It all started with 22 year old Alecia Dillard when she took her two month old son Dame to Children’s Hospital Detroit. He experienced repeated occurrences of diarrhea and fussy eating habits. The young mom, worried that her son could be severely ill was eager to find out what was wrong at Detroit’s premiere hospital for children. She pulled into emergency, parked her car and went through the doors. After patiently going through security, Dillard sat in the corner of the emergency room and waited to be called back to the doctor.
What happened next was as shocking as it was embarrassing. While waiting, her son began to nurse for the first time since being sick. Dillard was relieved, she thought her two month old might finally be feeling better. Amidst feeding her son in the corner of the lobby, Dillard was met with a security woman who threw a white sheet over her and her son without asking, who brazenly roared “you can’t do that here,” whilst turning her back before a stunned Dillard could respond; and walking back to the security station.
What had been an unabashedly feeding session for her child, quickly became a shameful move met with onlookers eager to find out why the sheet had been thrown over Dillard; and curious to know what was happening. “It went from no-one paying attention to me to everyone staring and pointing trying to figure things out.”
Dillard remained calm eventually getting up to ask another Children’s Hospital employee the name of the security guard she was met with. The woman was identified as Officer Wells. She then went to see the doctor who diagnosed Dame with a gastro intestinal virus.
After she reported the occurrence to the doctor, she was given a hotline number to call and make a complaint in regard to her vile treatment of public shame for breastfeeding. Dillard, didn’t stop at filing a complaint, she contacted Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association in Detroit who swiftly jumped into action and garnered the attention of Local 4 News for a six o’clock story.
Although Children’s Hospital Detroit was in direct violation of Michigans Breastfeeding Anti-Discrimination Act passed in 2014, it seems hospital employees have not been updated on the current laws. Children’s Hospital Detroit has a disturbing habit of disregarding the discrimination act all together.
When Dillards news story aired, three more woman came forward via social media to share their stories of similar occurrences at the same hospital. One of those woman was Mariah Taylor, “This literally happened to me about three weeks ago, same hospital, also in the emergency room. Very sad, dealing with a sick baby who won’t eat, you’re very happy when they want to nurse.”
While many may think a Children’s Hospital would be accustomed to seeing a nursing mom, it bears the question, why are people outraged by moms who choose to publicly nurse without covering up? We went to the advocacy organization Dillard reached out to in hopes of getting an answer.
Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association’s Founder, Kiddada Green, said “It definitely has to do with our cultures hyper-sexualization of breasts, that stigma is attached to breastfeeding. Black women have exponentially been postered as hyper sexual beings, and so it triggers something when people see breasts in public. When they see breast are being used for breastfeeding, for nutrition and health, and not in a sexual way, which is how we’ve been stereotyped in this country. Breastfeeding in general has not been normalized in the US.”
Dillard and Green want answers. They’d like to know if Children’s Hospital Detroit plans on complying with Michigans Breastfeeding Anti-Discrimination Act and how this situation will be prevented in the future.
Unfortunately, these are answers Children’s Hospital Detroit are not willing to give. We reached out repeatedly to Children’s Manager of Communication, Jason Barczy, who refused to return our call.