A new program in Mississippi is helping Black mothers breastfeed. Here's why it's crucial.
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The Delta Baby Cafe in Sunflower County, Mississippi is providing breastfeeding assistance where it's needed most.

Mississippi has the third lowest rate of breastfeeding in America. Only 70% of infants are ever-breastfed in the state, compared to 84% nationally.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants be exclusively breastfed for their first six months of life. However, in Mississippi, less than 40% are still breastfeeding at six months.


The population of Sunflower County is 74% Black and studies show that only 69% of Black mothers breastfeed their babies at birth, 16% fewer than white mothers.

There are multiple reasons why Black women are less likely to breastfeed their children. First, according to the CDC, maternity wards that serve large Black populations are less likely to help Black women initiate breastfeeding after birth or provide lactation support afterward.

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"With breastfeeding specifically, there's an assumption when [Black] women give birth that they're not going to breastfeed, and they're not offered the same kind of assistance. They're offered formulas right away. There is no attention paid to potential health risks," Andrea Freeman, law professor and author of "Skimmed: Breastfeeding, Race, and Injustice," told NPR.

Black women are are also overrepresented in low-wage jobs which tend to have inflexible schedules and provide less maternity leave.

"Policies that enable taking paid leave after giving birth, flexible work schedules, and support for breastfeeding or expressing milk at work might help improve breastfeeding intention, initiation, and duration," a CDC study says.

To add to the issue, Black babies have a greater chance of being born premature or with low birth weight. "Black women have babies born too small and too soon," Kimberly Seals Allers, a maternal and infant health strategist, told PBS. "Those babies need breastmilk the most."

Research suggests that breastfed babies face a lower risk of developing diabetes, obesity, asthma, digestive tract, ear, and respiratory infections.

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The Delta Baby Cafe, supported by the Delta Health Alliance, provides support for new mothers by teaching logistical techniques, such as how to position the baby while feeding. It also provides access to breast pumps, and breastfeeding education.

"I started attending the breastfeeding classes, then it just got easier and easier," Kaylyn Walker said. "It's definitely a different experience (than with her first daughter who was bottle-ed). So like I said, I didn't plan on going this long but, you know, with my daughter, if it's something she likes then I'm okay with it. And it helps her as well with her immune system. Anything that's helping her, I'm okay with it."

The Baby Cafe's main goal is to increase the number of women in Sunflower County who breastfeed, but to also reduce the stigma associated with breastfeeding. By supporting over 80 new mothers a month and promoting breastfeeding as a women's health issue, hopefully this will increase breastfeeding numbers in the county.

"When you start by having programs and having things available for women, you begin to see that this is a part of a woman's health," says Jacqueline Lambert who launched the Baby Cafe last year. "I think most of it, the stigma, is because we just don't see it. And when you don't see a thing, you don't think it's normal."

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With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

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I remember being baffled that so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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Eight months into the pandemic, you'd think people would have the basics figured out. Sure, there was some confusion in the beginning as to whether or not masks were going to help, but that was months ago (which might as well be years in pandemic time). Plenty of studies have shown that face masks are an effective way to limit the spread of the virus and public health officials say universal masking is one of the keys to being able to safely resume some normal activities.

Normal activities include things like getting a coffee at Starbucks, but a viral video of a barista's encounter with an anti-masker shows why the U.S. will likely be living in the worst of both worlds—massive spread and economic woe—for the foreseeable future.

Alex Beckom works at a Starbucks in Santee, California and shared a video taken after a woman pulled down her "Trump 2020" mask to ask the 19-year-old barista a question, pulled it back up when the barista asked her to, then pulled it down again.

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

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2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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