25 | The Melanated Birth - Chinelle Rojas


Chinelle Rojas, a birth photographer/videographer, explained that her job is not about the crotch shot. Instead, the focus is on documenting the little moments that her clients may not remember after the birth of their child.

She knew from the birth of her three children that she wanted something to look back at. To be able to reflect on her birth experiences and also be able to share with her children. Chinelle loved photography and birth. Taking that into consideration, she wanted to be able to offer other families the opportunity to commemorate their birth experiences. She shot her first birth in 2011, and from there the rest is history.

Chinelle soon realized that there was a lack of diversity of both photographers of color and those represented within the imagery. She created Melanated Birth to bring awareness to women of color of the options available to them through the imagery of birth. Using it not only as a medium for families to document their birth stories but also as a way for future birth photographers of color and allies to learn about the importance of documenting birth in this way.

For Chinelle, it is essential that photographers who are capturing these moments for families of color have an understanding of the history of our community. In her efforts of research, she discovered that there were not visual accounts that she could find of birth during slavery. In her photography series "Unto Us, a Slave is Born," she took what she could find on the subject and created her own interpretation to honor that experience of our ancestors.

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"This imagery is important to ME because it sheds light to what has been left in the dark. Not only were we fierce birthers, we were fierce mothers. Not only did we mother our own, but we mothered "massa's" children, too. We passed on, from generation to generation, the art of midwifery before midwives even had a name."

If you are a birth worker of color or a birth worker ally and want to become a member of The Melanated Birth directory head to the website.

To view Chinelle's "Unto Us a Slave is Born" photo series, a perspective on birth during slavery, click the link here.