Happy Black Breastfeeding Week!
Say, look here: I wish to good Gawd up above that there was a gang of Black mom warriors in my corner when I was breastfeeding my babies more than seventeen years ago. Here’s what I faced off against: judgmental aunties who just couldn’t get over the fact that I had “them babies sucking on your ninny” for a year; judgmental strangers giving me the side-eye for refusing to breastfeed in public bathrooms; judgmental coworkers who were perfectly fine with me pumping in my hot ass car on a New York City street rather than creating a dedicated space so that I could pump without an audience; and barely any sustained support from fellow moms who chose to formula feed their children, as if my decision to breastfeed was some kind of indictment on their decision not to.
Still, when I think back on the times when I breastfed my babies—Mari for a year, plus pumping for an additional three months; Lila for 10 months with pumping for an additional three months—I don’t really ever focus on the systemic, personal and cultural barriers I had to climb to feed my kids the most natural way ever. What I remember is the nuzzling and the cooing and the warmth of skin against skin, heartbeat to heartbeat, my babies looking into my eyes and holding my fingers and suckling while I rocked and felt them pull life from my body. Truly, it was the most amazing feeling EVER.
Like love personified.
Every mother should have the pleasure to feel such joy.
This is why I’m so absolutely giddy to uplift and amplify the voices of Kimberly Seals Allers, Kiddada Green and Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka, three incredible, fierce breastfeeding advocates who are passionate about increasing the numbers of Black moms who breastfeed. As the founders of Black Breastfeeding Week, they are focusing this year’s annual Black Breastfeeding Week celebration (August 25 to August 31) on the joys and triumphs of breastfeeding and the blissful feelings that occur when mothers, fathers and communities come together to support the optimal first food, regardless of the many barriers that exist.
For the next seven days, we are celebrating #BlackBFJoy!
“There is immense joy from the feeling of empowerment and accomplishment you get from knowing that you overcame cultural barriers, unsupportive work environments, the insidious marketing of infant formula and perhaps little or no family support along the way,” says Anayah, CNM, co-editor of “Free to Breastfeed: Voices from Black Mothers” (Praeclarus Press).
“Happiness is a form of resistance. It is a joy for black families to know that by breastfeeding they are helping to rewrite our cultural narrative and defying the stereotypes that say we don’t breastfeed and that we give our babies artificial, inferior food,” adds Kimberly,director of the First Food Friendly Community Initiative (3FCI). “Changing black history is a true joy.”
Won’t you join in as we celebrate the fourth annual Black Breastfeeding Week?
- Start, first, by checking out The Top Five Reasons Why We Need Black Breastfeeding Week.
- Check out the Black Breastfeeding Week Calendar of Events to see how you can support the celebration both online and in your community.
- Consider joining in on a local “National Baby Lift Up.” On August 27th at 3pm EST/Noon PST, families across the country will gather again in predetermined locations to lift up their babies (of all ages!) in unison in a show of solidarity and support for black children living healthy and thriving lives. Last year, over a dozen cities participated in the National Baby Lift Up. This year, Medela, the U.S. breastpump leader, has signed on as a National Lift Up sponsor, donating one Pump In Style® Advanced Backpack (MSRP: $299.99) to each Lift Up location, up to 20 sites.
- Follow and join in on all the fun on Instagram by checking out the Black Breastfeeding Week page (@BlkBfingWeek), which, each day over the next seven days, will be taken over by outspoken breastfeeding advocates in our community.
- Consider organizing events that will help make breastfeeding more visible and rooted in your area. Check out Seven Ways to Celebrate Black Breastfeeding Week, today and beyond.
Share the joy. Be encouraged. Support Black moms. Know that Black breastfeeding is pure… joy.
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.