We had the good fortune of connecting with Patricia Liggins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Patricia, what principle do you value most?
The last three years I have become exposed to the real and true existence of systematic racism, biases (both implicit and explicit), and prejudices that have placed a great number of people in my community in challenging, unjust, and unfair positions. This exposure has put me through numerous physical, mental, and emotional ups and downs. Some nights I go to bed angry or on the verge of tears because someone else has been harmed in a space where they should have been protected. Some days I have to just lie down and exhale to my husband all of the good fight I needed to expend on behalf of others who don’t even know I exist.
When I think about values and principles that matter to me, there is one that stands out. All people should be able to live, love, laugh, and birth in safety and in happiness. There is no person or people who deserve less opportunity at life. There is no person or people who deserve less opportunity at laughter. There is no person or people who deserve less opportunity to build family. And in all these things….. knowing that someone like me is out there, fighting to protect that because there ARE people who get less opportunity at having these things…. that is valuable. That person is someone I can call my comrade.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
At the base of my work, I teach birthing people about babies! I own my own doula support agency where people hire me to coach them through things related to their pregnancy and when they give birth I am there to coach them through the entire process. Over the last year, though, my work has shown me that my work is something that only just begins to scratch the ice on an issue that goes far deeper than pregnancy and birth coaching.
Since starting my journey into the abyss that is public health advocacy I have joined many coalitions in working on drafting legislation or organizing expansion on health care on multiple levels of care. I work as a member of, and even co-chair, some stakeholder groups that are working with state hospitals and state health departments workers on reducing maternal health disparities and preventable birth outcomes. I also operate as the current co-chair of Dr. Shalon’s Maternal Action Project, a non-profit working towards uplifting the voices of families of folks who are not heard during their birthing experiences, much like Dr. Shalon Irving who lost her life after multiple visits to the ER saying she didn’t feel right only be discharged being told “you just had a baby, that’s normal”.
My work, at its core at at its height, is never easy. There are long nights at the hospital for births that can go on for days. There are days where people in the right positions to make great change just refuse to hear you or judge you based on who you are or what you do. You face a lot of adversity because people don’t like to “reinvent the wheel”. You see systematic racism in places you would think should have no space for it. I face these things daily by having a safe space in my home and in having strong comrades who believe in being the change they wish to see.
I think that when the world knows me, I want them to also know that I never stopped pushing for better even if better was something that would not become available until after I was long gone.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Most who come to the DC area are interested in visiting spots like The MGM Casino, The National Harbor, and Top Golf. In a week of time, these spaces are most sought after. But for me, the places that better align with my personality would also invite friends to places like All Fired Up – a paint and sip place where you purchase a ceramic item and paint it however you like. When you’re done, you bake it in the oven, and when it’s done it’s shiny! My fiancé and I would take the girls there often. One of the most popular places DC residents like to go to eat is called Busboys and Poets. They have a variety of foods that are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free. All of their foods are also sourced humanely. They also have poetry slams at night on the weekends, which is always fun.
One of my more recent favorite eateries, though, is a place in Rockville called Fish Taco! I would love to take friends and family there to visit.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There is no way that I might be able to give justice to every single individual involved in who I have become today. But there are some I feel I would be remiss to not prioritize:
To my Lord and Savior, who blessed me with the life I lived; every joy and pain, win and loss resulted in this black woman with a hunger for serving those around me and the irresistible urge to make others smile.
To my mother, who was the first and strongest advocate in my life from the very beginning. You are the reason I am strong. You are the reason I have never given up. Thank you for being a woman I could model myself after.
To my father, who has taught me how to stand firm in what I believe is true, never backing down in the things that matter most to me, and challenging me nearly every day of my life (and for the best laughs I have ever had). Thank you for being the strength I needed to make a difference in the world.
To my sisters, Aniyah and Angel, and my brother, Alphonso who taught me loyalty regardless of differences, loving and supporting through everything that life throws at you. Thank you for growing beside me and being the best siblings I could have asked for.
To my daughters, Kaiyra and Amina, who fuel my motivation in building a better tomorrow and for pushing me to realize the potential I still am unsure exists within me. You two will always and forever be what got me as far as I have.
Finally, to my soon to be husband, Anthony who waited for me to get my entire life together as my best friend longer than anyone else who has called me a friend. You push me to be flexible, and to push all the buttons (even though I don’t know what they’ll do). Thank you for trusting me with having your back for the rest of our days and for making my lemons into lemonade.