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

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 people breastfeeding?

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


"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 grandmothers 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, sometimes at the expense of a Black woman's own children.

And 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 (and almost 100 of those years 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 negative perceptions of breastfeeding, and a lack of representation in the lactation support field, and the answer to the question "Why Black Breastfeeding Week?" becomes apparent.

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." They 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.

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Over one million people in Tennessee are at risk of hunger every day. And since the outbreak of COVID-19, Second Harvest has seen a 50% increase in need for their services. That's why Amazon is Delivering Smiles and giving back this holiday season by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Second Harvest to feed those hit the hardest this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local food bank or charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

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A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
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