In August of 2021, Denise Williams was rushed to Queens Hospital Center in New York City. Williams, a 29-year-old Black woman, had recently given birth and needed treatment for acute postpartum depression. Her family had hoped her stay would be brief, so she could return to be with her newborn, Adalee, and her 3-year-old daughter Avyanna. But two days later, Williams’ mother received a devastating and shocking phone call: Her daughter had died.
Williams’ family was left wondering what exactly had happened. Tragically, this story is just one glimpse into a much broader crisis facing Black mothers and birthing people in the U.S. Black Americans are three times more likely to die giving birth than their white peers. In this episode of “Color Code,” we take a look at America’s Black maternal mortality crisis.