And the crusade against breastfeeding mothers continues with this deliciously disgusting ditty out of Hawaii: an airport security officer forced a mother of four to pump breast milk in a crowded airport bathroom, saying it was the only way she would be allowed to bring her $200 breast pump onto the plane.
Amy Strand, an elementary school vice principal, thought she was doing something when she emptied out her liquid gold before boarding a plane home to Maui, Hawaii—her attempt to follow the no-liquids policy in American airports. But a Transportation Security Administration worker at Lihue Airport in Kauai told her she couldn’t board the plane with the empty bottles or the breast pump unless she proved to him that the empties were, indeed, for breast milk.
Strand told the Today show that she wasn’t about to leave the pricey machine behind, so she agreed to pump in a private room. But yeah—dude directed her to a crowded bathroom instead and told her to get busy. Mortified, Strand pumped right there at the bathroom sink, while a bunch of strangers peed, pooped, farted and did whatever else it is humans do in public bathrooms. “I had to stand at the sink in my heels and dress, pumping as travelers came and went,” she said. “I was humiliated and fighting back tears.”
The TSA let her board the plane once the bottles were filled, leaving Strand and a whole bunch of folks scratching their heads. “It really confuses me as to how an empty breast pump and cooler pack are a threat to national security and 20 minutes later, with milk, they no longer pose a threat to national security,” Strand told ABCNews.com.
The TSA came correct with a written apology that said, “We accept responsibility for the apparent misunderstanding and any inconvenience or embarrassment this incident may have caused her.” TSA officials also said they’re sending the offending officer for remediation training and sending a memo to agents at the Lihue airport so that they can get up on the rules for moms with babies and bottles.
Of course, pumping in bathrooms and other unusual and public places is nothing new for breastfeeding mothers; American happens to be ass backwards when it comes to supporting mothers who choose breast milk over formula. Indeed, when I breastfed my daughters, I had to pump in my car—on the corner of 33rd and 10th in New York City. That’s because my then-employer, the New York Daily News, had a massive and gross smoking room for all the editors who needed to suck on their cancer sticks, but no dedicated room for nursing moms. Outside of the nasty ass bathroom stall, that is. But that was 12 years ago. I thought for sure that by now, anybody with as much as a pea-sized brain and the sense of a billy goat would know what a breast pump is and would accommodate moms who want nothing more than to do one simple, human act: feed their babies. I mean, didn’t Michelle Obama help pass some new government measures just last year designed to get everybody on board with breastfeeding in public and pumping on the job?
Why, then, are we still talking about this? Why are judges telling mothers they can’t breastfeed their babies in the courthouse hallways? Why are Target employees threatening breastfeeding mothers with indecency for feeding their kids in its store? Why are pastors humiliating breastfeeding mothers by telling them that feeding their hungry babies is the same as stripping in church? Why aren’t we amped that Beyonce, an African American woman married to a black man with a beautiful brown baby girl, is breastfeeding in public, setting a huge example for the myriad of young black women who have aren’t lucky enough to have a breastfeeding mom to lead them by example?
And why on Earth are there still TSA agents who think a breast pump and a couple bottles of breast milk are going to make airplanes rain from the sky?
Bottom line: Breastfeeding moms have to be up on the law and the rules so that when we get stopped at the store/church/courthouse/airport, we can get everyone else up to speed. Because good grief, they seem to change with every person, from store to store, space to space, depending on the shape of the moon and the exact time of the rising and setting of the sun. Ever. Changing. So how about we shut all this down by starting with TSA rules, shall we? To read Transportation Security Administration rules and information on traveling with breast milk, formula, juice and other baby food and liquids, click here. And maybe the next time you find yourself headed for the airport, you can print out a copy so that you can hand it to the TSA agent—maybe spare yourself the humiliation of having to pump your breast milk in a busy, nasty airport bathroom or, Heaven forbid, toss out your liquid gold so some bonehead who doesn’t know the rules can let you go on your way.
1. Dear Michele Bachmann: Shut Up About Black Moms and Breastfeeding
2. Nipples and Ninny: An African-American Mom’s Breastfeeding Journey
3. Beyonce Breastfeeds Blue Ivy: Can White Advocates Give Black Moms Our Breastfeeding Victory?
4. Birthing While Black: This African American Mom’s Experience Was Anything But VIP
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.