In The Studio with Calamity Jane is a show highlighting the incredible people of Las Vegas!
This episode features Jollina Simpson, founder of the non-profit organization, The Kijiji Sisterhood.
The Kijiji Sisterhood is a collective of birth professionals of color, who have come together to improve infant and maternal mortality here in Las Vegas. You can help with their mission by donating to their fundraiser.
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Hello, welcome to another episode of In The Studio With Calamity Jane. My name is Jodi, also known as Calamity Jane.
Our purpose with this series is to take an amazing woman from Las Vegas and give them the spotlight for a moment.
Joining me today, is Jollina Simpson - International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and the founder of the Kijiji Sisterhood. Welcome to the show, Jollina.
[Jollina]: Thank you Jodi, it's nice to be here.
Tell us a little bit about about the Kijiji Sisterhood.
The Kijiji Sisterhood is a collective of birth professionals of color, who have come together to improve infant and maternal mortality here in Las Vegas. We want to build the community that exists, bring everybody together so we can help women of color improve their outcomes here in Las Vegas.
How did you come to start this organization?
The Kijiji Sisterhood was formed after I went on a road trip with the founder of Uzazi Village. And during that road trip I was amazed and educated that there are so many other women of color out there working in their own communities and who are doing great things. And for such a long time I felt I was all alone out here in Las Vegas, Then after going on this road trip and seeing all these amazing women doing amazing work, I realized that I just had to come back and make it myself.
Like I cannot expect the hospitals to help with this work, I cannot expect any other organization to do this. I just need to get it done. And so I looked to my community and there are a lot of amazing women of color doing work here in Las Vegas and I reached out to them and I said, "Let's get together, let's do this!"
And our first meeting, it was exciting, it was invigorating, they already had all been thinking about this in their own space in the their own time, and I think coming together as a group was validating and it was encouraging and exciting. So that we could say okay, we can do this work together. We've all been working in this valley for, some of us, a decade or longer. So, let's pull together, pool our resources and make it happen.
What do you feel makes you successful?
I think what makes me successful is that I am just the average Jollina, right? I say that all the time.
The average Jollina is a mom who has had struggles with breastfeeding. I've had my struggles with my prenatal care. I have come in contact with doctors who have treated me with so much disrespect that it makes me doubt my innate ability to do the job that my body can do.
And what I bring to this village, my village, the Kijiji Sisterhood, is that idea that if we can just support mothers, the average mother needs support and we don't need a whole bunch of tools, we don't need a whole bunch of stuff for them to go buy, they just need to be surrounded by their sisterhood, by their community. Because community is where everything works.
And so when you surround a mom with that kind of support, and she is having those everyday, average, mental breakdowns that happen when parenting and breastfeeding, they you can say, "Yeah girl, I've been there too. "I know what you're going through." And all these other women, all these women who look like you, who have been through this, can relate to that as well. And that's success for me.
What one piece of advice would you give to a woman who is expecting a baby, is trying to find that sense of community?
I would tell moms that we're here, we're out here. And a lot of times, it seems like the picture of the natural momma, the breastfeeding momma, it doesn't look like us. So we kinda go, "Oh, well I guess there's nobody else out there doing what I'm doing."
But the truth is that we're here, we're doing it, and we're in this valley and have been here for a long time. We're in this country and have been here for a long time. We're in this world and have been here for a long time.
Sometimes, you just gotta open your eyes and look around and say, "I need some help. Can somebody help me?" And that's what I did. That's what I did when I went out on the road trip and I didn't even realize I was doing it. I was like, "Ah man, I need rejuvenation." And I found it out there on the road amongst other women of color who are building it. And then I came back here and I said, "Alright, this is what we need to do."
And so that mom is looking for somebody, she might be the one who says, "Hey, we need to do this." And the women who have been thinking about it will surround her and support her and they they can take that message out as well.
And now, the famous questionnaire that was asked for 26 years by the great Bernard Pivot and made famous on In The Actors Studio:
What is your favorite word?
Cunt. It is specific and when it's used you know exactly what the person means.
What is your least favorite word?
Ally. Ally. Because it is passive and it is being used, I think, as a badge, as performative, as opposed to being an actionable person.
What turns you on creatively, emotionally, or spiritually?
Travel. I love to travel. I usually feel the most grounded, the most centered, and the most focused when I come home from travel. Because I think it expends my horizon enough that I can take in more things in order to focus my creative energy into the things I want to focus it into.
What turns you off?
That's a hard one. Small talk, I think, turns me off. Mostly because I feel like I'm not getting anywhere with small talk and I got so many other things to do that if we're not getting into things, then I don't have time for it.
What is your favorite curse word?
All of them? My favorite curse word? Yeah, no, I don't know. I don't have one. Unless all of them is a good answer. Okay, I don't like this answer at all. I don't have one. I swear a lot and I like to mix things up and use them indiscriminately.
What sound or noise do you love?
Water. I love the sound of water. Doing water births for so long and water birth education, being near the ocean, the sound of running water, is extremely soothing for me and I love it. Yeah, love it.
What sound or noise do you hate?
Okay, well this feeds directly into the what sound do I love. Because the sound that I love is water, but the sound that I hate is water hitting tile. 'Cause that usually means that something's overflowing and there's something going terribly wrong. So, it actually, it's two sides of the same coin. It's two sides.
What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt?
I would like to be a professional billionaire. And go around the world and learn things and build things and supply wealth where there is no current wealth. So to use money to employ people to do the things that they want to do. I think that's a professional billionaire.
What profession would you not like to do, like ever?
Nurse. That's pretty fast, right? Nurses have a hard job and they're getting it from all sides. They're getting it from patients, they're getting it from doctors, they're getting it from doulas, you know, they're getting it from cleaning staff, they're getting it from all sides.
And I think it's a noble profession that has taken some pretty decent blows in the last two decades and I don't think I could do it. I think I'm too mouthy for it. Referring back to my favorite curse words answer, that would happen a lot, and I don't think I could keep my license.
If Heaven exists what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
I think, if God doesn't have anything better to do than greet me, then what the hell am I doing there? Right? I mean, I don't if that's exactly what you mean by that. Like, I feel like some people would say oh, like you did a good job, like all those things, but no. You got more important things to do, go do it, God. Yeah, I'm good, I'm here. Is there something else you need me to do? I mean, if you're busy, get back to it.
[Jodi]: Thank you for being on the show today, Jollina.
[Jollina]: Thank you Jodi, it's a pleasure to be here.
Thank you for watching! Join us for the next edition of In the Studio with Calamity Jane, where we put another amazing person from Las Vegas in the spotlight.
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