2014-08-29

Black Breastfeeding Week Offends People


This week is Black Breastfeeding Week! The purpose is to spread the awareness of breastfeeding to black women, who typically are the least likely to breastfeed.  Reasons for this is usually due to socio economics, but there is also a cultural aspect. From my own personal experience, the concept of breastfeeding past six months is considered absurd to many in the black community.  
With my first child, I breastfed for 26 months. Yes, I breastfed her for over two years.   The comments I received from well meaning friends and family for doing this were at times, downright offensive, other times just out of plain ignorance.

I have received comments about me breastfeeding because it was a sexual thrill; trust me, it’s not.   I have been told that only poor people breastfeed when they can’t afford formula.  I’ve heard that formula was superior to breastfeeding.  For the record, there is no proof formula is better than breastfeeding.  I’ve been told my breasts would be ruined, and my husband wouldn’t want them anymore, as if my boobs belonged to my husband, and breastfeeding would give him an excuse to cheat on me.

We also need to discuss the fact that many black women do not have jobs with maternity leave.  That ability to pump at work, might not be as readily available.  These are more of issues of class, but still issues that would encompass many black women.

I recently went to one of my favorite pages on Facebook, Best for Babes Foundation.   They are happily posting some great information about Black Breastfeeding Week.  It is being met with the usual backlash of any type of celebration or acknowledgement of blackness in America.

“Why isn’t their White Breastfeeding Week?”

“This is why we are a nation divided. How about just breastfeeding week?”

Then we have these gems:





I’m going to deviate from the issue of Black Breastfeeding Week and ask some questions:

How do white people equate into Black Breastfeeding Week, and how are they being blamed for “Blacks Problems”?

Why do we mention slavery, but never the subsequent century of segregation that happened afterwards?  

What exactly are the special entitlements and benefits received by blacks?

Why is it always assumed blacks need to “pick themselves up”?

No matter what the conversation about black people or black americans in particular, why do these “concerns” always come up?  This is about breastfeeding.  Not about slavery, not about entitlements and benefits, just about encouraging a group of women with low breastfeeding rates to actually breastfeed.   Why is it that black people are no longer allowed to have spaces that feel safe for them? Why is it we must be relegated to the backseat of all conversations to address the concerns of the majority?  The focus can never be on the minority, we must first address the needs of white people, and then any concerns or questions specific to a minority group can be discussed as an afterthought.   The fact that anytime a minority issue does come to the forefront, the discussion from white people is to discuss and critique it’s very existence is the definition of white privilege, but it won’t be acknowledged or questioned, because some in white America will gladly pat each other on the backs and convince each other in an echo chamber that they aren’t racist.