After she lost her son, Tonda Thompson dreamed of a baby in a washing machine. She’d stuffed in dirty clothes and closed the door. The lock clicked shut. Water rushed in. Then she saw him, floating behind the glass. Frantic, she jabbed at a keypad on the machine, searching for a code to unlock the door.

When Thompson became pregnant she was 25, living in Los Angeles and working as a model. She and her boyfriend got engaged and moved back to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She’d grown up on the city’s north side, a predominantly African-American neighborhood with pockets of deep poverty, in a zip code known for having the highest incarceration rate in the United States. Thompson went to all of her medical appointments, took prenatal vitamins, and stayed in shape. On her birthday, she wrote on Facebook that the only gift she wanted was “a healthy mom and baby.” But she also wrote about how hard it was to be pregnant in a city where there was “nothing to do that’s fun and safe.”

Thompson got married in April 2013, and a month later went into labor. Forty hours later, Terrell was born. He lived less than half that time, due to “complications” with the delivery. By the time Thompson got home, all of the baby’s things had been moved to the basement. She’d gotten to hold him for five minutes.

African American Motherhood, African American Child Mortality, African American Health, African American Child Health, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN



The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) is a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System which provides statistical information to guide actions and policies to improve the health of the American people.

NCHS is housed within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It is headquartered at University Town Center in Hyattsville, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.

In 1960, the National Office of Vital Statistics and the National Health Survey merged to form the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). NCHS is one of 13 principal statistical agencies in the federal government. The Center has been located in a number of organizations within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and since 1987 has been part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Collaborating with other public and private health partners, NCHS employs a variety of data collection mechanisms to obtain accurate information from multiple sources. This process provides a broad perspective to help us understand the population’s health, influences on its health, and health outcomes. We[who?] collect data from birth and death records, medical records, interview surveys, and through direct physical examinations and laboratory testing. (Wikipedia).


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KOLUMN Magazine celebrates the lives of People of Color by giving our world texture.