“Aftershock” is now streaming on Hulu (Photo Credit: Hulu).

(“Aftershock” trailer courtesy of Hulu)

Black Lives Matter has never been just about police brutality.

The hash tag that became a movement is a cry of protest for a system that does not value Black lives as much as White lives in all shapes, forms or fashion.

Although sometimes infuriating and painful, “Aftershock” educates the American masses on how discrimination in the healthcare industry has cost many Black mothers their lives when death could have easily been avoided.

The Hulu documentary “Aftershock” focuses mainly on three Black mothers.

Two New York mothers die during, or shortly after, childbirth because of neglect from hospitals.

A third, after learning about the neglect shown to many Black mothers, chooses to give birth at a birthing center in Tulsa, Okla.

In “Aftershock,” Shamony Gibson and her partner Omari are excited about welcoming their second child to their growing family.

The Brooklyn, N.Y. couple must have a C-section for the birth of their son.

But soon after the birth, Shamony begins complaining about pain and shortness of breath.

Whenever Shamony goes to downstairs, she has trouble making it back up the stairs.

Shamony and Omari tell the hospital about the side effects of her C-section.

However, hospital staff dismiss her concerns as normal and send her back home to suffer throughout the post-partum days.

When the pain becomes too much for Shamony to bear, the paramedics are called to rush her to the hospital.

Unfortunately, even the paramedics seem to make light of her predicament.

As several paramedics come into the house to tend to Shamony, all of them ask Omari and Shamony’s mother if she is on drugs.

The neglect from hospital staff members and paramedics does little to help Shamony in her time of need as she passes away, leaving Omari to raise two young children as a single father.

Although the pain that Omari feels from losing his long-term girlfriend is palpable, he does not wallow in anguish long.

In “Aftershock,” Omari uses his anger and turns it into advocacy and activism, shining a bright light on racism in the medical field, especially anti-Black racism towards Black women.

Omari links up with Bruce in “Aftershock,” a young father going through the same plight that Omari is going through.

Bruce’s partner Amber Rose Isaac is pregnant with the couple’s first child.

The young father-to-be has plans of spending his life with Amber and is obviously elated to see what fatherhood has in store for him.

However, when Amber’s platelet count begins to steadily decline, their future is placed in dire straits.

In “Aftershock,” Amber eventually succumbs, even though the couple had desperately tried to get help when they saw her platelet count dwindling.

Unfortunately, like so many Black mothers, hospital staff did not take their pleas seriously enough, and a preventable death became the result.

In “Aftershock,” Bruce mentions the condescension that he received from hospital staff who referred to him as just the “baby daddy.”

He, like Omari, is forced to navigate parenthood alone, while pondering a life without the woman he planned to spend eternity with.

“Aftershock” should be an eye-opening experience for anyone who doubts the Black community when it says that the world does not view their lives as important as that of their White counterparts.

When Black Americans speak of systemic racism, some doubters might believe that if they do not outwardly hate Black people or participate in overt White supremacist activity, then they are blameless in this ordeal known as oppression.

“Aftershock” should let any doubters know that that assumption is far from the truth when it comes to systemic racism.

Everyone walking the planet has prejudices, bias and stereotypes about other people, and that does not always mean it is about race or ethnicity.

However, when those prejudices and stereotypes center on race and ethnicity, it could easily result in death because of negligence.

Since slavery, a stereotype has existed that Black women do not feel pain like their White counterparts.

Therefore, when a Black woman like Shamony feels nonstop pain after giving birth, are her cries ignored because of that stereotype?

Furthermore, since slavery Black bodies have been used for medical experiments.

If a medical practitioner is using said body to advance the medical profession, are they truly looking out for the best interest of that patient?

Additionally, “Aftershock” deals with the reality that some poor people of color do not have the best of healthcare.

Therefore, do the nurses or doctors truly care for them like they would if they were their general physician who has built up a rapport with them over the years?

“Aftershock” will educate Black and White audiences alike.

But “Aftershock” might become too unbearable for many Black Americans because many have friends and family members that lost their lives during or after childbirth.

Unfortunately, the new Hulu documentary will make it clear that many of those deaths could have been easily prevented if not for neglect, greed and implicit bias.

While “Aftershock” will not entertain like many of the current documentary on the market, it is most crucial, vital and important.

Hopefully, social media can bring a light to the brilliant documentary “Aftershock,” co-directed by Tonya Lewis Lee (Spike Lee’s wife), because it could save lives and change minds and practices.

The aftershock that the documentary highlights is the ripple effect that happens after a Black mother loses her life.

Hopefully, that ripple effect keeps rippling until it rips birthing racism into pieces for good.







Todd A. Smith
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