Black Advocates Address Stigma, Discrimination Around Breastfeeding and Black Motherhood

Auto Straddle, September 1, 2014

This past week marked Black Breastfeeding Week, an initiative that began last year in response to the gaping racial disparity in breastfeeding rates. Recent data from the CDC revealed that 59% of black mothers have breastfed, as opposed to 79% of Latina/Hispanic mothers, 75% of white mothers and 67% of Native American mothers.

Given that breastfeeding helps lower infant mortality rates and that breast milk has been shown to reduce the risks of conditions like Type II diabetes and asthma–phenomena that disproportionately affect Black babies–this is definitely a problem that needs to be addressed.

So, why the disparity? Kimberly Seals Allers, the founder of Black Breastfeeding Week, cited a variety of factors when she spoke to The Huffington Post about the issue, including miseducation, a lack of black mothers in breastfeeding marketing/education materials, formula marketing strategies and social stigma, such as the association of breastfeeding with poverty.

We battle race baiting anti-choice propaganda and ableist lies about “vaccines causing autism in African-American male babies.” Institutional barriers exist as well–the CDC released a study last week that revealed that racial disparities in breastfeeding may be caused by maternity healthcare practices in hospitals, where 62% of African-American babies and 79% of white babies were breastfed at birth. Facilities in areas with higher black populations were less likely than other facilities to support breastfeeding. Furthermore, in a world where paid maternity leave is directly related to whether or not a woman will breastfeed, another CDC report on breastfeeding noted that “low-income women, among whom African-American and Hispanic women are over-represented, are more likely than their higher-income counterparts to return to work earlier.”

Furthermore, Black motherhood and bodily autonomy has been historically undermined and often robbed from Black women in numerous ways. From this country’s first visions of us as wild oversexed Jezebels able to easily produce the next generation of slaves and doting mammies, caretakers and nannies for our slave-master’s children, we haven’t been seen as individual and capable loving nurturers to children. Instead, we’re often perceived plainly as vessels who birth free laborers, social problems, and institutional burdens. Black women are described as “Welfare queens” or “Bad Mothers” rather than “At-Risk” or “Undermined,” despite the blatant evidence that the latter is more accurate, considering institutionalized racism’s impact on poverty, housing and job discrimination, educational access and reproductive and sexual health resources. Black motherhood is often demonized and shamed–just ask Shanesha Taylor and Raquel Nelson. Later on in life, Black mothers must grapple with a racist society that automatically deems their children criminals, a misidentification that can result in murder–just ask the mothers of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell and countless others.

{snip}

Allers also speaks to a lack of role models in breastfeeding advocacy, which she notes is “white female-led.” This means that “many lactation professionals, though well-intentioned, are not culturally competent, sensitive or relevant enough to properly deal with African-American moms.” Controversy erupted when Black mother Karlesha Thurman posted a photograph of herself smiling in her graduation gown and gleefully glowing in her moment of success while breastfeeding her baby. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we’re doing–black motherhood is still policed away from the choice of breastfeeding.

We can’t ignore the real effects societal and institutional racism and race-baiting in health and medicine has on Black families and parenting. These are all systemic attacks against Black motherhood. At all levels, Black motherhood and sexuality are at risk.

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  • Adolf Verloc

    The only thing that can compete with this article is the following biographic info about the author: ” Briana Urena-Ravelo is a lippy 24 year old first gen Afro-Dominicana witchy angsty queer punk based in America’s High-Five state.” Sounds as though she doesn’t exactly have a dog in the breast-feeding fight. It is entertaining to learn that the demonic effects of white racism even manifest themselves in something like breast-feeding.

    • MekongDelta69

      I just had to see what this ‘thing’ looked like. Really ‘charming’ – and super ‘good looking’ too.
      /major sarc

      The entire page was comprised of mentally unstable he-she-whats.

      Btw, here’s her full ‘bio’:
      Briana Urena-Ravelo is a lippy 24 year old first gen Afro-Dominicana witchy angsty queer punk based in America’s High-Five state. She is currently a freelance writer at Feminspire. Her interests are music, shows, Afro-Caribbean spirituality and culture, radical politics, fashion and clothes, cooking, body modifications, her calico Shampoo, eating candy, and making straight white boys cry. She really wants to hold hands with Lana Del Rey.

      Yeah – I’m really ‘crying’ — with laughter.

      • 1stworlder

        She makes them cry by telling people they slept with her.

    • 1stworlder

      Maybe she wants to see more women’s breasts when they feed. The thing about breastfeeding is they teach new moms a class about how to do it at the maternity ward and you know how blacks do in class.

      • How would a gal need a formal course for breast-feeding? Mother mammals have been doing this without special training since the class first appeared in the middle of the Jurassic period.

        • Spikeygrrl

          Some mothers and babies take to breastfeeding right off the bat. Others don’t. The purpose of the classes is to get new mothers past an initial frustrating and PAINFUL period until their milk fully “lets down” and becomes accessible to the infant. Without strong support, many new mothers — already exhausted and sore from childbirth — would give up on breastfeeding far too soon and opt for bottle-feeding instead. (I never had that problem myself but witnessed plenty of other new mothers go through it.)

        • 1stworlder

          So you are saying why would a black woman not be able to do something that a squirrel is smart enough to do. You do know squirrels are smart enough to work at storing up food to last the winter right?

  • Diana Moon Glampers

    I could never have guessed it would be white peoples fault. Whaddaya know.

    • APaige

      At first reading that “breastfeeding helps lower infant mortality rates and that breast milk has been shown to reduce the risks of conditions like Type II diabetes and asthma.” I thought high mortality was caused by a racist health care system and diabetes by racist food advertising , and asthma by environmental racism. Could Black problems be caused by individual choices that play out in a similar fashion over the entire population? No. In the end LaQuifa fails to breastfeed D’LaJ’Quan because of “the real effects societal and institutional racism and race-baiting in health and medicine has on Black families and parenting.”

  • John Smith

    Ahhhh !!!

    Is there even one problem, issue, pathology in the black community that is NOT whitey’s fault?

    • MekongDelta69

      NO

    • 1stworlder

      Well maternity wards give women classes in breastfeeding and you know how well they do in classes.

    • Rhialto

      This is the point that I was about to post.

      Consider the source. I accessed the website that Mstraddle’s article was posted, and it seems to be a queer mixture of Feminism and anarchy.

    • JackKrak

      Right.

      And is there even ONE good thing that blacks do as much or more than whites?

      Is there even ONE bad thing that blacks do as much as or less than whites?

      Christ, we have to tell these people to breastfeed their children!!!

      What’s next “Ok, Jamaaaaaaaaal and D’Sha’Quandravious, you shouldn’t drink so much paint”???

  • MekongDelta69

    “This past week marked Black Breastfeeding Week…”

    This insanity doesn’t even deserve a rational comment.

    • The Worlds Scapegoat

      Next week is Nation Black Sail Foam week”

      .

    • antiquesunlight

      Yeah, what a way to start off with a bang. As soon as I read that, I buckled my seat belt.

  • (Insert a black social pathology or gap here) is the fault of slavery.

    Sure there’s a gap here, but it’s not a severe gap. Blacks are only 16% behind whites who are in turn 4% behind Hispanics, which makes the racism excuse curious. And at that, more than half of blacks do breastfeed.

    So what gives?

    For one, anything that’s a measure of social altruism and selflessness, blacks will be in last place.

    For another, I have heard that breastfeeding makes women’s breasts sag, and the fraction of black women that don’t want to breastfeed might fear a decline in the assets found in their community chest, so to speak, making themselves less attractive to men.

    • Guest

      The degenerate black women I grew up and lived around didn’t breastfeed because it required attention, empathy, and forward time orientation.

      Plus who wants to interrupt a busy afternoon of porch-sitting, elbow-throwing, baby-daddy-entertaining, and TV-watching to go through all that mess and bother?

      Plus as one ghetto brood unit said to me once, “Why bother feeding them, it just means dirty diapers later.” (She was one of the ones who left her children in diapers till Kindergarten age. And changed them once a day if that.)

      The WWII generation women in my family didn’t breastfeed because they were busy working at the shipyard and factories. They were slight but mighty women who didn’t have a lot of breast or milk. Similac was a blessing for them, and their children grew up bigger, stronger, and healthier than these women did on their mothers’ scant milk.

  • Luca

    Once again, a liberal journalist going through linguistic contortions trying to explain how it’s not the fault of Blacks for anything they do or don’t do.

  • The Worlds Scapegoat

    As far as I know, breasts don’t produce “grape drank.”

    .

    • 1stworlder

      Maybe if they tasted like fired chicken.

  • IstvanIN

    Black women are described as “Welfare queens” or “Bad Mothers”
    But they are.

    Black mothers must grapple with a racist society that automatically
    deems their children criminals, a misidentification that can result in
    murder–just ask the mothers of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell

    But they were!

    • “Black mothers must grapple with a racist society…”

      How could that possibly in any way affect their decision as to whether to breast-feed their babies? It seems that “racism” has become the Energizer Bunny of excuses: it keeps going and going.

      As an aside, the Sean Bell shooting incident occurred in NYC after Bell ran down a black police officer with his car, after that plainclothes cop had clearly shown his badge.

  • Dave West

    So apparently when you can’t blame “white privilege” for a shortcoming by blacks, the new excuse is that “blacks suffer from psychological stigma caused by 10,000 years of horrible, systematic racism at the hands of white, christian, heterosexual males.”

  • MBlanc46

    I don’t care what black mothers do, or don’t do. Just have them do it or not do it somewhere else.

    • M.

      Neither do I. But apparently what black mothers do or don’t do is somehow due to white racism. Just like the cholera, ISIS, Justin Bieber, and other such calamities.

    • A Freespeechzone

      I agree, but wish they would use birth control.

      • rebecca

        I wish uneducated, racist white people would use birth control, too.

  • none of your business

    I sent this in but I am at a loss to comment. The piece speaks for itself.

    • tancred guiscard

      You’re fighting the good fight!

  • M.

    “Black mothers must grapple with a racist society that automatically deems their children criminals, a misidentification that can result in murder.”

    Young black males being more likely to become thugs and lowlives is not a misidentification. It’s a fact.

    I don’t usually like to judge based on looks, and prefer to stick to ideas. But here’s the author of that article. I’m sure if she ever had a hard time finding a decent job, she would blame it on race discrimination, and not because she looks like a drug addict.

    • It’s probably the fault of whites that this loser looks like a junkie.

    • Dave West

      Maybe she hates white people so much that she is trying to make sure no white man will ever find her attractive; if so, she’s doing a great job!

    • The Worlds Scapegoat

      It is interesting that white woman are more criminal prone than black woman. Maybe that is because the white woman were with black men when they got busted.

      • Actually, black women are still overrepresented in crime. Only 13% of the female population is black, but those numbers show them to be 32.2% of women prison inmates.

      • M.

        Black women are still more prone to crime than white women, but the white:black ratio is sure closer in females yes. Same for old white men, compared to young white men.

        You mean the piercings in it or the actual nose?

      • antiquesunlight

        She looks like she’s wearing Groucho glasses in that picture.

  • How is my white maleness stopping some Negro woman from whipping out a boob and offering it up to a little sprog? If I could stop Negresses from doing anything, it would be shut up their foul mouths and stop them from their disgusting twerking. The writer of this piece is illogical and mentally disturbed.

    • willbest

      You white maleness provides her with free formula.

    • Sharps Rifle

      If I could stop negresses from doing anything, I would stop them from breeding. Let the whole Homo africanus species just go extinct.

    • Based on the picture M. thoughtfully provided, I’d say that “mentally disturbed” is an understatement.

    • Luca

      “The writer of this piece is illogical and mentally disturbed.” –

      Just say “Liberal”, it saves time and space.

  • willbest

    What is shocking to me is that black breastfeeding is even that high. Medicaid covers formula for the infants. Everybody else has to pay 50 cents to a dollar an ounce for it.

  • Alexandra1973

    In two words: Blame Whitey.

  • sbuffalonative

    Do black women not know what breasts are for?

    This defies common sense.

    Oh, I forgot, we’re talking about black women so White folk are responsible for not explaining natural human/animal instincts to black women.

  • Ella

    If I had 3 young children within 5 years, you would not have much time to breast feed the baby or might be still breast feeding one in the current! And feminists once pushed formulas to free the white woman from breast slavery and oppressions since the 60’s! Maybe, their campaigns were too successful.

    • Guest

      You overlook the obvious, Ella:

      For this kind of black female, babies are just the nasty side effect of gettin they groove on wi De’Shan’ti’Viouz, with a little on the side from Don’twae’on and Shay’von’tone.

      You never known which Aspiring Rapper is going to rise the fastest and farthest, so best to cover one’s bets by shagging them all. The “ex girlfriend scenes” can come later.

      By the way, my entire life, feminists were AGAINST formula feeding because it was a crime against the goddess or something. Don’t you recall that entire mass hysteria blaming Nestle for the fact that African women were either too stupid to use clean/potable water in mixing up the formula, or were (more likely I think) hoping to use sewage water as a Home Infanticide Aid?

      • Ella

        It is true for some hippie types. I worked around many ardent career feminists who were more than happy to send their children off to daycare after 4-5 weeks of family leave. They rarely lasted 3 wks. of breastfeeding because of these common complaints: too painful, baby on breast too often, going back to work, more convenient, messy and so on. It depends on the feminist but many hailed formula to escape the gruelling motherly roles. Feminists advocated breast feeding but always have excuses for not doing it long-term. My point is that many are hypocrites.

  • Paleoconn

    If White racists didn’t exist, the black man would invent them.

    • Dave West

      Black man invent something? The invention of the “racists” would be left to the white libtards!

  • antiquesunlight

    “From this country’s first visions of [black women] as wild oversexed Jezebels…”

    First impressions are often correct, as they say.

  • A Freespeechzone

    Fact: Travon Martin, Michael Brown & Sean Bell ARE CRIMINALS.

  • Spikeygrrl

    One of the saddest sights I have ever seen: A very young (teenage?) kneegress feeding her appr. 6-month-old infant from a 20 oz. bottle of Pepsi with a nipple screwed onto the top. I know, I know, I wouldn’t have believed it either if I hadn’t seen it with my own two eyes.

    • Prenatal nutrition among teenage black expectant mothers is also pretty bad: lots of junk food and malt liquor for baby.

  • none of your business

    Briana was one of those rich White liberal girls names a decade ago. Guess it is trickling down.

  • none of your business

    M, that picture, at first I was totally grossed out. But then I looked again and almost fell off the couch laughing.

  • Moe

    Great…now breast feeding is raciss….damn!

  • Alucard_the_last

    It just doesn’t end with these people. Everyone is sick and tired of the eternal whine. It is time for blacks to grow up. They are failure, not because of racism but their own actions.

    • rebecca

      Interesting since that’s what you are doing right now, WHINING about issues that have nothing to do with you, except being a white, racist asshole.

      • Alucard_the_last

        Racist. Just how did you assume that I am white.

        • rebecca

          Cause no other race whines about blacks as much as white people do, that’s why. Not to mention the site itself whines about non whites but never white people.

      • M.

        What do you mean they have nothing to do with him? This woman is basically blaming the lower frequency of breastfeeding among black women on white people.

        We might complain about having to live with them, but we don’t blame all of our woes on them, like they do to explain their shortcomings.

  • Dale McNamee

    Breast feeding doesn’t bother me unless I’m forcibly exposed to it when it’s totally unecessary to do so… Just like gay & lesbian PDA’s… Keep your “activities” to yourselves and in private !

  • mike smith

    You know, the other day I watched from my balcony two different Negros panhandling at an intersection kitty-corner to each other. The one Negro whose sign I could see (“Please help, I have a wife and five kids to support”) barely had a few bucks in his ball cap. The other panhandling Negro’s hat was stuffed full of $20 bills! WTF I thought to myself, so I went down to street level to see what HIS sign said: (“Please help, I have a wife and six kids to support, we want to move back to Africa but we is $20 short”)

    😉