By KIMBERLY ALLERS
I spend a lot of my time writing (loudly) about the problems I see in the world. Particularly, those affecting black mothers and babies. Nothing was more true than when I wrote last week about Beyonce breastfeeding her daughter in public and the paltry job mainstream breastfeeding advocates and media outlets did to show the import of Beyonce’s actions to African American mothers. Agitate—for a great cause—is what I do.
But I also like to be about innovative ideas, workable solutions and filling in the gaps.
Over the past six years as I’ve been working as an author and commentator on the African American motherhood experience, I have become deeply frustrated by the lack of credible information or in-depth analysis on black women and their breastfeeding experiences. Nor was there one place for us to tell our story. For our voices to be heard on the matter. For every story about the low breastfeeding rates among black women, there is rarely anything on the complexities and nuances of the problem—such as exploring the impact of media stereotypes, the residual effects of our nursing experiences during slavery, the role of infant formula marketing in black communities or the lack of multi-generational support, for example.
This was the point of my Beyonce breastfeeding story. I took no pleasure in pointing it out, but something needed to be said: the media hype over Beyonce’s breastfeeding moment blatantly ignored connecting the dots to black women, and missed the opportunity to point out the particular significance of having a black woman of Beyonce’s star power breastfeeding in public. And given that Beyonce was actually feeding an African American child, who is disproportionately less likely to be breastfed, I thought it was a huge failure on the media and the movement’s part not to mention the seemingly obvious connection.
I took a virtual beating.
But the fact is, the media has a history of failing to accurately include black women in the collective breastfeeding “story.” And we haven’t had a place to tell our story.
This week, I launched a new online resource called Black Breastfeeding 360°, to offer a never-seen-before comprehensive view into the black breastfeeding experience, to shed light on the shadings and gradations that frame this critical issue, to offer a forum for developing workable strategies, add the human element to the statistics and to amplify the authentic voices of black mothers and fathers.
I’ve spent months interviewing experts, advocates, mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers on their thoughts and experiences with and about breastfeeding in our community. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, and even my “wasband” have called in to share their thoughts and challenges. The result is an international collection of articles, interviews and research along with audio and video “diaries” of black mothers and fathers in the U.S. and abroad sharing their breastfeeding perspectives.
BB360° will serve as a global resource to the media to help them better understand the black breastfeeding experience as they research and report on this matter. The articles, interviews and commentaries can be downloaded for FREE by any online or offline publication. But most importantly, it is a place for black men and women to get helpful resources and hear the voices and see the faces of other breastfeeding women all over the world. It is a place to show the world who black mothers are, and for the media to take notice.
This is our breastfeeding experience. And it is our story to tell.
Please join me in welcoming Black Breastfeeding 360°!
To celebrate the launch of Black Breastfeeding 360°, a new multi-media resource on the black breastfeeding experience, Bravado Designs is giving away one of it’s super stylish nursing bras or Essential Nursing Tanks to one of our readers. Enter for your chance to win below!