Archives for category: RBGs

RBG in Cyberspace!

nina-nursing

This is what I found when I googled: “African woman breastfeeding baby”

It’s hard to believe we’re 27 months strong with breastfeeding.

Feed them babies, ya’ll! RBG for life!

Advertisements

Happy National Breastfeeding Month

Okay, now when you saw these photos did you think I’ve lost what little bit of sanity I have left? Were you shocked? Did you even notice? Even care?

Well this is what I saw after I opened an e-blast from a local women’s health organization that I support. What the f*&k?! I instantly thought. Are they crazy? What’s up with this photo?

I then scrolled down and looking at their “5 Breastfeeding Tips”. Very generic tips and not one speaking to the need for increased promotion and support for women of color. So I thought again, why the need for this invidious photo.

Being the RBG I am, I thought I’d let them know how I, someone that has supported their work feel about this. Needless to say, the responses were interesting. There’s nothing like calling someone out on their racism and they give you a reason as to why they did it. Brilliant.

Here is our correspondence. Let a sister know your thoughts.

Hi Beth,

Happy National Breastfeeding Month!

I am writing because I am super excited about the recognition for NBM in your newest e-blast. Although, this is a beautiful and important message, I have to admit I was taken aback by the images chosen to promote this awareness. I do believe intentions were well meant but I want to bring something really important to your attention.

The first image, the one of a Black woman nursing a white presenting baby was an interesting use of imagery. As a strong breastfeeding supporter I understand how daunting it may seem to look for specific images of African-American women breastfeeding. There are photos available and most recently with the hard work of some committed women, there has been numerous online spaces created providing more visibility for Black breastfeeding women breastfeeding Black babies. The photo you all chose is an advertisement that many mainstream news outlets and resources use when discussing the disparities (really inequities) related to breastfeeding within the Black community. There are national campaigns being created as we speak to promote the health benefits that breastfeeding plays, particularly in regards to Black women. With African-American women experiencing more and more aggressive forms of breast cancer (which I know your organization knows much more about than me) it has been shown that breastfeeding greatly reduces the risk of getting not only these forms of cancer but also reduces other health issues like obesity and diabetes.

So what does this have to do with the photo(s)? It’s really important to understand how images or even feeling like something is relevant culturally plays a part in the behavior change and/or promotion of consumers. I think about how I would feel as a woman of color preparing myself and my family to access services through your organization in regards to starting a family opening this email and seeing these photos. The beauty and perfection in the breastfeeding dyad witnessed in those last two photos are breathtaking. The first, not so much (the woman in the first picture doesn’t even have a head/face). Racial inclusivity in so important in health promotion and is something I think your organization wants to display to their clients. Long story short, in promoting NBM it would behoove you all to include women of color breastfeeding–or not. Having that photo there just causes too much questioning.

I won’t keep you but thought that you would be receptive to this oversight. I have included some links below that may help in the future in case you all need some imagery (just please credit as most of these folks are real people and not stock photos).

Thanks!
Jeanine

Hey Jeanine,

Thank you so much for your incredibly thoughtful email. I really appreciate you taking the time to explain your concerns, and your willingness to be open with me. I agree completely that imagery choices when promoting healthy behaviors and educating about health disparities is paramount. I think that Shannon and I always do our very best to be cognizant about the ways that certain photos or word choices can impact the way that someone perceives our newsletters, as well as their willingness to come into our organization for care.

That said, I really believe that Shannon and I made a poor choice with the first photo, when I put some more thought into it. When I was reviewing the e-blast originally, I hesitated when looking at the first image, thinking that it might be read poorly by women of color (or people in general) and/or raise eyebrows. On the other hand, I thought that it could be perceived as beautiful, that there is a mother and child of different ethnicities that are experiencing breastfeeding together. But, I do know that there are different connotations to a white woman nursing a black baby, than a black woman nursing a white baby, for example. So, I certainly want to be mindful and sensitive to that. Additionally, I know that there were two pictures of white women with white babies, and then a black woman with a white baby. I understand why that looks culturally insensitive. I think the connotations would have been different if there were multi-ethnic women nursing different ethnicties of babies, or women nursing babies of matching ethnicities to theirs, etc. In any case, I know that this issue is complex, and I want us at our organization to be regularly vigilant and sensitive about that.

Again, I really appreciate your input, and I hope that you can continue to provide feedback as you see fit. Shannon and I will certainly be more careful next time about our photo choices.

I’ve CC’d Shannon here, in case she wants to chime in at all.

Thanks again,
Beth

Hi Jeanine,

First, let me thank you for speaking up and sharing your thoughts about the photos with me. I appreciate you taking the time to do so:)

Second, let me offer an explanation for choosing this specific photo. This photo was chosen not to offend, but to offer the first part of a continuous story that we plan on sharing from the inclusive perspective of diversified families and women who breast-feed.

I made a very conscious decision to use the photo of the African American woman breastfeeding a White baby. As someone who recognizes the numerous disparities that women of color experience, I know it’s incredibly important for us to use imagery that connects these women to our organization and the services that we offer from a perspective they can connect with. My hope with this photo was one; to present a current marginalized population of women who breast feed, and two; to reflect on an image of a non-biological parent breastfeeding.

Because we plan to use many photo opportunities of women breastfeeding, including posting on facebook and an article devoted to NBM on the an online news source I knew an image of a woman of color breastfeeding a child of color would be used in a future posting, as well as a woman breastfeeding a toddler. I think this image that I chose reflects that our organization is open to all kinds of different families, a message that I believe in strongly and try to regularly convey through our marketing and eblasts . I believe this photo represents the beauty that exists in all families and parent/child breastfeeding relationships, which is, again, why I chose the image.

Please look for additional imagery that represents a wider variety than the three women represented here in future articles and facebook postings during NBM. Thank you for the photos and for being a rock star advocate for women! Please let me know if you have any additional questions or comments and I would be happy to chat with you.

Shannon

Of course, I had to respond. There are so many things wrong with this response but choosing not to go ham I offered a few kind words (thank you transcendental meditation).


Hi Shannon:

Thanks for your response. I totally got where you were trying to go in regards of the photo but again that photo in particular is charged with a lot of energy. Believing in diverse families is beautiful and something I think we all can agree with but if you want more or need more context, look up the controversy around that particular United Colors of Benetton’s ad and historical context about Black women as wet-nurses (it also says a lot about what type of babies get adopted, what kind of babies are breastfed etc.). Based on our complex history (USA), photos of Black women nursing non-biological child are much easier to come by than not. I trust you will have a harder time displaying the reverse.

I am in solidarity of the work you all are doing and the messages you are trying to relay. I just didn’t get that with these photos so I thought I would bring it to your attention. I am looking forward future media regarding NBM and very excited to read the article on the online news source. As we are all advocates for women I know we want to support our clients in an intentional and beautifully, respectful way.

Jeanine

Not everything I wanted to say but wanted to share this encounter with you as an example of my frustrations and commitment to this birth and food justice work. Let me know your thoughts!

For this is the revolution.

Jeanine
@greendivasuper

Happy World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month!

Ahimsa and I got together to send a special shout out those RBGs out there. We hope you like it.

 

In solidarity,

Jeanine @greendivasuper

Do you think they will get it now?!

For the past 18 months of my breastfeeding journey I have spent a lot of my time while pumping at work looking for a peaceful and quiet place to have an ejection reflex in.

I have shared my office with 4 (then 3, then 5, then 3 again) different people. People have walked out our office, leaving the door open, as clients and other staff walk back and forth down the hall.

People have paid no attention to my initial, modest sign that stated “pumping-in-session” and walked in (read: barged in) on me to get something from the printer, to gossip, or to ask me something in person “since I didn’t pick up my phone.” None of the interruptions mind you are time sensitive nor an emergency.

I’ve had people look almost pained when I’ve asked that they complain to me about their co-worker, the youth, or their partner in about ten minutes or so; once I’m done with trying to feed my kid. Smdh.

So once I moved to my new office this past Monday (where I am alone 87% of the time), I made the above “pumping-in-session” sign because, as it  states…FOOD JUSTICE IS REAL.

Me, out of necessity, returning to work before my daughter was three months old is an abomination. Me not having a private, beautiful space to pump is offensive (and yes, I know all the breastfeeding laws business but it’s real life). As I demand the space to meet my breastfeeding goal (a minimum of two years) I found that taking things into my own hands has truly benefited me. I demanded the move and since have almost doubled my daily output. This stuff is real.

Hopefully, folxs can get it now… f&^*ing knock ’cause this is the revolution.

What have you working mamas done to create or find space to nourish you babies while away from home?

In solidarity,

Jeanine

What would be a dream come true for a breastfeeding, hip hop aficionado?

A rap song about breastfeeding no doubt!

http://cache.reverbnation.com/widgets/swf/40/pro_widget.swf?id=artist_574671&skin_id=PWAS1002&border_color=000000&auto_play=false&shuffle=false&song_ids=12078475
ComScore

I just finished listening to this lyrically amazing song Food for Thought by Njeri Earth.

Njeri Amira-Nana Earth is a mother of four, wife, daughter, sister, Hip Hop artist and musician, child care provider, business owner, youth mentor, and holds a B.A. in Organizational Management with a minor in Child Development; among other things.

Fans might recognize her from her earlier years in hip hop with her collaborations with the Wu-Tang clan’s GZA/Genius album “Beneath the Surface on songs “1112” and “Victim” and the again as the “3rd Parking Lot Rapper” in Eminem’s ” movie 8 Miles.” Releasing her first album “Supa Sista” in 2005 and then the follow up albums “20-20” in 2007 and “The Best Part” in 2008. She back now with the upcoming release “The Highest Elevation” with features this breastfeeding gift of love, Food for Thought.

Although this sista has been out for some time, the song Food for Thought is spreading through the breastfeeding advocacy community like some good gossip. With breastfeeding, Black women becoming increasingly more visible in mainstream this song is right on time.

Check out the Food for Thought lyrics below and Njeri Earth Facebook page here.

I nurse my babies from my bosom, so U can put the Similac back
The breast is best and that’s an actual fact
Unfortunately some don’t see it like that,
A woman’s chest is just for sex, may I suggest that’s foolishness
I was blessed with these to nourish my seeds
Gives em’ what they need, antibodies to combat disease, so please
Spare me your staring, snickering, and snaring,
As I’m preparing to swaddle, my babies need no bottles
Nor a pacifier, because they’re satisfied
And ain’t no other food that money buys able to give what Mother’s Milk provides
So why must, I be mocked and criticized,
Told to stay behind closed doors, like I’m breaking a law
Or doing something that’s wrong, by feeding my new borns,
And covering with a shawl where U can’t even see my bra, naw
Ya’ll dead wrong for try’na censor Mother’s Nature
Maybe U would be greater if ya mama gave ya
(Food For Thought; Designed for the mind and it can’t be bought;
No matter how they try with the lie that’s taught;
That formula is all your babies need, I encourage my sisters to Breast Feed)-
Lyrics By: Njeri Earth, from the song “Food For Thought,” – (Inspired by the Breastfeeding Mothers Unite organization) on the album “The Highest Elevation”; coming soon. PEACE!

A little breastfeeding humor I got from the Tumblr page I Love Charts.

Sorry folks for the different format for your RBG posts. I saw this picture and had to share it. Although I’m not 100% crazy about the legend in this pie chart, I TOTALLY dig the message. When I breastfeed in public, it’s to feed Ahimsa. I have to admit, at times, how I breastfeed may be a little bit political, as I’m a guerilla mama of color and everything is political (especially when it comes to our bodies and the policing of them). But ultimately, I nurse publicly because my child gets hungry (or scared or overwhelmed or sleepy) in public.

Which is why, nursing my baby on Chicago’s “el” should not make me want to vomit.

The other day while riding, Ahimsa in all her tiredness goes from standing on my lap to diving head first into my chest all while pulling my dress down. I realize she’s sleepy and hungry and go about my business nursing her. With all the stimulation, I can only imagine how she instinctively needed to turn inward, deflect some stares and comments, in order get her sleep on.

So back to the vomiting. Ahimsa’s nursing, stop after stop folks are coming and going. By the way, I don’t always cover up when I nurse, especially if I have on a sling or it’s hot as hell.

Anyway, an outburst causes Ahimsa to look up and around. It is then that my left breast waves to the passengers but was quickly hidden again by my baby’s latch. I don’t know why I immediately looked up and around, but I did, only to see a very disguising older, white “gentleman” staring me down. And with a God-awful smirk on his face.

Have you ever had one of those moments when you’re like ” I know I didn’t just see what I thought I saw.” Well, I had that moment. I looked away and then quickly looked back to see him smiling even harder. Wait, did I just see him flutter his eyebrows (ol’ googly eyes)!?!

I believe I gave him the look of death. His face went COMPLETELY white and that funky little smirk disappeared with a quickness. He looked truly shocked at my disdain and anger. I think it was then that I mouthed “f$%^ off!” which caused him to look somewhere else embarrassed.

I was livid.

Do I think I will cover up next time? Hell no. Should I have said something else to him? Dunno. Will I probably continue to get stares, jeers, and perverted looks. Prolly so.

And I don’t care.

Tell me, how you breast feed in public? Do you cover up? Why or why not?

I am a true RBG folks!!

IT’S OFFICIAL! I am now certified as a Lactation Specialist (CLS). I got my exam score and certificate in my email.

Although I was super excited and loved spending 45+ hours talking about lactation and breastfeeding, I was very disappointed with the lack of knowledge regarding cultural and socio-economic challenges to initiating breastfeeding and the role of the health care professional (HCP) in supporting this initiation. I, along with many other women there at the training, walked away with the generalization that Black women don’t breastfeed (we’ve ALL heard that right?). I thought about how damaging it was for the message to be perpetuated amongst these 200 some women who were now going to return to there jobs and continue to disempower the women of color that present at their hospitals, birth centers, and private practices.

As a health care provider, if you are “taught” that Black women don’t breastfeed, how committed and dedicated would you be to counter that messaging? Or will you be disinvested and choose not to provide the support a Black woman may need to initiate breastfeeding and continue it at home.  Needless to say, this sentiment is a poor generalization and puts all the blame on the mama. What are HCPs doing to help mamas of color? How serious are new mothers being taken when they express their breastfeeding goals to their HCP and they are met with “well, IF you are able to breastfeed” or “it’s a big commitment, do you want to really be bothered?” or better yet, my favorite, “let’s worry about breastfeeding later”  (Oh, yes, I’ve heard people tell brown and black mamas this).

HCPs (including myself) need to stop making breastfeeding longevity seem unobtainable. What kind of pump, bottle, etc is important but not as important as just getting started. We need to stop encouraging the myth that breastfeeding more difficult than it needs to be. Some women I’ve talked to have expressed early termination of breastfeeding because they couldn’t afford a particular pump, because the baby wouldn’t take the breast after the nursery nurse gave baby a pacifier, that their milk was late to come in so doc encouraged formula, because their feel like they aren’t making enough milk. No one talked to these women about their options. No one gave them the facts. None of them were empowered to make a holistic and TRULY informed decision.

I am committed and excited to use this information I have learned to help RBG mamas reach their breastfeeding goals. I will continue to learn so that I can understand how to overcome societal and medical barriers and challenges and to increase the breastfeeding initiations and duration in my community.

When they say Black women don’t breastfeed, please know that blanket statement is a lie and that MANY sisters are working diligently to increase our numbers for the benefit of our babies. Now it’s true, for various reasons some mamas just won’t be able to do this at all. And then, some mamas won’t be able to do this for long but doesn’t that mama deserve the information and the creativity to at least look at all the pieces and then be able to make a clear and informed choice?

It is a revolution, y’all.

These baby food and alternative breast milk  companies are profit makers and providing these things to our babies isn’t in our best interest. Allergies, eczema, asthma, obesity, common illnesses all can be prevented by simple lactation. And if you can’t get with baby on the breasts, pumping will work too. (Hit me up if you need to know where or how to get a free pump).

Okay, I’m done ranting for now but I will be back with more, sho’ nuff!!

RBG tip #5

As the weather changes, RBG mamas with allergies (like me) are curious about breastfeeding and allergy relief. One of the most exciting things I learned was that the active ingredient in Sudafed cold stops your breast milk. So RBG mamas with allergies, try Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica). Not only does Nettle inhibit the body’s ability to produce histamine it is also a natural galactagogue (milk stimulant). It may take a couple of weeks to notice the difference so start now before allergies get too bad.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a picture of this RBG nursing my baby during her first days. I have to say, she’s still going strong!

IMGP2982

 

For more info, options, or to see/read about other RBGs, go to*:

Free to Breastfeed: Voices from Black Mothers

Black Women Do Breastfeed

Lactation Journey Blog

Soul Veg Mama

Sistah Vegan Project

Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association

ROSE (Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere)

Blacktating

Your Guide to Breastfeeding For African American Women

First Lady’s Let’s Move Campaign and Breastfeeding  Promotion

MomsRising

U.S. Breastfeeding Committee (USBC)

*it’s better at home wants readers to decide for themselves their own options. we do not offer these resources as endorsement nor support of what is discussed (although many ARE kick ass!).

PEACE!

it’s another wonderful friday.

it’s exceptionally beautiful weather here in chicago today. i have been driving around the south side all day visiting house representatives, letting them know about the Home Birth Safety Act–SB3712. i am so high right now thinking about the beautiful sister birth workers that have come before me. i was honored and privileged to meet an elder birth worker in spite of all the running around. i ended up sitting a speaking with her for about an hour. she made me remember why i’m on this path to midwifery. we so need it in our community. i can’t wait to build with her again.

i wanted to share another powerful image of goddesses at work. this photo is from a old issue of Life Magazine of two breastfeeding mamas and their other children on the front of a rural hospital.  this is for all the granny and traditional midwives. thanks for your life work, wisdom, and inspiration.

RBGs stand up!!!!

feed your babies right!

happy friday folks! i’ve been listening to dead prez’s new mixtape “RBG: Revolutionary but Gangsta Grillz“. i’m really feeling it.  thought i’d do my own version of RBG.  how’s this for starters…

RBG: REVOLUTIONARY BREASTFEEDING GODDESS!

stay tuned for more breastfeeding inspiration.

beauty…

RBGs…where u at?!

%d bloggers like this: