It's Black Breastfeeding Week. Wondering why? One gut-punching poem says it all.

"I wish I dried up..."

It's Black Breastfeeding Week, a week set aside in the U.S. to celebrate and encourage black breastfeeding parents.

Some may wonder why such a week is necessary. After all, that's a pretty narrow niche, isn't it? Aren't black moms included in all breastfeeding awareness and education campaigns? Is there something special about black breastfeeding?

The answer is yes, there is something unique about black breastfeeding. Several somethings, actually. But one reason Black Breastfeeding Week exists is summed up in a gut-wrenching poem by feminist author Hess Love.


RELATED: It only became legal to breastfeed in public in all 50 states in 2018.

"I wish I dried up
I wish every drop of my milk slipped passed those pink lips and nourished the ground
Where the bones lay
Of my babies
Starved while I feed their murderer
I wish I dried up
So the missus babies would dry up too
And be brittle
So I could crumble them to dust
Return them to the ground
Where all children of my bosom lay equal"
- Hess Love

As Parenting Decolonized points out, black parents have only been able to raise their own children for less than 160 years in America. That's basically two 80-year-old grandmas living back to back. For most of U.S. history, generation upon generation upon generation of black families were torn apart. Black mothers were often not allowed to nourish and raise their own babies, but were forced to nourish and raise the babies of their enslavers. For most of U.S. history, black breastfeeding meant wet nursing white babies, often at the expense of a black woman's own children.

When I say "most of U.S. history," I mean that literally. Slavery was the standard for close to 250 years on our soil, compared to the 154 years since slavery was legally abolished (almost 100 of which still allowed legal discrimination). The impact of that reality doesn't just disappear because slavery ended and the Civil Rights Act passed.

However, the historical effects stemming from slavery are not the only reason Black Breastfeeding Week is important. Black mothers face higher maternal and infant mortality rates in the U.S., and according to the CDC, there are "substantial" differences in breastfeeding rates between black mothers and white mothers.

Add in cultural and social issues surrounding black women's bodies, ongoing perceptions of breastfeeding in black communities, and a lack of representation in the lactation support field, and the answer to the question "Why Black Breastfeeding Week?" becomes apparent.

RELATED: A Patagonia employee breastfed her baby in a meeting. Her male VP's response is a masterclass in workplace values.

As Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez wrote on Scary Mommy,

"National Breastfeeding Month, which is observed the full month of August, addresses a few of the social concerns associated with breastfeeding, such as the mental exhaustion, the anatomical challenges, and the lingering stigma. But it doesn't address the ways each of these uniquely impact Black women.

The discourse that developed from Black Breastfeeding Week met me where 'regular' breastfeeding concerns left me struggling. It was a resource that tackled what it meant to nurse in public when your body is already hypersexualized. Black women and girls have some of the highest reports of sexual assault, as society seems to believe our bodies are community property- a message taught during slavery."

I know there will be people in the comments saying, "Slavery ended more than 100 years ago. Get over it." These people don't understand the far-reaching effects of historical trauma. They don't understand that centuries of violent oppression followed by another century of blatant, legal discrimination impacts generations, and that the racism at the heart of all of that is still present in the health statistics of black mothers and infants in America.

This is why Black Breastfeeding Week is needed. For more information, see www.blackbreastfeedingweek.org.

Time Passes

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture