beautiful “Daughters of the Dust” by Julie Dash.  The first clip below is a trailer for that movie, which you can buy on, of course.  The second is a scene from the film.  The last one takes up another aspect of Gullah land ownership.  The  woman at the beginning of the last one is said in other clips to be a Gullah queen.   She has degrees in mathematics and computer science, but left New York to return to her home.



Apples and Oranges are, On Average, Orangey

…if your study follows five hundred oranges and ten apples.

There’s yet another bang-up job of scientific/medical reporting in the Guardian today, entitled ‘Home Births are Good for Mother, Riskier for Babies, Study Says’. The article reports that a US study of home birth mortality/morbidity statistics shows that home births lessen the likelihood of interventions that are detrimental to the health of the mother, but triple the risk of death for the baby.

The researchers pulled together data from studies in the US and in Europe, including two from the UK. They considered a total of 342,056 planned home births and 207,551 planned hospital births.

So, what’s my problem with this? Well it’s simple: UK midwives are university trained and nationally certified. They are hospital affiliated and most NHS trusts have thorough, detailed home birth plans in place that, among other things, bring women/babies rapidly into specialist care in case of complication.

In the US, certification differs state-by-state, with some states allowing anyone at all, regardless of training (or lack of) to call themselves ‘midwives’; and midwives, as a general rule, have no affiliation with any hospital or obstetric team, which means that, if an emergency arises, american home birth women dial 911 and wait for an all-purpose ambulance to take them to a medical team with no prior knowledge of their circumstances, prenatal history, etc.

In short, the lot of home birth women in these two countries are practically as different as they could possibly be. Safety and efficacy conclusions based on averages across the two systems are *totally meaningless*–especially when we don’t even know how many studies came from each.  (thank you, Guardian! Bang-up reporting!)