AfterShock is a new documentary on Black Maternal Health as it investigates the maternal health crisis facing women of color in the United States. When it comes to Black Maternal Health, Black women had a threefold increased risk of maternal mortality compared to White women, per data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Variation in healthcare quality, pre-existing conditions, institutional racism, and implicit bias are all contributing factors.
Black American director- producer and women’s advocate Tonya Lewis Lee, wife of filmmaker Spike Lee, along with director- producer Paula Eslit spearheaded the making of this film.
Black Maternal Health is Not a Popular Documentary Topic
Aftershock shines a light on Omari Maynard and Bruce McIntyre, who both lost their black partners in childbirth and went on to turn their grief into advocacy and activism. Through interviews with bereaved fathers and mothers, birth-workers and physicians, Eiselt and Lewis Lee examine the maternal health crisis happening throughout the country.
For working for almost two years in their documentary, Tonya Lewis Lee never denied that it is really a challenge to make a film on how to touch people in this huge issue, “How do you come into a huge issue like that and try to tell a story that really touches people? So that was a challenge and I think that’s been the challenge. ” Lewis Lee says. Since Black Maternal Health is not a popular documentary topic, Lewis Lee said that she was able to reach out with her audiences through telling the people’s lived experiences,
“I certainly didn’t want to make a film that was a survey kind of film. So the key with this film was to tell the story of people’s lived experience and then get into the systemic issues, because that’s how you get people to really want to pay attention. “Tonya Lewis Lee
Inspired by Tragedy
The lives of two mothers who passed away within a year of each other after giving birth: Shamony Gibson and Amber Rose Isaac revealed more than just a picture of loss, as difficult the mourning process may be, despite the tragic nature of the story’s subject matter.
Co director and producer Paula Eiselt is also very thankful that despite the ongoing pandemic when they were doing the series they were able to push through. “Two years and it was a quick two years with a pandemic in the middle. We pushed through because of the swell of attention that this crisis is thankfully getting on Capitol Hill.”
Inspired by tragedy, “Aftershock” works at ending the tragic prevalence of maternal mortality in the United States. It aims to move us toward a world where all women, but especially Black women, are respected and given the kind of birthing care they deserve.
Furthermore, Eiselt thinks that many individuals would want to make the systems behind this catastrophe accountable after learning about how their birthing experience may be in America from this documentary video.
Currently, Aftershock is currently streaming on Hulu.