Co-Authored By: Kiddada Green and Gatini Tinsley
Saturday, August 25th marks the beginning of the 8th Annual Black Breastfeeding Week and celebrations will take place throughout the United States. Created by Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka, Kimberley Seals Allers and Kiddada Green, this year’s theme is Revive, Restore, Reclaim! Black women have the lowest rate of successful breastfeeding in the United States. Black women also tend to breastfeed for the shortest amount of time, when compared to other racial groups. The barriers that persist continue to undermine the breastfeeding success that BBW seeks to correct. Decreased access to healthcare combined with workspaces that aren’t breastfeeding friendly are just two of the systematic barriers leading to racial disparities in breastfeeding success that Black moms face. Yet Black moms persevere with breastfeeding rates that grow annually!
BBW celebrations throughout the nation aim to normalize breastfeeding amongst Black women and get the word out that breastfeeding is the healthiest decision you can make for your baby. Black women are in full swing, making choices that reduce the disparity Black babies face within the United States. The mission is a stark change in direction that will shift toward normalizing breastfeeding in the United States and guarantee Black babies have the healthy start they need for now and the future.
Infant formula has been pushed on Black families for decades. In the 1950s and ‘60s, formula was placed on the market, persistent media campaigns targeted Black communities, and breastfeeding rates within Black communities began to decline through the 1970s and beyond, leading to fewer breastfed babies – which ultimately spiraled into decreasing the health of Black babies while increasing their mortality rate. In an effort to correct this, Black women have built community support systems to continue to expose breastfeeding as a healthy food option that is normal, optimal and accessible. Groups that support breastfeeding like Detroit’s Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association, (BMBFA) are able to reach multitudes of women by building communities where shared experiences about breastfeeding revive and restore a traditional act that has suffered due to systemic barriers.
BMBFA founder Kiddada Green had this to say: “It is imperative that we continue to build communities that support, uplift and dismantle the centuries of systematic oppression Black women have faced surrounding pre- and post-term birth. From forcibly caring for babies that weren’t ours that resulted in neglecting our own, we now harness the power to rectify the harm that has been done to us throughout America’s tragically tyrannous history. We hold the key, by building communities that educate and empower, we will rectify our history and move forward in a way that exercises our ability to secure our children’s health and wellbeing.”
Black women are reclaiming their power by saying, “NO MORE!” and restoring it with the decision to breastfeed anytime, anywhere, as they see fit for their child. Breastfeeding allows Black moms to be leaders in the nutrition, health and wellbeing of their children, without seeking permission from outside forces that have a long-established history of divesting Black families of adequate healthcare.
Cross-post on Medela, see link here: https://www.medela.us/breastfeeding/articles/celebrating-black-breastfeeding-week-revive-restore-reclaim