I’m a white woman. Because I am a white woman, I get to sit here in my place of Privilege and think to myself, “How will we ever undo racism if we keep dividing ourselves?” or even, “I don’t see why it has to be a separate week.”
But I don’t know what it’s like to be a black woman. I can pretend all day long that I understand racism, because maybe someone called me “whitey” or “honky” at some point in my life. The truth is though, while it has happened before, I can’t pinpoint the exact memory of it. Why? Because I have not felt actual racism. Someone looking down on me because I’m white from time to time is not the same thing as growing up in a country where my race is systematically viewed as less important.
If I posted a photo of myself breastfeeding and someone commented negatively on it, I could rattle off all the facts and figures and would automatically be presumed educated and correct and people will listen because, well, I’m a white woman rattling off facts.
The truth is, I don’t like that we keep dividing ourselves. I wish that the color of a person’s skin was a mere identifier… no different from the color of their eyes or the height of their stature. But we are not living in that perfect world of equality yet. As far as Black Breastfeeding Week goes, that point is clear:
- CDC data show that 75% of American white women have ever breastfed, while 58.9% of American black women ever have.
- According to the CDC, if there was an increase of breastfeeding among black women, the infant mortality rates of black babies would decrease by as much as 50%, creating a mortality rate that was more along the lines of that of white babies born in the United States.
Keep in mind, being raised to believe that racism is disgusting and abhorrent caused me to feel guilty for even writing “white baby” and “black baby.”
Keep in mind that being fully aware of my white privilege, I understand that I am walking along a steep slope. Who am I to say what black women need or don’t need? But, that’s exactly the point of writing this. I’m in no position to say what black women need and don’t need. Yet, black women have organized a Black Breastfeeding Week and the statistics seem to show that they are correct in feeling it is a need.
Still, earlier this week, I felt that I was not in a position to say anything on the matter.
Then, I saw this video:
What can I do, what can I say to do my part to support breastfeeding among all women in the US?
The video above explained my obligation and answered my question to myself:
“Kathleen knew that she walked through the world differently than I did. And she used her white privilege to educate and make right a situation that was wrong. That’s what you can do.”
If I so wish for the equality I feel is right… If I so feel that breastfeeding dramatically impacts the outcomes of health, IQ, and emotional bonding… I can use my position of privilege to support black women who are celebrating Black Breastfeeding Week.
That’s what I can do.
“Thursday, August 29 : Award-winning blogger and author, Denene Millner of MyBrownBaby.com (@mybrownbaby) leads a vibrant twitter chat for African American parents on #BlackLivesMatter. Guests include Dream Hampton (@dreamhampton) and Lamar Tyler of the award-winning BlackandMarriedWithKids.com (@blackandmarried) website.