In the aftermath of the tragic 2014 death of her father at the hands of the New York City police, Erica Garner took on the job given to her by the system. Overnight, she became a respected public figure in our continued, 400 year battle for equity and civil rights.

At the tender age of 27, Garner passed from a heart attack, leaving behind two precious babies and shedding light on the elephant in the room — maternal mortality in Black women.

Despite the rapid advancement of modern medicine, America has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country. More specifically, black women in America are three to four times more likely to die from complications during or within one year of pregnancy than white women. A New York City study conducted by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that 63 percent of white women gave birth in hospitals with low mortality rates versus 23 percent of Black women, partially due to the lack of resources and poor conditions of hospitals in predominantly Black communities.

Numbers don't lie, people. This is the morbid reality of being forgotten.

Through extensive research studies, University of Michigan professor Dr. Arline Geronimus  and her team discovered that black women experience “accelerated biological aging of approximately 7.5 years compared with white women of the same chronological age” as a result of a lifetime of stress, poor health care, poor living conditions, and the everyday battles that coincide with these factors.

“It’s chronic stress that just happens all the time. There is never a period where there’s rest from it, it’s everywhere, it’s in the air, it’s just affecting everything,” says Dr. Fleda Mask Jackson told ProPublica.

“It’s the experience of having to work harder than anybody else just to get equal pay and equal respect. It’s being followed around when you’re shopping at a nice store, or being stopped by the police when you’re driving in a nice neighborhood,” said seasoned disparities researcher, Michael Lu when discussing the individual components that contribute to the everyday struggle of being Black in America, and the system that keeps us in this cycle.

Black mama grows up in poverty. Black mama can’t afford healthcare. Black mama contracts health issues that get ignored. Black mama succumbs to maternal mortality. Black mamas are dying and leaving behind black babies who will spend a lifetime trying to heal. In America. The land of the free and the home of the brave. Where social class is a literal life or death matter.

Together we can change the Black mama’s story. Together we can utilize our resources and educate our communities on this growing issue, self-preservation, and the importance of our health.

For Erica, we can save our mamas.