Black Maternal Health Week is recognized this year, from April 11-17. The week serves as a reminder of the harsh—and often dark—realities that Black women face as birthing people. On April 14, 2023, Netflix will release a powerful 20-minute short film, Weathering, that follows a grieving Black journalist—played by actress Alexis Louder—who finds herself alone at home and under attack by a terrifying presence and is gaslit and ignored during a traumatic childbirth.
The maternal mortality crisis in the United States emphasizes the truth behind this declaration: It is racism, not race, that is killing America’s Black mothers and babies. Data from the CDC also shows that Black women are 3 times more likely to die during childbirth than white women.
EBONY spoke with Louder to learn more about the film (with also features Alfre Woodward and Jermaine Fowler), as well as the emotions that she experienced in bringing such a necessary topic to the spotlight.
EBONY: Let's talk about Netflix's new short film, Weathering, about Black maternal health.
Alexis Louder: Time and time again, we're realizing there's been years of disparity between Black women and other ethnic groups, when it comes to maternal health. What we say about our bodies is often not trusted. Then we internalize how society says we should handle certain situations, and we start to blame ourselves. It bruises and batters us, and this is what Weathering speaks to.
What did you learn as a Black woman as far as how to deal with birthing issues?
No one knows your body better than you do. At the end of the day, if something isn't feeling right, if something is off, communicate that and stick to your guns. Make sure that you are heard. Also, figure out what works best for you, whether that's a home birth or going to a hospital. Text books and medical teachings have created so much rhetoric about the Black female body that is not correct, and it needs to be rectified so that we can be treated properly by the people we're trusting with our bodies.
Also, we should listen to ourselves as much as we want others to listen to us. Be patient and give yourself grace.
What were the emotions that you felt while playing this role?
I really thought back to conversations I had with my mother. Before me, she had a miscarriage and before that she had my sister by C-section. Doctors told her she would only be able to give birth by C-section, but my mother told them that if they helped her properly, she could deliver me naturally. And I am proof of that. I am proof of what happens when we advocate for ourselves in these situations.
Other things I felt were the feeling of being violated, like something you've wanted so badly being taken from you. Then taking that on yourself and feeling like a failure. But as Black women, we no longer have to take on these emotions.