Breastfeeding Graduate

I mean, I’m still not clear why everyone’s panties are all in a bunch over this mom’s proud moment, but Negroes can be… special. Apparently, the earth is going to stop spinning on its rotational axis, the sun is going to stop shining and dolphins will take to the sky while parrots swim the sea because Karlesha Thurman, a 25-year-old California State University Long Beach graduate, posted a picture of herself on Facebook showing herself breasfeeding her child while waiting to receive her degree.

Mind you, the same freaks who look at this picture and think, “sex!” instead of “Mother feeding her child during a super proud moment!” were, no doubt, littering the internet with “YAAAAAASSSS!” when they got a glimpse last week of Rihanna walking the red carpet in a completely see-through, skin-colored-save-for-the-crystals gown and itsy-bitsy thong—both her areola and whole ass photographed and passed around family-style for the entire planet to see. But Sweet Mother of God, the flesh of this woman’s breast with her daughter suckling is a P.R.O.B.L.E.M. for them.

Here’s what I see: I see some kind of wonderful. I see an incredible moment, not just for Karlesha, but for Black women who consistently fight against the foolish notion in our community that public breastfeeding is something disgusting that should be hidden from view—in a restroom or under a hot ass blanket or out of sight of randoms who might be offended by the sight. I see a young mother showing off a proud accomplishment—overcoming stereotypes that dismiss her and her baby as statistics who’ll be a drain on the system, will never ever have nice things like degrees and good jobs and a loving family. With one picture, Karlesha shattered all that foolishness and put on front street, for the entire world to see, that she is winning. WINNING, understand?

Karlesha wasn’t trying to set the internet ablaze when she posted her pick; she simply put it in a comment, and the awesome Facebook support group Black Women Do Breastfeed reposted the image. Said Karlesha on her personal FB page: “I found out I was pregnant my last year of college, had my daughter one week into my last semester, she was my motivation to keep going. So me receiving my BA was OUR moment, so glad I captured the moment and so glad you shared it with the world.”

No, Karlesha—THANK YOU for helping to normalize what is natural: the feeding and care of our children, on demand, no matter who’s watching and getting all up in their feelings about it. It is exactly these kinds of PDBs—public displays of breastfeeding—that our community in particular needs if we’re ever going to normalize breastfeeding and change the narrative that Black women don’t do it. We do. And the more we show it, the better. Congrats, Karlesha!

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Denene Millner

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.


  1. Yay, Karlesha!

  2. It is truly pathetic that all people see in this photo is a an exposed boob and nothing else. This picture says so much more about this young woman and her resilience. Can we applaud the fact that she managed pregnancy, labor and delivery, and even chose to breastfeed and somehow managed to graduate! Many people are unable to juggle the demands of school and a new baby but this woman did. Let us celebrate her and her accomplishment.

  3. Maybe it’s only ok when America sees us suckling other folks babies…SMH!
    I think her photo is wonderful. And natural. And normal

  4. It’s great that she is that comfortable with it. I know i’m not. I did everything in my power to make sure I didn’t have to whip mine out in public. But that’s me. I feel you on the Ri-Ri thing.

  5. What I didn’t understand in the beginning was, why did she have her baby in the ceremony with her, but now that I read her response, that this was their moment….I now understand why her daughter was apart of the ceremony.

  6. Thank you, Karlesha, for reminding the world why women have breasts. A beautiful pic. And amen, Denene, about the blanket thing.

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