outlaw midwives volume 1

From Mai’a Williams editor and contributor to outlaw midwives vol1:


outlaw midwives zine is here!

it has been an honor to get read so many beautiful stories, poems, essays from mamas, midwives, doulas, students, unattached women. thank you. and i am so excited to share it with all of you…because revolutionaries are born everyday…

soon i will be posting a pdf version so that folks can print it out themselves…

and more options to enjoy the outlaw midwives zine are coming soon…

and the call for submissions for outlaw midwives volume 2 will be posted soon, so if you weren’t able to submit to this zine, don’t worry, you can get another chance

online you can read it here: http://issuu.com/maiamedicine/docs/outlaw_midwives


I’m so happy to have been able to participate in this project. Outlaw midwives has helped me to completely rethink birthing. Here’s a few excerpts to entice and enliven:

From outlaw midwives manifesta by Mai’a Williams-

Our intelligence, agency, and subjectivity are central. The health of the next generation depends on the psychological, physical and spiritual health of the mother today, our levels of stress, support networks, confidence and joy.

From anti-oppression work and midwifery by K. Emvee-

Direct-entry midwifery in the US is the domain overwhelmingly of white, middle class, straight women serving largely white, middle class, straight women. How can we pretend that we serve all women when this is the case?

From Baby clothing tips for poor mamas by Aaminah Al-Naksibendi-

[Buy] shirts big – especially t-shirts. Why not? A baby looks adorable in slouchy, baggy clothes and then they will grown into them. This helps you get the most out of the shirts. For example, a bigger size shirt can make a cute dress on a walking baby, and then still work as a shirt as she grows.

*Oh definitely. My four-year old is wearing a “shirt” right now that was once a dress. And she has a favorite hoodie that says it is sized for an 18 month old!

From The Best Midwife by Me-

So, while I was pregnant and living in this country I couldn’t find a midwife to attend my homebirth. That just isn’t done here anymore. Afterall, that is not what the barbarians do. This country has embraced the barbarians’ brand of civility and medical intervention and sterileness and clinical birth settings. The citizens have bought (literally) the barbarians’ lies which tell them that if the citizens don’t adopt the barbarians’ ways of life then the citizens are in fact the true barbarians. I have even been told that homebirthing is now illegal here.

Other self-published gems (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) can be found at Thura Zine Distro.

Labor Division, Not So Black and White

The people we share our garden with had some sheep manure delivered today. I couldn’t smell it from the balcony, but watching the black man spread it around the garden suddenly reminded me of another time and place when crap was shoveled in my home.


When I was in my early teens we lived in a Victorian rental. The basement was semi-finished with a shower and separate little room with just a toilet both circa 1940s or so. I happily took over the basement with its cement floors, low beam-exposed ceilings and unlimited privacy. One day raw sewage backed up into the shower filling it a few inches deep. Just imagine a teen girl coming upon this early in the morning. I probably nearly killed my mother with my screams of disgust. I refused to go to school without taking a shower or I used it as an excuse to cut, either way I stayed home and waited for the guy to come fix it.

The first guy was the fat white guy who did repairs for the rental agency. He came in the front door, went downstairs and came back up all in one stretch—as if he didn’t pause. As if he looked at the mess, turned on heal and came right back up stairs. “No way I’m doing that shit” he scoffed, kind of surprising me because you know, not that I had virgin ears, but I was a child and most strange adults didn’t swear in front of me.

The next guy was some for-hire plumber. I don’t remember him to well, but a similar scenario. He wasn’t touching it. Actually it didn’t need to be fixed, it was just backed up and it needed to be cleaned. And he didn’t do that, he said. So my mom was back and forth calling me and calling the agency and they were trying to find someone and I was sitting on the couch watching videos from the library or game shows as I couldn’t stand soaps, and finally my mom called me to tell me that the office secretary’s cousin was going to come over and take care of it. I vaguely remember her as I sometimes dropped off the rent: a thick and smiley Latina with a little bit of an accent.

Her cousin came over and I led him downstairs since he didn’t speak any English and I didn’t speak any Spanish. He seemed pretty surprised about the mess and pantomimed to me asking for a plunger. I got it for him and went back to the couch. With the furnace being next to the shower in the basement and the big ducts running all through the house leading to enormous and fanciful wrought iron openings in every room I could hear him pretty well. He went straight away to shoveling—the sound of metal scraping cement—and singing. I swear to you. I am not making this up. He sang some opera-ish tune very loudly and very well in Spanish—I think, as if my teenself could tell the difference between Spanish and just about anything else. And he whistled a little too, but mostly he sang.

After a while he came back upstairs and went cheerfully along his way. Now part of this story is about the immigrants that so many people don’t want around, but sure do work ‘em when they need ‘em, and the other part of the story is about color.


We have had several workers come through the yard while I have lived here in Morocco. There were the guys who put up the iron bars on all the windows. And then a couple different sets of guys doing yardwork. More metal workers who fixed the outside door. The painter for the neighbor’s exterior. And then the guy who shoveled the manure today. And you know what I immediately noticed about this guy today? He was black. The other guys weren’t. And this may seem inconsequential to you, but it’s not. And unlike the iron workers and the bush trimmers, he wasn’t served a meal or a snack or even a glass of water—in this—a land of so much diversity and hospitality.

***Elsewhere a friend of mine commented about gendered divisions of labor, which is commonly what we think of when we say “labor division.” So, if you can imagine labor division along a color line, what do you think that looks like for Black women? When I see women panhandling or selling little things on the street here, I do see black women doing this in larger numbers than related to the demographics.

SPF 101: Niqab 607

I wish I could show you the local broadcast of women in niqab picking fruit. My Orientalist brain inferred that they were “shy” (maybe piously so) to show their faces to the TV world. My colonized Moroccan tour guide’s brain told her that they were protecting themselves from being blackened under the sun.

Many reasons and many ways to wear niqab. Don’t bother to guess. And asking might not get you the truth anyway.

The Ugly Things: Derision of West Not Entirely Misguided

When this made the rounds a couple weeks ago (along with a standing ovation from many Muslims) I wanted to respond to immediately, but my reaction was so visceral that I only would have been able to ramble off an incoherent rant.

In the columns, Al-Qarni compared a Saudi woman’s experience after being beaten by an abusive husband in the United States with what often happens — or doesn’t happen — in her native land. In the second column, Al-Qarni explored the reasons so many Muslims move to the US and find both greater opportunity and more tolerance that they could expect in their homelands. The thought-provoking articles have prompted many discussions at coffee shops and dinner tables.

Last night I found the words, someone else’s words in reaction to another Muslim speaker who was over emphasizing the good in American culture. From American Muslim Women: Negotiating Race, Class, and Gender Within the Ummah by Jamillah Karim-

“Lisa believes that ‘you cannot pick and choose’ what you consider to be the good parts of American culture and overlook the rest, ‘or else you don’t have American culture. American culture is chauvinism. American culture is racism. American culture is the ugly things that we don’t want to adopt, but becoming a part of American culture is adopting all these things.’ A person who can highlight the good but overlook the injustice in American society

obviously has not been to the Robert Taylor Homes or obviously has not hung out on the South Side [of Chicago] after midnight on a Friday in the middle of summer time, because he would see the condition the people are left in, whether it is the black community or the Lithuanian community or over on the other side of Marquette Park. He would see the conditions that these good people have left people in. He will also see the disparity between the snow plows on the streets in Chicago. [So when he overemphasizes the good], he just highlights the ugly part of America to me.

Exactly. So, alhumdiAllah this all worked out well for the sister. Depending on the location, the time of day, the hue of her skin, the hue of the officer’s, the mood, the quotas and so on–the variables were in her favor, this time. But that is not always the case and therefore justice does not live here—either.

My New Mediterranean Diet

It is easier for me to go to bed hungry here. Not that it happens often. Maybe two or three times a week. But I notice this nighttime hunger since it nearly never happened back home. It isn’t for a lack of food. It is for a lack of gluttony. A finding of humility.

Generally, here, our family, all ten of us—kids, parents, grandparents, aunty and whomever else is around—eat from large “family-style” platters. We did this often in the states, too, but not with nearly as much adab as here. With other adults around eating is no longer a race like it often is when eating with just the kids. There is no hurry to get your share before fingers begin to cross over into your area of the platter. It isn’t as tempting to simply submit to the easier option of giving everyone their own plate. Here there are plenty of other adults on hand to help the kids learn how to eat according to the sunnah.

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “When one of you eats let him not partake from the middle of the plate, rather take from around it, for the blessings descend from upon the middle of it.” (Sunnan Abu Daud )

Usually I eat sitting in-between my two youngest kids as they insist. But when I have sat next to my father-in-law I am always amused by the tidy little line—like a sandbar—that slowly comes to form between our places. It is a clear boundary of respect for the other’s share. Frequently adult family members will deftly reposition a choice morsel of meat into my section, “for the baby” as she is still exclusively breastfed. I have seen my older kids start to do this to the adults, offering the favorite of so and so to them when it falls into the child’s zone. “The baby” is also given any odd number of fruit or other items that cannot be portioned up equally. Snacks are also equally shared. Though generally younger children are given preferential treatment—extra cookies and bites—everyone is served, unlike when I would snack back home. Then, I ate whenever I felt like it. And often wouldn’t consider if someone else wanted a cup of tea or whatever else I was having. I lived according to my desires.

Certainly knowing that there are people in extreme poverty close by helps me to ignore the grumbling in my tummy. And as I wait for my stomach to shrink back to its normal size, I acknowledge that what is good enough for most Moroccans—and nearly the rest of the world—is good enough for me.