AMCHP invites you to a panel discussion about Birth Justice during Black Maternal Health Week, on April 14, at 2:00 p.m. ET, featuring Aftershock filmmakers Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis and maternal health advocate Shawnee Benton-Gibson.
The United States has one of the highest levels of maternal mortality among developed nations. Black birthing people and families are disproportionately impacted, with Black women being 3 to 5 times more likely to experience a maternal death than white women. As we deepen the national conversation about Black maternal health in our country, we encourage you to join this discussion on Birth Justice to learn from the lived experiences of Black communities in memory of those who have passed from maternal mortality.
Aftershock is a documentary film produced by Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis, which premiered as part of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. Documentary Competition (details here), and was awarded the Special Jury Award for Impact for Change.
The film follows two bereaved Black fathers after the preventable death of their partners due to childbirth complications. Throughout the film, we witness these families’ journey in becoming ardent activists in the maternal health space and seeking justice through legislation, medical accountability, community, and the power of art. Their work introduces us to a myriad of people, including a growing brotherhood of surviving Black fathers, midwives, and physicians on the ground fighting for institutional reform.
Through their collective journey, we find ourselves on the front lines of a growing birth justice movement that demands systemic change within our medical system and government.
For more information about Aftershock, please visit the website using this link.
Paula directs and produces feature films about unforgettable characters thriving in unbelievable circumstances. Her most recent feature, Aftershock, premiered at 2022 Sundance in the U.S. Doc Competition and was awarded the Special Jury Award: Impact for Change. Aftershock will be released by Disney’s Onyx Collective and ABC News to stream on HULU and Disney+ in 2022. Her previous feature, 93QUEEN, now streaming on HBOMax, was released theatrically across the U.S. and broadcast worldwide, starting with PBS’s POV. IndieWire named Paula one of 22 Rising Filmmakers to Watch in 2022. In 2019, Paula was named one of Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36.”
Tonya Lewis Lee
Tonya is a director, producer, writer whose work often explores the personal impact of social justice issues. As a television producer, Tonya served as Executive Producer on the episodic series She’s Gotta Have It, which is currently streaming on Netflix. As a film producer, Lee produced Monster, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and is now available on Netflix. Most recently, Lee co-directed and co-produced Aftershock, which premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, which examines the U.S. maternal mortality crisis winning the Special Jury Award for Impact for Change and was acquired by Onyx and ABC News to stream on Hulu. IndieWire named Tonya as one of 22 rising female filmmakers to watch in 2022.
Shawnee Benton Gibson
Shawnee is the CEO of Spirit of A Woman (S.O.W.) Leadership Development Institute; an organization established in 2002 and designed to educate, elevate and effect positive and sustainable transformation in the lives of individuals, groups, families, and communities. Under Shawnee’s leadership and vision, S.O.W. offers innovative coaching, counseling, workshop, and training experiences to individuals, groups, and organizations seeking to expand their power, purpose, and impact in the world. Ms. Benton Gibson is a graduate of New York University’s Silver School of Social Work and is a licensed practitioner with over 28 years of professional experience in the areas of substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery, adolescent development, individual, family, and group counseling, women’s health, birth equity, social justice, grief, loss, bereavement, and trauma. Shawnee is a master teacher, trainer, healer, vision coach, performance artist, inspirational speaker, officiant, mother, and friend. Her principal teaching and healing tools consist of spiritual counseling, coaching, writing, sacred rituals, psychodrama, sociometry, energy work, the performing arts, and storytelling as mediums to ignite transformation and initiate catharsis.
Kristina is the Senior Program Manager for Reproductive and Maternal Health and Wellness at AMCHP. She obtained her master’s degree in public health in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. While matriculating her graduate degree, Kristina focused her studies on maternal and child health, her culminating project focusing on the experiences of community doulas working with low-income African American women. At AMCHP, Kristina manages the women’s health portfolio working at local, state, and national levels to transform maternity care with and for people who birth and their families, and communities.