This summer’s blockbuster movie, The LION KING, told the story of Simba who finally took his place as a leader in the jungle, a position he ran from because he lacked an understanding of his power and influence as well as support.
Similarly to Simba, not all mothers have the support they need to lead their babies to the best possible outcome. This is why the month of August is such a pivotal month for women who seek to enable others and offer support for breastfeeding. While every mom or expectant mother wants the best for their baby, empowerment and support are the key ingredients to achieving that goal.
From the 25th to the 31st Black Breastfeeding Week (BBW) is at the forefront to help create an environment of breastfeeding awareness with usable tools for Black moms. Born in 2013 by three phenomenal women; Kimberly Seals Allers, Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka and Kiddada Green of Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association; the focus is to increase infant health and wellness by providing education, innovation tools and support to mothers needing to champion the cause and increase breastfeeding as the primary food source for black infants. The reality is, breast milk provides a level of nutrients unparalleled by the alternative processed food options. These women seek to eliminate existent health disparities.
BBW has become a national observance with many state and local health departments celebrating the week and promoting breastfeeding among black mothers and the nutritional effects it has on babies. Decreased risk of childhood obesity, a stronger immune system, lower infant mortality rate and the ability to nurture and bond with your baby are just some of the many benefits of breastfeeding.
Our babies remain the best potential for future growth and development of our communities. The greatest threats toward them include potential health risks that are more likely to exist when a child does not receive adequate nutrients through breast milk.
Throughout August and Black Breastfeeding Week, Filmmaker Elizabeth Gray Bayne has offered 200 community screenings of “Chocolate Milk,” a documentary about the black breastfeeding experience. The BBW leadership team has also made publically available, “How to Run Your Own Hackathon or Innovation Event Toolkit” a step-by-step toolkit, adapted from the 2019 Detroit Birth & Breastfeeding Hackathon. You can also access more events in your community by visiting the Black Breastfeeding Week website.
Like Simba, it is time for black mothers and community leaders to realize The World Is Yours, and take your rightful position as community leaders who bolster the health of black babies.
Kiddada Green, Founding Executive Director, BMBFA
Gatina Tinsley (Freelance)