New York, NY — This year’s annual Black Breastfeeding Week celebration, August 25-31st, will focus on the joys and triumphs of breastfeeding and the blissful feelings that occur when mothers, fathers and communities come together to support the optimal first food regardless of the many barriers that exist.
Breastfeeding may not always feel joyful when you consider the many structural and cultural barriers such as the lack of a federal paid maternity leave policy to give mothers ample time to establish their breastfeeding routine before returning to work or the “shaming” of mothers who nurse in public in a society that uses breasts to sell chicken wings and beer yet makes women uncomfortable for using their breasts for their natural purpose. But, the co-founders of Black Breastfeeding Week note, those barriers are exactly why breastfeeding successfully for whatever personal goal women set, is such a joy.
“There is immense joy from the feeling of empowerment and accomplishment you get from knowing that you overcame cultural barriers, unsupportive work environments, the insidious marketing of infant formula and perhaps little or no family support along the way,” says Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka, CNM, co-editor of Free to Breastfeed: Voices from Black Mothers (Praeclarus Press) and a BBW co-founder.
“Happiness is a form of resistance. It is a joy for black families to know that by breastfeeding they are helping to rewrite our cultural narrative and defying the stereotypes that say we don’t breastfeed and that we give our babies artificial, inferior food,” says Kimberly Seals Allers, a co-founder of Black Breastfeeding Week and director of the First Food Friendly Community Initiative (3FCI). “Changing black history is a true joy.”
Black Breastfeeding Week will also include the signature Baby Lift Up event–now in its second year. On August 27th at 3pm EST/Noon PST families across the country will gather again in predetermined locations to lift up their babies (of all ages!) in unison in a show of solidarity and support for black children living healthy and thriving lives. Last year, over a dozen cities participated in the National Baby Lift Up. This year, Medela, the U.S. breastpump leader, has signed on a National Lift Up sponsor, donating one Pump In Style® Advanced Backpack (MSRP: $299.99) to each Lift Up location up to 20 sites.
Other activities during the week will include online discussions, the annual Twitter party, Facebook and Instagram events and local activities. This years’ hashtags will be: #BlackBFJoy, #BlackJoy and #BBW16. Go to www.BlackBreastfeedingWeek.org and the BBW Facebook page (www.facebook.com/BlackBreastfeedingWeek) for more information and ongoing updates.
About Black Breastfeeding Week:
Founded in 2012 by three nationally recognized breastfeeding advocates, Black Breastfeeding Week is an annual, week-long multi-media campaign from August 25-31st to raise awareness of the health benefits and personal empowerment of breastfeeding in the black community. Despite the proven benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and babies, for over 40 years there has been a gaping disparity in breastfeeding rates between whites and blacks—the reasons are complex. However, increasing breastfeeding rates among black women is a critical health imperative in the black community. BBW is an empowerment week to increase awareness of the critical role of breastfeeding in improving maternal and child health outcomes and reducing infant mortality rates in the black community. The week is also dedicated to celebrating all of the ways black families support healthy and strong infants from supporting breastfeeding to early literacy and good nutrition. Learn more at www.BlackBreastfeedingWeek.org
Black Breastfeeding Week in the News (sampling):
About the Founders:
Kimberly Seals Allers is an award-winning journalist and a leading commentator, speaker and consultant on breastfeeding issues, with an expertise in African American women and racial disparities in breastfeeding. Kimberly’s is a respected thought leader in the field, presenting at Congressional hearings, for the National Medical Association and the First Lady’s Partnership for a Healthier America, among others. As a consultant, Kimberly develops internal audits and strategic messaging and communication initiatives with organizations to improve the programmatic outcomes of their infant health initiatives. She pioneered the concept of “first food deserts”—communities that severely lack the resources and sentiment for mothers to easily provide the optimal first food—breastmilk, and now serves as project director of The First Food Friendly Community Initiative (3FCI). A former writer at Fortune and senior editor at Essence magazine, Kimberly’s fifth book, The Big Let Down—How Medicine, Big Business and Feminism Undermine Breastfeeding will be published by St. Martin’s Press in January. She is also the founder of www.MochaManual.com, an award-winning parenting website for African Americans. A graduate of NYU and Columbia University, Kimberly is a divorced mother of two who lives in Long Island, NY with her children.
Kiddada Green is the founding executive director of Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association (BMBFA), co-founder of Black Breastfeeding Week, and lead consultant for the First Food Friendly Community Initiative. As an expert in community-centered approaches, she put forth recommendations for The U.S. Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. Ms. Green is also an esteemed member of the inaugural class of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Community Leadership Network Fellowship Program. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a Master’s Degree in the Art of Teaching from Oakland University. She is also a devoted wife, mother and educator.
Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka is a graduate of Yale University and Vassar College. She has been a nurse-midwife and innovative culture worker leveraging digital media to impact health and parenting. Clinically, she cares for women across the life span at an independent birth center. Anayah also writes, speaks and consults with organizations on using social media to deepen community building and leverage social change. Anayah is co-editor of Free to Breastfeed: Voices from Black Mothers (Praeclarus Press) and a Program Associate with MomsRising. Her work has been written about on Salon.com, HuffPost, Ms. Magazine , Mater mea, MyBrownBaby and ThinkProgess. She is a wife and mother to two curious and agile boys.
The Mocha Manual Company, Inc.