August is filled with breastfeeding awareness events around the world; starting with World Breastfeeding Week, and ending with National Black Breastfeeding Week (part of the US National Breastfeeding Month).
Black Breastfeeding Week?
Yeah … I tell you …. there are many important reasons to celebrate Black Breastfeeding Week.
I came across it last year during World Breastfeeding Week. My immediate unspoken reaction was, ‘Noooooo’, followed by ‘why’. I didn’t need anyone to tell me how some folks will react to it … do we really need another separate thing for black people?
Even then, I maintained an open mind and I decided to find out more.
‘The Top Five Reasons We Need a Black Breastfeeding Week‘ helped me to understand the rationale behind it. It wasn’t about having another black this or that; far from it.
National Black Breastfeeding Week in the US, is about empowering an undermined group of mothers, and saving more innocent and vulnerable lives.
It’s not about making people uncomfortable, but about highlighting real issues, affecting real people.
It is about justice, equality, and equity for all mothers and their babes regardless of their skin colour, ethnic group, or cultural history.
It is about addressing the breastfeeding gaps that African-American mothers face compared to other mums, in the nurturing of their children from birth, and the long-term outcomes of these.
It is about highlighting the poor social, medical, and cultural breastfeeding support that black mothers face in modern America, and has faced for decades.
It is about reducing black infant mortality rate and countering the negative history of breastfeeding in some of America’s black communities.
It is about addressing the inadequate positive representation of black people in modern breastfeeding images.
It is about reshaping the generational impact of a traumatic breastfeeding history, and helping a battered community to more effectively engage with the art and science of mothering through breastfeeding.
It is about women standing up for each other, and communities moving themselves forward.
It is about informing and supporting African-American mums to make informed choices about giving their children the best start in life.
It is about all these and more.
Phew … relief … I can breathe easy, and not worry about comments about why Black Breastfeeding Week is unnecessary. There are valid reasons for it, and whilst it would be great to live in a world where such a Week wasn’t needed, unfortunately, we don’t.
You see, as someone who is labelled black in a predominantly non-black space, you feel this intangible pressure to justify why black this or that is needed; because guaranteed you’ll be questioned directly or indirectly. It’s like … you need to justify why you’re helping yourself to access a future that is readily available to others; and assisting yourself to attain the positive outcomes that are meant for everyone.
Sorry, I digress a bit; back to the point of this post.
Breastfeeding is one biological norm that really does help to give the vast majority of children an equitable start in life. This is one of the things I really appreciate about breastfeeding. In itself, it’s accessibility is not dependent on skin colour, ethnicity, social status, financial means, education level, or any of the key things that have divided humanity over the millennia.
So, I definitely support the effort to make breastfeeding work for more mothers.
The US National Black Breastfeeding Week is in its 4th year, and this year’s theme is “Lift Every Baby… Oh, What a Joy”. What an upbeat theme. According to The Black Breastfeeding Week’s website, the theme is about”spotlighting the sweet joy of family bonds and perseverance”.
I’m sure that many mums, breastfeeding or not, will identify with this theme. It’s definitely one that very much applies of my breastfeeding journey of over 2.5 years.
I’m not African-American, but I’m human … and a woman. The aims of Black Breastfeeding Week resonate with me, and I’m especially thinking and talking about it this week.
In my next Black Breastfeeding Week post; I’ll be discussing a very important remote cause of some of the reasons for this Week.
What came to your mind when you first heard about this Week, and what do you think about it now?
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