The Boob Group
The Racial Divide Within the Lactation Community
SUNNY GAULT: All breastfeeding and pumping mothers need support, but sometimes there are barriers, usually for women of color. Some of these barriers include inaccurate stereotypes, lack of resources and less opportunity to work with specialists of color. Who can better relate to their situation? So what does this racial divide mean for the lactation community? Today we're exploring some of those big issues. We're The Boob Group.
SUNNY GAULT: Welcome to The Boob Group, we're here to support all moms who want to give their baby’s breast milk and to respect the choices of moms who want to feed their babies in other ways. I'm Sunny Gault, thanks so much for listening. Have you subscribed to our show yet? The Boob Group is available on a bunch of different platforms including iTunes and Stitcher, speaker, TuneIn and most recently google play music.
So while you're there please consider leaving us a review, it’s just so important for us to know what you think about the show and some of the changes that we've made, and it’s also just a great way for other parents to learn more about us. A lot of these systems are based on reviews, so if you leave a review that’s how things show up in search results. So it’s very helpful for us, if you haven’t left a review yet please do so on whatever platform you're listening to us through. So let’s meet the mommas that are joining our conversation today, and Rebecca let’s start with you.
REBECCA JACKSON-ARTIS: Hello, my name is Rebecca Jackson-Artist and I live in Raleigh, North Carolina with my husband and three children. I have a step daughter, 14, an 8 year old and a 6 year old. Both of those are boys, and I breastfed for five years, loved it. And I am a certified lactation specialist as well as a doula in training and an actor, writer and comedian.
SUNNY GAULT: Awesome. Graham, tell us about yourself.
GRAHAM SEABROOK: Hello, my name is Graham Seabrook and I live in Charleston, South Carolina with both children. I have a 3 year old and a 6 month old, and a boyfriend who is cradling them both right now so that I can be here with you all. I am a writer, and I’m really just excited to be here.
SUNNY GAULT: And promote your website because I know you just relaunched in everything.
GRAHAM SEABROOK: Yes, just relaunched. Brand new website, it’s the www.postpartummama.org, and its specifically for women who are dealing with any maternal mental illness, challenges, postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, or postpartum psychosis, I've got your back.
SUNNY GAULT: That’s awesome. Alright and Moon.
AFRICAN MOON: Greetings everyone, I'm African Moon, I am the mother of 3 children, 8, 4, and 7 months. I have been breastfeeding for 8 years now. Oh and I’m working on an upcoming documentary called The History of our Chocolate Milk, and The History of our Chocolate Milk specifically speaks about the history of breastfeeding in the black communities.
SUNNY GAULT: Oh I love it. Fantastic! You have to let me know when that’s ready and we can promote it to the audience and stuff so. Okay and Kimberly is joining us as our expert, so Kimberly tell us a little bit more about yourself.
KIMBERLY DURDIN: Hi Sunny, thanks for inviting me to the show. My name is Kimberly Durdin, I’m a lactation consultant, board certified. I’m a student midwife, hopefully will be a licensed midwife sometime early in 2017. Primarily focusing on home births, and birth center births, and I’m also an educator, I do child birth education, breastfeeding classes, and seminars, and workshops for professionals, etcetera. That’s me, oh by the way I do have 6 children.
SUNNY GAULT: You forgot that part.
KIMBERLY DURDIN: At this point I’m just saying a half a dozen children, and that pretty much sums it up.
SUNNY GAULT: That’s awesome.
SUNNY GAULT: Alright so before we kick off our conversation today, we have a news headline that if you haven’t seen this video yet, that’s going around Facebook, you may be in the minority here, let’s just put it that way. I just found out about it yesterday and apparently, what is it, five million other people have watched this video. It’s a very short video, and it’s of a dad who is, I believe he's got three kids, has a father of three and he's based in Florida, his name is Chris, and his partner I think is, is not, I don’t know, she’s at work, she’s not at home right? And the baby needs to be fed, and he found this interesting way of feeding the baby in more of a breastfeeding-friendly position.
So picture this, it looks like he's got, you know like a tank top on or something like that, and where the nipple should be, he actually went through in the back end and like cut out a hole or something and put the nipple, of a bottle I believe, there. And then he is holding the baby in a breastfeeding position, so it kind of mimics, you know, how baby would feel if, you know, mom was feeding her. Now we're not trying to say that the bottle is the same as a breast or anything like that, we're just saying the overall position of it, and being close to dad and all that, you know, it is kind of in the breastfeeding style.
So if you haven’t checked out the video, check it out, but I wanted to get the take of the mammas that are here on the conversation today to see what you guys thought, so Graham let’s start with you, what do you think?
GRAHAM SEABROOK: Didn’t they already do this on, was it Meet the Parents, or Meet the Focker’s or one of those. Didn’t he do this already?
SUNNY GAULT: There was like a bra thing, with Meet the Focker’s right?
GRAHAM SEABROOK: Right. Okay I couldn’t remember which one it was, but I know, like, they already did this. I honestly, I don’t have any problem with this dad doing this. When Adam is trying to feed our daughter with the bottle, he tries to get her in the closest position to how I hold her.
SUNNY GAULT: Yeah.
GRAHAM SEABROOK: So that she will take that bottle, so that we can all go back to sleep. Cool, do what you got to do, not a problem. My thing is, how do you get famous for this?
SUNNY GAULT: What do you ladies think? Moon, what do you think?
AFRICAN MOON: You know, I’m glad she brought that point out, because this just shows how far away we've gotten from nature that a father says "hey, I’m going to use a bottle and put the baby in a breastfeeding position" and everybody loses their mind it’s like " oh my god, he's a genius, he's trying to do so and so", you know like we've gotten so far away from breastfeeding and breastfeeding being normal that
the mere sight of it shocks the whole world when a dad does it. I think it’s absolutely insane, when I kept watching it was like why do our people keep sharing this video with me? Like are you kidding me right now.
SUNNY GAULT: Alright Rebecca unleash, I know you got an opinion on this.
REBECCA JACKSON-ARTIS: Okay first of all let’s talk about this. Why is this all of a sudden cool, and popular, and cute, and exciting, and interesting, you know, women have been doing this for thousands and thousands of years, and then we were told not to do it, and we found a way to get back into understanding the power of the feminine body, a feminine energy. We're not applauded for it. We're like "oh yeah, yeah, you know, oh that’s cute", or you know "just cover up and go, go over there in the corner". And a man does this and it’s like " Oh my gosh, that’s so cute, it’s so funny, it’s so popular".
And I think I’m at the point where that kind of repelled me. Women are constantly being substituted in the society. We constantly are a promotion to substitute the women. Okay so we're going to have bottles, okay so we're going to have day cares, okay we're going to have, just all the time, and so now we have another way to say, " oh yeah I could do what a woman does, whatever, it’s not even all that". And that’s where I get offended by this, that’s where it kind of repels me.
SUNNY GAULT: Yeah. I do think we have to give the dad a little bit of credit, because I can’t think of, like, I know my husband wouldn’t have done a video of this. Even if he was doing it in private, I do give him some props, and I don’t think he thought, almost now, six million people were gonna watch it. But I kind of have to give him some props for putting himself out there, I mean it’s not really the most “manly thing” to do right? I mean if we're looking at this from that perspective, I do think he deserves some props for saying “listen I know breastfeeding is important, and this is important to my baby, and so I want to make this work". But I see your guys’ point.
GRAHAM SEABROOK: Yes, I have no problem with him feeding the baby that way, I have no problem with him being like, she’s not home, baby is hungry, I’m going to take care of this, and I’m going to handle my business. I have no problem with him videoing it and saying "hey guys, here’s an idea for when your wife, girlfriend, whoever, isn’t home and your baby is hungry", that totally makes sense. Five million people you all, five million people. What? That’s where I get confused.
REBECCA JACKSON-ARTIS: Well I’ll just tell you this, I would file for divorce if my husband did that. Oh my gosh, no, so unsexy. Breastfeeding is amazing and empowering, and it’s also so much, because we have distanced ourselves in the society from the power of the feminine body, and what amazing things we can do without even thinking about it, like, we build nervous systems and we don’t even think about it. And so then when here we have this mans like, oh look I can put this little, you know, this prosthetic, because
that’s basically what it is, on my body and then do this, and oh it’s so cute. That, I don’t know, that’s off putting.
SUNNY GAULT: I got you, I got you. Alright well the video is on our Facebook page, of course it’s on five million Facebook pages or whatever, so go check it out if you haven’t seen it yet, and feel free to continue the conversation on our page about it.
SUNNY GAULT: Alright so today we're talking about the racial divide within the lactation community, and Kimberly Derting is our expert, she’s an IBCLC, a student midwife, and you heard her introduce herself a little bit earlier, a lot of credentials to her name. Kimberly, welcome to the boob group.
KIMBERLY DURDIN: Thank you. Nice to be here.
SUNNY GAULT: Let’s talk, mammas, about common stereotypes for women of color. What are some of these stereotypes, and then how can it be a barrier?
REBECCA JACKSON-ARTIS: Okay, first of all, you know, we all know that a majority of people in the United States kind of view black women as people who just don’t breastfeed. Or if we do breastfeed we have some formula somewhere on the side. It also, another thing that I've noticed is that even within the medical field, black women are kind of treated like, even if we do breastfeed that we don’t really know what we're doing, like that we don’t really understand the clinical side, and we don’t do the research. And last, that outside and even in the profession, the lactation profession, black IBCLC's, black peer counselors, whatever, we're kind of marginalized in having that seat at the conference table, at these boards, and how they're making policy decisions. They're just not including us in these.
AFRICAN MOON: You know, I think the biggest stereotype that hurts the community is the fact that everywhere you look it says that black women don’t breastfeed, that sends a message in itself, you know, whether you are breastfeeding now or you're thinking about getting pregnant or whatever, when you keep reading that over and over and over again, it’s in your mind. So once that child gets here, it’s like okay well I’m not producing enough milk because, you know, we don’t do this anyway, you know, I think that that’s the part that really kills us before we even get started, is that programming over and over again that black women just don’t do that.
KIMBERLY DURDIN: If you look for pictures of black women breastfeeding, if you google that, most of the pictures that are going to come up are black women from slavery and directly after breastfeeding white children, that’s what you see. And there’s just no way that, that isn’t in the back of your mind. Whether you are a black woman who’s best feeding or whether you are a lactation consultant who is a white woman,
there’s no way to get around that, there’s no way that that isn’t in your head, and that stuff like that doesn’t inform you, whether you want it to or not is not the question, it’s there, and if we don’t kind of dredge those things up and examine them and talk about them, there’s no way to change how they are informing the work that we do.
AFRICAN MOON: Not just that, most of, if you're looking outside of the US, the other photos that you see are of women from tribes.
KIMBERLY DURDIN: Yes, yeah.
AFRICAN MOON: You know, so you can’t put yourself in that situation because you're not in a tribe, so it’s like okay, so people who look like me were giving up and were going to work, and were, or running through the house chasing down four or five children like we just don’t do those things because there are no images of us that show that it can be done now.
KIMBERLY DURDIN: It’s so weird to me, it seems like baby wearing, and breastfeeding, is either this tribal African thing or this suburban middle class white thing. And I don’t understand how everybody in the middle got pushed out of doing those two things. Like how did we go, you know, how did that happen?
REBECCA JACKSON-ARTIS: And let’s just say it, let’s put it out there, baby wearing started with us.
KIMBERLY DURDIN: Right.
REBECCA JACKSON-ARTIS: You know, let’s just put it out there
KIMBERLY DURDIN: And now it’s gone.
REBECCA JACKSON-ARTIS: You know, we taught a lot of white women how to breastfeed. Because we were midwives, we were, they didn’t have the word for doulas, but we were birth assistants back in the day, and we were the one that set up a white woman after birth, you know, and said okay this is how you breastfeed, this is how you diaper, this is how you do skin to skin, you know, we were doing that a long time ago, and for some reason we're wiped out of that history.
KIMBERLY DURDIN: Yes. Exactly.
GRAHAM SEABROOK: As Rebecca was saying, we used to be the go to, we have a legacy of black midwives who, you know, maybe there wasn’t lactation consultants, you know, 100 years ago, maybe not even 50 years ago, but why, why did this pop up out of the blue, when we look at the history of African people in the united states, when we came to the shores, you know, we came with the knowledge of birthing babies,
we assisted in birthing babies, we even, you know, grew midwifery as a profession, especially in the southern united states. But you know, and there were midwives of all stripes, but we did have a huge collection of black midwives in the south and when the OBGYN profession became this new thing the whole midwifery profession so to speak was wiped out.
What’s so striking about that is that, our black midwives in our communities that took care of us black folks, and took care of white folks, and took care of brown folks, were also the go to for breastfeeding information, were also the go to for mothering, for families. So it’s interesting that we are kind of shut out in many ways from receiving what is considered, you know, the gold standard of lactation support these days, when the truth of the matter is, we already had lactation support in our communities, we already had all kinds of support around the child bearing years, it built in to our communities and that was stripped away from us.
SUNNY GAULT: When it comes to lactation in general, like how do you perceive women of color being approached about this, and how is that impacting everything?
KIMBERLY DURDIN: Quote on quote, lactation professionals, or lactation support people, or nurses in hospitals who sometimes are the front line when someone gives birth in terms of breastfeeding support, you know, when they have a whole bunch of folks they need to see in the hospital to support with breastfeeding, sometimes they could just kind of gloss over women of color because they’ve got it in their mind somewhere that it’s going to be challenging to support them, that they don’t really breastfeed, that they’re going to have to spend a lot of time convincing them. And have had lactation professionals come up to me at conferences and say "wow I don’t even bother talking to African American women about breastfeeding because I keep hearing that they don’t do it".
GRAHAM SEABROOK: Well it was assumed, when I was pregnant with my first child, and we were talking to my OB about all of the classes that they have at the hospital, you know, the new parent classes, she gave us all of the information and I went into the hospital to sign up, because it was right next to my OB's office, to sign us up for all of the classes, and she signed us up for the new parent, you know, what to expect after the baby thing, and then, that was it, she thought she was done, and I said well what about the breastfeeding class? And I swear this woman looked at me like, oh you, oh okay, you know, it was one of those, it didn’t even occur to her that even though this class is here, this class is free, its given at the hospital, its given for every woman who is signed up to give birth at that hospital, and the first people that you meet who are supposed to be signing you up for every possible class, and educating you as much as possible, it didn’t even occur to her that I would want to take the breastfeeding class.
When she said how many, she didn’t even say how many people, I said can the father come as well? Then she looked at me, it was a double triple take, oh there’s a dad, oh, has going to want to come to this class. I
mean she was, if I could have taken a picture of her face at that moment, and I went home and I told him, I was like babe I don’t even know if I want to go to this thing now, because that woman just, she just made me really angry, those are not the words I used, but were trying to keep it clean right here, but I mean she really, she made me really, really angry, and we actually looked around at other hospitals to see if we can take the class someplace else. But at least down here they want you to be registered to give birth where they're doing the classes. Which makes sense. So we did end up going to that class, and that was where I met my lactation consultant, and she’s wonderful, and I’m really glad I went to the class, but that first contact point, that was interesting.
REBECCA JACKSON-ARTIS: Yeah, yeah I have an interesting story as well with my first son. I went in, for some kind of reason, to the doctor, and I went at a hospital in Chicago, a teaching hospital, so I went in and she looked over thrice and oh he looks great, and somehow I put in there, I was like oh yeah well I’m breastfeeding, and I think thrice at that point was something like 8 or 9 months. She looked at me, and I get what you're saying, Graham, with the face, and she was like, haka, and she clapped, she was like oh, that’s wonderful, and I kid you not, the words that came out of her mouth, typically you guys don’t breastfeed this long.
And I wanted to say, and I looked and I said, you guys, and I think, you know, it’s always, you know, how you always go, what I would say, but when you're in those moments you're just so shocked that thing happened that afterwards you're in the car and you're cursing them out in the car and you're like why did, and I just looked and I did say what do you mean? And she’s like, well that’s wonderful that you're, you're, it was like she was,
KIMBERLY DURDIN: How did you....
REBECCA JACKSON-ARTIS: Belittling me, oh that’s so great that you're still doing it, and that’s so, and you like really don’t hear a lot from me, and I remember her leaving, and I dressed Thrice back up and I was like we're out, and I didn’t ever go back. Because I knew plenty of black women in Chicago who I was having mommy groups with, who were breastfeeding exclusively and their babies were 8, 9,10,11,12 months.
GRAHAM SEABROOK: It’s really racism, institutionalized racism, systematic institutionalized racism, that is at the top of the divide, it intersects everything in our lives, and I think that’s the hard thing for people to understand is that racism doesn’t just affect, you know, one aspect of one group of people’s lives, it affects all of our lives. It touches everything, at every interaction, we're seen in this country as groups of people, and we're not seen as like, Americans, all trying to raise breastfeeding rights for all the babies in America.
We break things down into groups and sometimes that’s to learn things about the differences of different groups but I mean, unfortunately, unless you're a lactation professional of Dominique culture, let’s just say
white folks, unless you’re a white lactation consultant who actually lives in a diverse community, has a diverse group of friends, etcetera etcetera. The only way you're going to learn about black folks breastfeeding is to read a study or to look at some numbers that somebody put together, and you're going to go with that instead of just your interactions with the people in your community, because also we do often live in more segregated communities.
Even if we're not in a segregated community, many times our friends, our friends lists is segregated, and I really, vie been asking people in the professional communities to take a look at that for years, you know, like "hey as a professional, as a la lecher league leader, as a whatever, who are your friends?" If your friend base is not diverse then ask yourself why, start there, because otherwise you don’t have real time interactions and relationships with people of all different backgrounds, and faiths, and colors, and genders, and all that, it becomes easier, or it becomes harder to not just put people into a group based on a particular study or idea or ideology that you've been hearing about. You know what I’m saying?
SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, when it comes to lactation resources, so extending perhaps beyond just, you know, seeing someone, you know, going to an appointment or whatever. How much access do you think women of color have to this information, is it enough, and is it not available in all the right areas? Wh at’s your take on that?
AFRICAN MOON: I will start off by saying, no it’s not enough. It’s not enough, there are a lot of black women who want to become lactation consultants or peer counselors or whatever, and there is a block there that are keeping them from getting to that point, you know, I’ve had a lot of women tell me that they want, they did want to breastfeed, but the lactation consultant did sort of the same thing to them like what Rebecca was describing.
So a white lady came in and says "well you know, I know you guys don’t breastfeed, so if you want to try it you can, and this is the way that you do it", and when you listen to things like that, it already put you in the mindset that I’m going to fail, I’m going to fail so I’m not going to try. So we need more people who look like us who understand, who understands the thoughts that go on in our minds when we see people who don’t look like us trying to give us a pat on the back I should say, you know, we need that. But we also need for our white counterparts to walk away, you know, everything can’t be helped just because you're a mother and I’m a mother.
Sometimes I have to see someone who looks like me, who understands me, and that is what’s going to push me forward, and we don’t have enough of them, and we really need to not just get more lactation consultants who look like us, but we need to see more images of just everyday women breastfeeding, we need to do that, we need to get more photographers to go out there and take a picture. You know, I see some of these pictures and they're beautiful, don’t get me wrong where you have these mothers and they're out in the pond or the beach or whatever and they're breastfeeding, and those are beautiful.
But can we get some photos of mothers at home? Can we get some photos of a mother riding a bus, you know, walking up the street, you know, the kind of stuff that actually happens so we can actually see ourselves in these photos, to say, well you know what she does it, so I might be able to pull that off. I get all the time, every time I leave the darn house, I get people saying, "Oh wow, where are you from?" And I quickly say I’m from the east side of Detroit, you know, I say that quick like because I don’t want you to look at me and think because I’m baby wearing and I’m breastfeeding and my baby wears cloth diapers that I’m African.
I’m not African, I don’t have any problems with African, but I’m from the east side of Detroit. We do that over there as well, you know, I want for people to see that, people need to see those images. We need to be in pictures, we need to be in movies, we need to have videos, we need all of these things so we can start changing that voice that lives inside of us that has been told over and over again that breastfeeding is wrong, black women don’t do it, you're going to fail, it’s going to hurt, your child is going to be spoiled, you're not going to be able to go back to work, you're not going to be able to get any sleep. We need images to shut down all of those, that negative talk that lives inside of us because of everything that goes on around us.
SUNNY GAULT: So as a result, what are the trends that we're starting to see? What are you seeing as far as the attitude of breastfeeding and everything within the community?
REBECCA JACKSON-ARTIS: We’re still under this umbrella of maybe not everyone should know where doing there still a lot of African-American women quick closet breastfeeding or not telling everybody impressed before they run into work or there's a, you can feel a bit of an idea empowered and breastfeed like the question is still bringing up I know because I said I hear and I see it more often. More women are saying no, and more black women are saying I want a breastfeeding class and all I want to look for a black woman teaching a black breastfeeding class you know, or I will I really I'm going on YouTube and I'm going to actively do my research about breastfeeding come to the table with some knowledge. So that's happening and that's a great thing.
However the society is not catching up to us. I still have my black moms call me and say you know this pediatrician said this to me, said oh it's okay if you just want to give up and give formula and I've actually witnessed pediatrician, one pediatrician in a Chicago hospital and I’m not going to say what hospital that in the pediatric department I had to substitute for an IBCLC one time and I saw where he treated a white mom and encouraged the white mom through her breastfeeding issues to continue and then in the next room with the black mom she had a very minor issue and literally told her it's okay to formula feed.
When I called him out on it and by the way they never asked me to come back and substitute when I get out about it and I said I don't and I never said black-white why did you tell that mom that and you told that
mom that when I knew in the white male pediatrician looked at me and said come on Rebecca you know black women it's hard for them to be receptive to encouragement about breastfeeding quick I mean this weren’t exact words but basically he said that to encourage a black woman to breastfeed you got more resistance from black women.
I was like that's not true and I said because I dealt with both of them after because that's what he brought me to go help her with breastfeeding and they both were receptive to information education and support so I don't understand and that's when again as I said they never asked me to come back to substitute but I realized then that we as black women are progressing but society is not catching up to us.
AFRICAN MOON: Well you know what though the problem may not necessarily be with that doctor because he could be reading the same articles that I see all the time says that black women don't breastfeed so he has that in his mind because he just read it right because I saw it on Google so it has to be true right? So when he goes and he sees a black mother automatically without thinking about it says okay you know what just it's okay for you to give up, that that would be that that's okay because he has been programmed as well but these are the dangers of the conversation only being about the failures
REBECCA JACKSON-ARTIS: right.
AFRICAN MOON: We need more conversation about our successes so people can get a balance so that the automatic response won't be that it's okay, you don't you guys don't do it anyway so it's alright for you to walk away from it
KIMBERLY DURDIN: You know I think there's also another thing going on where what I see from my circle of friends and my family is that more educated and more middle-class black women are definitely and younger. So women who are younger than I am I'm thirty years old and women who are younger than I am and women were educated and who had a little bit more money are trending towards breastfeeding. Women who are older than I am so some of our moms and some of our grandmas and women who just, I mean I now have two friends who gave birth and had to be back at work one within a month and one within three weeks and both of them were just like I'm not even messing with this.
They did it in the hospital they got home switch to formula because they had to get on with the business of healing as soon as possible and get back to work, they did not he as soon as possible they did not have the support and I don't know how much of that is class issue and how much of that is a race and how much of that is both, I think it is definitely both. But they just did not have people behind them saying did you know I was the first person to say that I'm did you know that your health insurance will cover a pump, did you know that? Did you know that you can get this piece of equipment that will help you so that when you can't be with your baby you can pump and when you can be with your baby you can have that relationship you don't have to choose between those two things.
They had no idea and they have both given birth at a major hospital. So it's just really frustrating on so many different levels that you feel like either I've got the knowledge and I'm pushing back against the medical community sometimes or I see women who don't have the knowledge and who aren't being given the knowledge by that medical community I know that the la leche league in my area has very few black and Latino members very, very few and Trystane is a pretty mixed area demographically but when you start talking about groups that are focused on breastfeeding there's almost no women of color anywhere.
REBECCA JACKSON-ARTIS: Oh yeah let's talk about that because I reached out to my local reached out to my local allegedly on the Southside of Chicago and I was given resistance to become allegedly leader and it was very well talked about that I just was not really wanted and that's when I decided to start my own group because what happened was here if anybody knows anything about the south of Chicago and Hyde Park in particular it’s a very racially diverse area. That's where University Chicago and you have just as many black people educated black people, middle-class black people who are breastfeeding and everything but I will go to a la leche league meetings and I would be the only one and I did this happen repeatedly.
I started asking the women the black women in the area and they said “no they don't want us there” or “I don't feel comfortable because they I can't find an identity that like no one there looks like me ” and when I brought that up to the leaders there it was met with a shrug kind of like, well you know they know we are here and oh well. That's where we really need to talk about this let's talk about IBCLC and how IBCLC hadn’t had a black person on the board for 30 years.
For 30 years they didn’t have and what's the most insulting part of it you don't even have to be in a lactation educator of any training lactation to be on the board that's why I refuse to become an IBCLC because if I can't be represented in the board if my people can't be sitting at the table making decisions then why should I pay an organization and beg them to give me a piece of paper and take their test to be a part of an organization that clearly does not want me there so we have that we don't really talk about this.
SUNNY GAULT: Okay we are going to take a quick break because we need to break for just a second. I want to pick up this conversation so when we come back we're going to dive right back into this we're going to talk about lactation professionals and what can be done to help close this gap so we will be right back.
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SUNNY GAULT: Alright welcome back everyone. We're continuing our discussion about the Racial Divide amongst the lactation community and we talked in the first half about the challenges of not enough women of color being in these types of positions so that their role models and in so that they can talk to the women of color and everyone feels a little bit more comfortable with the whole process. So what are some of the challenges like, what aren’t we seeing this more? What are the challenges in front of men and women that want to be in these types of roles that happen to be of color what you see here we see happening?
AFRICAN MOON: We are being blocked, there is a gatekeeper standing between the black community and certification. The gatekeeper is not allowing us in an order for us to receive those certifications so we can get in front of the people who look like us.
KIMBERLY DURDIN: It's a gate keeping mentality if, and I don't think even people are aware of it. I think a lot of times there is a racial thing but there's also an economic issue. There are white lactation consultants that don't want to help other white women become lactation that was in your area because it might take away business from them. So that isn't necessarily about race but when we add race into it then it gets a little bit more complicated and convoluted. So yes gatekeepers all across the board is everybody a gatekeeper? No!
But gate keeping is inherently a thought process in dominant groups it’s like, who am I going to let in? How is this going to affect me and my bottom line maybe you're lactation professional or your midwife or whatever and you are a Dominant culture and your clients are dominant culture but also your clients are you have races that are in your clients load? You have folks that don't want people of color to be a part of the care. Can you take on a black intern in a segregated part of town, I mean that is going to take a big stand, I mean how is that going to affect your business?
SUNNY GAULT: So how do we influence change obviously this isn't right how to influence change?
REBECCA JACKSON-ARTIS: We might have to just say “Well you know what clearly you're not implementing change then you know we don't need la leche league we're going to create our black breastfeeding mothers unit or black breastfeeding mothers Association and we're going do our own chapters” and that's how you implement that change you stop waiting for the abuser to stop abusing and you demand that I'm walking away and I'm creating my own.
GRAHAM SEABROOK: But I will tell you that I know that there is a big push specially the ILKA, the ILKA conference which is our yearly lactation conference from the international lactation consultant Association on the last couple of years have responded to the lack of professionals of color, how difficult it is for folks who want to become professionals to get into lactation profession.
Honestly whatever colored stripe or country because it's you know, the lactation consultant organization is supposed to be international and if you don't live in the US it's really hard to go through the process for a lot of different reasons of becoming an IBCLC. So they done a couple of summits I think I done two so far to really speak to that issue and it's been very eye-opening for a lot of IBCLC’s very, very, very, eye opening and very painful.
But we don't start to really unpack what that is and really take a look at it and dismantle it within our own profession then nothing is really going to change because it's a systematic problem it's not an individual in an organization problem. It´s just the way that we're used to having the world work in United States and so you know really increasing the number of lactation professionals of color of varying genders etc. and the international presence is really you know, it’s taking a huge, huge, huge effort and everyone kind of has to be bought into that goal and everyone in the profession has to see that as important.
AFRICAN MOON: Well you know what I can say what needs to happen is not for the black women to keep asking but at some point the white mothers are going have to step up and say “hey how come in on any black woman here?” you know if you if that's what you want to help with then start calling people out like,“hey you know I have been to a few meetings and I haven't seen anyone of any race other than white mothers here why is that?” you know that's what it's going to take from it from a different end of you stepping up and saying “you know what this doesn’t look right to me”.
KIMBERLY DURDIN: And a lot of times you know it becomes a heated discussion because unless you're willing to deal with you know, the systematic racism and an institutionalized racism in this country unless you're really willing to look at that and face, no head on basic get uncomfortable allow yourself to really feel the accountability of those truths, then you are never going to figure out you know, why we are, where we are with breastfeeding in the black community or any other issue you know that kind of speaks to racing and things in our culture.
You're never going to, you have to kind of look at the rout and we have to go really far back and really look at how did we get here and I think that there is a real way that we can do this in a way that it's about us being all enlightened and getting on the same page in opposed to he said she said you know, but we really have to come say what this is what happened all of us. And what we are today can we rectify this and maybe there where some sorry, I am sorry that needed to be had, maybe yeah it wasn't you, you know maybe it wasn’t you, right now who did something to the people of color. But maybe it was in you lineage maybe You know that your grandmother had a black nanny, you're not responsible for that but you're
responsible to acknowledge that yes this did happen and that this has an effect on what's going on today and no it's not just that black folks are ignorant or black folks just don't want to do this or black folks just don’t know any better or black mothers don't care enough about the babies, it's not that!
I really challenge themselves allies to really look within their personal history and family history to begin to unwind and unravel the whole amazing and unusual American story that we have.
SUNNY GAULT: Alright mammas we have to wrap up the conversation share this episode share this episode with other people and it's okay if it makes people feel uncomfortable. It's okay. We talk about that another episode will talk about the stuff we're going to continue to feel uncomfortable right we have to move forward so this resonated with you in anyway share it share with leaders share with educators share with your whoever your provider is share it get the word out.
SUNNY GAULT: Alright so we have one question from one of our listeners Katie posted this on her Facebook page she says “hi I love you podcast but a little bit behind so I apologize if my question has been covered recently” she says “I have a seven month old who was exclusively breast-fed until six months and is still primarily breast-fed but getting about 6 ounces of formula day my issue was the biting his bottom teeth cut at four months and both top ones have cut within the last three days he is consistently biting me when I try to nurse him during the day he's broken skin more than once and each time he bites I unlatch him while saying no bite after three times the cover-up and switch sides. I've tried nursing in a quiet room laying down walking around background noise talking with people inside and out I don't have any issues with the nurse before bed around four when he wakes up with a first meeting between seven to nine is this the normal weaning progression or do you have any suggestions” thank you so much Katie and Rowen.
MICHELLE STULBERG: Hi Katie, this is Michelle Stulberg in the IBCLC in the Washington DC area with metropolitan breastfeeding, great question. Biting can be so frustrating and painful and it sounds like you're doing everything right when the baby bites it's important that we react calmly so that we don't upset the baby and scare them. One other suggestion is to make sure that you have a nice deep latch sometimes when you get a little further along in the breastfeeding journey tactics can get a little lax a good deep latch will keep those teeth out-of-the-way.
Sometimes biting can occur when babies are distracted so another technique is to use a nursing necklace or small toy to help keep them focused during nursing and to make sure you're taking care of your nipples teething mouth can be very acidic and combined with the biting I can take its toll. Sailing soaks and rinsing your breasts can be very helpful, good luck.
SUNNY GAULT: That wraps up our show for today. I know it was a longer one. Thanks so much for hanging in there with me.
Don’t forget to check out our sister shows:
- Preggie Pals for expecting parents
- Newbies for newly postpartum moms
- Parent Savers for moms and dads with toddlers and
- Twin Talks for parents with multiples.
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This has been a New Mommy Media production. The information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. While such information and materials are believed to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, medical advice or care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.
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