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Dear White Women: Beyonce is OUR Breastfeeding Moment. Please Step Aside.

Beyonce is a black woman. Her breastfeeding moment is our moment.

Dear white women,

I know the breastfeeding world is all abuzz over reports that Beyonce breastfed her beautifully brown Blue Ivy in public last week and that we consider this a victory for all nursing moms everywhere, but I need to claim this moment for African American women. And I need to ask you to step aside — or better yet — step behind us in support, while we relish this extremely significant time.

You see, as you may have heard, black women have had historically low breastfeeding initiation and duration rates for more than 40 years. And while we have made some solid gains in initiation, when it comes to the gold standard of infant nutrition — exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months – we have a lot of work to do. But when it comes to the power of celebrity breastfeeding role models, to normalize breastfeeding, add the lifestyle cache and make it trendy like has happened among white women, we have very few. The fabulous Laila Ali comes to mind. But not many others.

And certainly nowhere of the A-list nature of your breastfeeding celebrity roster which includes: Angelina Jolie (on the cover of W magazine, no less), Gisele Bundchen, Madonna, Gwen Stefani (take breath), Nicole Ritchie (debatable, I know) Jennifer Garner, Jenna Elfman, etc, etc,etc ..You do the math.

Beyonce is our Angelina Jolie. Our Gisele, Madonna and Gwen wrapped up into one fabulously black and married woman.

Meanwhile, with all the news reports about Beyonce, and all the breastfeeding “advocates” talking about its impact on the nursing world, not one advocate mentioned the particular significance to black women — which is so striking since many claim to be interested in our breastfeeding plight.

Shame on you.

Nor could I find any major press report that included the perspective of African American women or interviewed a black breastfeeding expert (I’m always available).

Did Beyonce turn white when she started breastfeeding?

Or are black women  invisible in the breastfeeding world except when to report the statistics of our lack of breastfeeding?

This is not going to work. And some of you white breastfeeding advocates, one of you, should have pointed that out.

If not for us then please for our babies. Black babies are still 2.4 times more likely to die before their first birthday and the CDC says increased breastfeeding among black women could reduce this needless disparity by as much as 50%.

Having Beyonce as our  black breastfeeding moment potentially means that more African American women will know that breastfeeding is mainstream and beautiful and actively practiced by the celebrities we admire. The celebrities from our community. It means that more black women, particularly young women,  may consider breastfeeding their babies–something our community urgently needs.

If therefore more black babies are breastfed then more black babies have a chance to have healthier lives–fewer respiratory infections and lower rates of asthma and childhood obesity–health problems that are running rampant in our children.

If that is indeed what is at stake,  if that is the possibility within having Beyonce as ours, then I am putting my heart and soul and power and passion and weight and girth and that of my ancestors (who likely wet nursed your ancestors) in asking you to help us declare this as our black breastfeeding moment.

Thank you.

Kimberly Seals Allers

p.s. Jennifer Garner just delivered a baby boy so you’ll be back in the media spotlight shortly.

 

About Kimberly: Kimberly Seals Allers is an award-winning journalist, author of  The Mocha Manual® series of books and a leading voice of the black motherhood experience. She is also a respected breastfeeding advocate. In 2011, she was named a IATP Food & Community Fellow (funded by the Kellogg Foundation) with a special mandate to increase awareness and address the barriers to access to the “first food”–breast milk–in vulnerable communities. Kimberly is a divorced mom of two who lives in Queens, New York.
Comments
108 Responses to “Dear White Women: Beyonce is OUR Breastfeeding Moment. Please Step Aside.”
  1. Joy says:

    Thanks for the reality check. Honestly. This is me stepping behind you in support. ps. Garner had a boy.

  2. *Standing and applauding* THANKS for a wonderful post. Love it!!!

  3. I agree. All nursing advocates should be supporting this as a black breastfeeding moment. They should be pointing out the statistics and talking about how wonderful of an example this is of and for the black community. As a white woman, I stand behind you and support this. Beatuifully written.

  4. Black mothers need to see ourselves reflected in celebrities.

  5. Lise says:

    Supporting AND Sharing with my audience…

  6. Thank you for giving me facts I never knew. I am so happy Beyond is breastfeeding and that you brought this issue to light.I live in. rural area, for some reason I haven’t heard many of the women choosing to breastfeed…regardless of race. Count me in as a strong supporter, I got your backs.

  7. I have four daughters and breastfed all of them. I am always advocating to black women to breastfeed their children, not only for the health and nutritional purposes but also for the bonding experience. I will continue to advocate in my corner of the world. Honestly, I thought more black women were breastfeeding, but I guess I was wrong. Even if you can’t physically feed because of work or other issues, get a pump and express the milk, at least the baby will get the breast milk.

    • Shalan says:

      In Ky, Passport, the state insurance for low income pregnant women and children, actually covers breast pump rentals. I know the idea of renting a pump may squick some out, but it’s better then nothing. My son spent a month in the nicu for being born preemie and was much too small in comparison to latch. Pumping made me feel like I was helping too during that difficult waiting period.

  8. shelley smith says:

    Loved this article…there should be a major campaign to encourage breastfeeding in our community and Beyonce would be a great spokesperson! It would be encouraging to the younger generation…thanks Kimberly!

    • Norie says:

      I agree, I am an african american woman and have (4) children (3) of whom were breastfed. I’m calling on the major campaign too!!

  9. TaNefer Lumukanda IBCLC says:

    As a Black Lactation Consultant, It is a huge victory to Know Beyonce is Breastfeeding. I’ve worked to promote, encourage and support Breastfeeding among Black women. Little black girls need to see mothers Breastfeeding. It’s the only way to normalize it. Celebrities Breastfeeding is phenomenol because girls idolize them, but they also need to see everyday women doing it too. I believe we have more to add to the roster like, Erykah Badu, Phaedra(RHOA), and the Mowry sister who recently had a baby. We need our Black celebrities to know that this is a cause were fighting for so that they may be more open about their Breastfeeding experience. Great Article!

  10. C Fisk says:

    Hi, Kimberly,
    Great article! and yes, a fabulous step in the right direction for African American Women. You wrote,
    “not one advocate mentioned the particular significance to black women–which is so striking since many claim to be interested in our breastfeeding plight.
    Shame on you.”

    I have to say that is a little bit unfair. It is double edged sword they (“white” lactivists) are balancing on; obviously they know the statistics surrounding breastfeeding in African American Women, but the other side of that sword is a little word called racism. With you calling these women out for NOT noting that Beyonce is in fact black, you effectively skewered them on that double edged sword. Any white lactivist commenting on this and bringing attention to the fact that Beyonce is a black woman, would be called racist, no two ways about it. it is a sad statement for sure, but it is still the truth :/
    Of course we support this as a black moment, and of course this is a major victory for African American women and their babies. But if truth be told, only another black woman could actually point that out. Which you have very eloquently done. There is no need to flog your fellow lactivists at the same time though.

    • Mocha Manual says:

      Thank you for your comment. But I’m not sure if mentioning the most obvious thing about Beyonce is racist. Did you find it racist of me to mention that Angelina, Gisele, et all are white. I certainly hope not. And using the fear of being called a racist sounds very cowardly if you ask me. I wrote this piece because it needed to be said and I’m passionate about the cause, and whether or not I am called a racist is the farthest from my mind…If you keep looking for excuses to NOT do the right thing, you will always find them. My point is this, it is one thing to say we are all concerned about black women behind closed doors or in our own circles, but when have an opportunity to have a national (dare we say international) audience and the focus of attention is actually a black woman and we don’t even mention it–that’s a blatant disregard. Also, you should know that USA Today writer Kim Painter did a very good story and mentioned the impact of black women–she wasn’t afraid that it would be racist to infer that Beyonce being a black woman might have some import to other black women…Blatantly obvious. It’s just sad that you can’t see that. I hope you can move past excuses and fear of what others will say to actually live according to the words you (we all) preach. Oh it is not a flogging to point out missteps. Just because we are in this together, that doesn’t mean that I don’t point out where you have gone wrong. How else do we move forward? If you are looking for a movement where nobody can speak freely, even if to criticize (with only good intentions), then the movement is doomed.

      • Courtney says:

        It’s wonderful that YOU wouldn’t see a white lactation advocate pointing out that Beyonce is black as being racist. But the fact is that if a white person does mention a person’s color they DO get attacked as racist, no matter how accurate or relevant the observation of color may be. I’ve been personally attacked for making the observation myself! So why put ourselves into the position of damned if we do damned if we don’t? It truly is wonderful that black women have Beyonce in this moment, but why turn it into a “Shame on you” moment when the “double-edged sword” is absolutely a reality. You can’t ignore that double edged sword, you can’t explain it away. You CAN continue to praise women like Beyonce and use effective role models like her to help challenge and change the statistics.

      • Thank you for this post. I really appreciate you taking the time to explain this. I live a life constantly trying to do the right thing by people, and I admit, I don’t always know what the right thing is. I’ve been shamed on my blog for using the word “black” to describe black people – I was told “We’re not all black, you know! Some of us are brown and caramel, etc!” Okay, but by that token, not all “white” people are actually white. We come in many shades too. So while I see one black mama saying it’s cool to say that Beyonce is a black woman, I’ll have another one tell me it’s all kinds of wrong. And I also know plenty of Haitians and immigrant Africans who absolutely HATE being referred to as “African American” so at this point I don’t know what I’m allowed to say without being called racist. I am a hardcore feminist and ALL that means for racial equality but sometimes we just don’t know how not to get in trouble. The best I can do is be aware of my whiteness and my total inability to understand what it’s like to be a woman of color. I hope that conveys something.

        And you’re right. This is the black community’s victory, and you need it.

        • T says:

          Just call them Americans we are the only country that labels people due to their race or color.. .call them as they are Americans.

          • J J says:

            I’m pretty sure the author of this piece is mad /precisely because/ no one notice that Beyonce is black and breastfeeding.

            Personally, I think everyone should have the opportunity and the motivation to at least try to breastfeed their children. I am able to be a stay at home mom and one of the cost benefits of my staying home was the savings we would create by breastfed both of my children thru their first year.

            Most women of color have to work outside of the home (something you can’t say when you’re a white woman because it sounds classist and racist to point out the obvious fact) and it is VERY hard to get a woman of ANY color to pump and stay with breastfeeding if they have to get back to work to help support their family. Not to mention most pumps suck, and they are pricey.

            And those that do attempt to breastfeed are bombarded (as are all women) with formula adverts, coupons, swag from the hospital and potential peer pressure to feed with formula. White women are also bombarded with the same messages, the same coupons, the same peer pressures.

            On a side note, I find it interesting that you list Nicole Richie as “white”. Do you also count Barack Obama as “white”? And why do we only get 2 shades here? White v Black… screw those who blur the line, marry another race, or god forbid are Hispanic. I guess the main goal is to sell advertisements and the more attention you get, the better. Cute “dear white women” letters are just the ticket Mocha Maiden. Great job!

      • Chrissy says:

        Interesting reading. However, viewing the comments made me want to claw my own eyes out. Wth is wrong with people? I’m pretty sure people who would be influenced by beyonce will still be influenced by her if nobody points out publicly she’s black. The whole thing makes them look like (I was going to say racist, but its more like) children who just noticed we’re not all the same color. ANYTIME someone chooses to breast feed we should all be happy. And am I only supposed to look up to famous white people??? Cause I’m a huge morgan freeman fan… http://m.youtube.com/index?desktop_uri=%2F&gl=US#/watch?v=I3cGfrExozQ

        STOP TALKING ABOUT IT!

    • Susan says:

      Have to agree here. I was super excited for the example to boost and foster positive breast feeding support for black women. I was hesitant to point that out because someone would have thrown the ‘punch’. This is fantastic but I choose to view it as another Mama feeding her baby. More support for WOMEN and babes, whatever shade they be.

    • Sarah says:

      I am a black women who was completely offended by this! I think Beyonce’s breast-feeding is great for all women, and I definitely see it’s significance to the black community. However I think it’s counterproductive to get angry at non-black women for not celebrating it as a black breast feeding moment. If we hope to close the gap of “white culture” and “black culture” we can’t continually make ourselves a different species. Should we also get upset at unattractive women for not claiming it as a victory for beautiful women or at all non singers for not claiming it as a victory for all singers? We are women. Reinforcing our differences only makes those barriers harder and stronger. Beyonce is black, yes, but she’s also a women, a mother, a wife, an American. If you feel the need to claim it as a victory for the black community, I think that’s fine, but don’t start cutting others down, especially people who are currently working toward the same goal as you.

      • ShanEda says:

        Thank you, Sarah!
        I think highlighting the challenges to black mothers breastfeeding is worthy, but find it totally unnecessary to shoot down others (no matter their colour) when what they are doing is supporting ALL breastfeeding mothers. Beyonce is a great role model for all women. As a public figure, she is a great champion of the cause, for all women, of all colours.

      • T says:

        I love you…lol I had to say it because that was the best written response and totally how I always feel we are women we are americas.

  11. I came to this post via The Mahogany Way Birth Cafe and am so grateful to have found it. As a white breastfeeding advocate, I did think about the power of Beyonce breastfeeding in terms of the breastfeeding statistics, however as someone who sometimes flounders and worries about speaking out of turn, I wasn’t sure how to approach that without being offensive to black women. Thank you for providing something I can share with my readers without potentially using my voice to talk over the voices that should be heard on this. <3

  12. Sam says:

    It’s not the most obvious thing about her. At least, not to everybody. Some people really don’t care what colour other people are, me included. I haven’t a clue where she is from or what her heritage is and it didn’t occurr to me that she is black. I just beamed because, look, there’s a mother doing something wonderful for her baby and society as a whole, and the impact is a hundredfold because she is a goregous pop star and idolised by thousands. WIN!!! It has now occurred to me that it also shows how far we’ve all come, that people don’t always bother to notice or remark on skin colour anymore. We are all just mothers. We are all just people. Time was, Beyonce wouldn’t have even been allowed to eat or wash her clothes in the same place as a white person, and now look…. The only difference most white people notice between themselves and Beyonce is that she’s a lot prettier/richer/better at singing than they are. I see that as another positive, but hey, shoot me for being a Glass Half Full person, or probably “whining racist” in your book.

    Now, I’m just off to write a new post for my blog entitled “DEAR BLACK WOMEN – stop whining that no one cares what colour you are” – Toodles!

    • Kori says:

      Absolutely loved this…the first thing I noticed about Beyonce, was that she was a mother breastfeeding in public. Something that isn’t even protected in the state I live in yet. Beyonce is a role model for all moms. Very well said Sam!!

    • Momma Jax says:

      I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH THIS POST! Color doesnt matter, not even one bit in my eyes and I wish it didn’t in others but thats people for you. We are all beautiful in our own way. When I heard this story I was ecstatic that Beyonce breastfed in public, not only a win for women, but mothers…breastfeeding mothers! A friend of mine that doesnt have children of her own was also very happy about this news when I told her and not one mention of her race. Lets move past color and become one human race, the world would be a much happier place! :)

  13. Crystal says:

    Who cares what color she is there is only one race and thats the human race.

  14. Audrey says:

    I appreciate the article… I am thankful that we have an african american celebrity normalzing public breastfeeding….and yes, shame on advocates who talked about this without mentioning the significance for Black women and babies. I too am annoyed at the all to common idea that breastfeeding is the purview of well off white women. But…I found the them and us tone a little unnecessary and limiting. I think we (as women who breastfeed and advocate for nursing mothers) are in “the game” whenever we support other women who create space for breasteeding and healthy parenting.
    Whose game are mixed race women in ? Or white women breastfeeding brown babies? Poor women (who are almost never represented in conversations about breastfeeding, Latino women, etc.

  15. Tesi J. says:

    Thank you for this post! As an African American mother who received much more support from my white friends than my black friends and family for choosing to breastfeed, I feel that this is indeed a huge victory for us. I feel that education is key because once I presented the facts about breastfeeding to my family, defending my decision, everyone tried to be more supportive. If these facts become well known and taught as a part of our nutritional education, then maybe our sisters can get some support and we can begin to tackle some of the many health problems within our community. Beyonce doing it in public shows us that it is indeed “normal” and if it helps to create a dialogue about the subject with those of us who may not have ever thought about breastfeeding before, then I’m all for that!

  16. While I applaud your efforts to highlight the statistics surrounding breastfeeding in the African-America culture for those who might be otherwise unaware (like me), I think this article could have been just as informative and no less powerful without the blatantly racist undertones. I mean, you have quite literally made this a black-and-white issue. A competition between white women and black women – especially with your overly snarky and completely unnecessary closing sentence about Jennifer Garner. And frankly, I feel like what is otherwise a very good message gets lost in that.

    • Mocha Manual says:

      Hi Kristin, Thanks so much for commenting. Unfortunately, racial disparities are a black and white issue. Racial disparities exist in breastfeeding rates, infant mortality, maternal mortality, breast cancer, etc…these are indisputable facts, ask the CDC. I did not create the racial disparity in breastfeeding rates or the racial disparity in infant mortality that the CDC says could be addressed by more black women breastfeeding… I’m not sure what is blatantly racist about highlighting a documented problem and a missed opportunity to possibly address it.

      • Your final sentence was blatantly racist. “We” (aka white women) will be “back in the game” shortly? Really??? Again, it’s not a competition. Thus, I maintain that your positive message gets lost in your negative undertones.

        Alas, it seems we will have to agree to disagree.

        • Mocha Manual says:

          Hey Kristin, I’m happy to agree to disagree, such is adult life and conversation, but I need to make sure you I’m clear on what you are disagreeable to. First, the “game” refers to the media game–not a competition. The piece was partly about the media and how they (and advocates) failed to connect the dots. There is always lots of media attention on celebrity moms and I’m sure new mom Jennifer Garner will be next up in the media game of celebrity buzz…I hope that clarifies that. Secondly, I need to sincerely ask you how you skipped over the statistics about black babies dying with no outcry, how you read past the paragraph where I basically beg for the support of white women, for the sake of our babies, in this matter, to purely focus on the P.S. and then claim racist undertones…I don’t know if you are a Bible person, but straining out the gnat and gulping down the camel certainly comes to mind. I asked white women to stand behind us in support–first paragraph. If you find that racist, then, yes, we will have to agree to disagree. ….and I appreciate the opportunity to dialogue with you. In the end, an open conversation is all I can hope for.

          • Thank you for clarifying your last statement. I still think it was unnecessary, but I appreciate your clarification all the same.

            And I in no way “skipped over” the part about black babies dying – and frankly am offended at your implication. I am truly sorry that racial disparities exist in breastfeeding,infant mortality, and maternal mortality and found this post very enlightening from that standpoint. However – and here I feel like I’m sidestepping landmines – I don’t believe that is the fault of the white community, which is essentially what you have implied here. Nor am I failing to support black women in their advocacy of improving breastfeeding rates and decreasing infant and maternal mortality rates. As I said, I found the post very informative and, as an advocate of breastfeeding in general regardless of race or color, am happy to spread your message. I’m simply suggesting that perhaps the best way to enlist the support of white breastfeeding advocates was not through a snark-filled rant that begins with, “Dear white women…” After all, I have to assume that if I began a post with, “Dear black women…” it would not go over well.

            Lastly, I have to agree with other commenters that if white women did draw attention to the fact that Beyonce is breastfeeding – even in a positive way – it would be considered “racist.” Whereas when we don’t, we are considered apathetic and unsupportive. It’s a no-win situation.

            Regardless, I appreciate your efforts to bring these racial disparities to light among the breastfeeding community, as well as the dialogue and conversation. And I wish you luck in your mission – you’re obviously very passionate about it.

          • Mocha Manual says:

            Just gotta ask you to please copy and paste the sentences where I said white people are responsible for racial disparities..I’ve written extensively about the complex issues of the disparities in bf–from slavery to the role of infant formula marketing…And any well-thought out post that starts with Dear black women is most surely welcome…I am a black woman so if you are talking to me and don’t know me personally that would be fine…and I would like to leave you with the words of a fellow white breastfeeding advocate, Fine and Fair, who aptly said today on the Mocha Manual FB page, “When black women talk about black issues, it is the job of white women to listen and learn, not to talk over them or argue about the validity of their points.”…Food for thought. All the best, ksa

          • Black Girl Says says:

            Mocha Manual, you sound like an idiot and a b**** and I agree with all the comments that disagree with you. If a white woman wrote an article like this, you would be livid. But black people think they can get away with saying things that they would want to kill a nonblack for saying. You are mad that white women are celebrating Beyonce breastfeeding when what you should really be upset about is that NOT ENOUGH black people are celebrating it. How truly ignorant. People like you make me ashamed to be black. “Stop labeling me as black, label me as black, celebrate me, don’t celebrate me,” etc. Just make up your effing mind already. Black people are the biggest ones keeping racism and racial bias alive today.

      • truthspeaks says:

        Kimberly, If you wanted to highlight it then you should have done so in a graceful way and celebrated. But the way you have presented your case is really offensive. Its not ok to exclude any race. Perhaps why no one has highlighted the fact that this is a “black woman” is because more people just look at people as people, not as exclusive races. No issue at all with you highlighting that this is good for your culture, but major problem with you demanding this be “Your moment” and for us whites to step off, we have our own. Thats really arrogant. Please learn to write with respect.

  17. Kirsten says:

    A white woman drawing attention to Beyonce being a black breastfeeding mom would be labelled as racist.
    A while woman NOT drawing attention to Beyonce being a black breastfeeding mom is labelled as not caring about the breastfeeding plight of black people.
    Seems to me that we’re damned if we do, and we’re damned if we don’t.
    I’m pretty sure VERY few people, if any, thought of Angelina Jolie and said, “Ooh! A white breastfeeding mom!”
    It saddens me to think that no matter how far we think we’ve come, race still comes into everything – even something as universally human as breastfeeding.

    • Mocha Manual says:

      Hmmm, not sure if mentioning that Beyonce was black makes it racist. Racial disparities in breastfeeding, infant mortality and maternal mortality are well documented…I would love to live in a world where race does not affect my babies chance at making it to their first birthday, or my greater likelihood to die during childbirth or develop a more aggressive breast cancer…but this is the reality. Thanks so much for joining the conversation…

  18. Mary says:

    Change in the outside world begins with internal change. For years I accused men of being the oppressors of women and counted all the ways they perpetuate the denigration of women. I was so angry. Then one day I was brave enough to look inside and see (and grieve for) all the ways I, as a woman, did not value the feminine and myself as a woman. I came to understand that no man can make me less than. I can only do that to myself. I have, and continue to learn to embrace and celebrate my femininity and womanhood. Pointing the finger outside of ourselves creates anger and hatred. We as women need to stand together, all colors, and begin to undo the many ways we have learned to be shameful of our innate femininity. Breastfeeding is natural. Women are designed to breastfeed. Our children need us. But how many of us were taught otherwise? How many of us hide our tampons at the bottom of our grocery carts out of shame? If men had periods they would probably be boasting about how much they bled each month! But we are filled with shame and uncertainty about things that should be so natural to us. Women are incredibly powerful with a connection to nature and life runs deep. It is time we step into our power, together and weed out the discourses that serve to divide us.
    Wishing all my Sisters of all colors the love and the strength to stand in your truth…

  19. I think it’s sad to look to celebrities for inspiration to breastfeed. But, if that’s what it takes to make people realize the importance of nursing, then I’m all for it. I exclusively nursed for the first 6 months of my daughter’s life. Now Princess is a year and a half and I am still breastfeeding. I never really looked at the color aspect. But, it is sad to hear that rate of black women nursing in comparison to white women. I think every woman should research and gain an understanding about the importance of nursing. Maybe she may go that route, or maybe not. It’s a personal choice. Maybe Beeyonce and other black celebrities will start a compain.

  20. revlaurelj says:

    I was amazed at the negative responses I received from family members while breastfeeding my firstborn last year. However, I pressed through and I believe my son is healthier because of it. You are right. Black women have been breastfeeding since the beginning of time. Why is this all of a sudden a shocking thing?

  21. Liberty says:

    Man, fellow white people, way to miss the point! You come away from this wonderful article and are bothered enough to say “I don’t like the tone”? Its not racist to recognize that Beyonce is black. She is. She’s black. She knows it. I know it. We all know it. It is not racist to say she’s black. You’re right- people might jump on people for mentioning that she is, but the people who would chastise other for doing so? They’re the wrong ones. Don’t use them as your reference point.

    While I don’t feel completely comfortable discussing black women’s issues, seeing as I’m not black, I was deeply disturbed by the amount of tone policing I saw in response to this article. Tone policing is a key tactic when trying to suppress the thoughts and opinions of minorities or oppressed groups. To tell someone not to be angry, when they have a clear right to, is not nice.

    Just my two cents.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only white person here who wanted to school practically every other white commenter on the tone argument. :x

      • Mocha Manual says:

        Thank you fine and fair, and I have reposted on FB and now here too, your powerful and eye-opening words on the Mocha Manual FB page today. “When black women talk about black issues, it is the job of white women to listen and learn, not to talk over them or argue about the validity of their points.” Thank you. Thank you. Amen and Amen. and I hope you don’t mind if I get that laminated and pocket-sized so I may carry it with to my next meeting…:-)

        • DG says:

          “When black women talk about black issues, it is the job of white women to listen and learn, not to talk over them or argue about the validity of their points.”

          >>> Unless of course, you start the entry with “Dear White Women…”

  22. Great article! I agree that most people have no idea how big a deal this is for people who have been looking for an African American heroine. And I really understand the sentiment behind this post. This is going to sound like a silly comparison, but it’s kind of how I feel as an Asian American about the whole “Lin-sanity” story.

    I did want to point out my post the day the story broke – it quoted a podcast interview I did with Kathi Barber a few years ago on African American moms and breastfeeding and the significance of a mega-star like Beyonce emerging as a role model: http://breastfeeding.blog.motherwear.com/2012/03/beyonce-breastfeeds-in-public-1.html

    And then another site picked it up and quoted Kathi extensively (hard to tell from the title, but read on): http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/307629/20120301/beyonce-breastfeeding-public-icon-mothers.htm

    In any case, I just want to say that – to the extent I can – I get it. :)

  23. Mama Power says:

    Kimberly,
    Thank you for a power-full read. I breastfed all three of my children, exclusively for six months and beyond. I was a breastfeeding mother because my mother was a breastfeeding mother because her mother was a breastfeeding mother. I began my mommyhood as a young, unmarried mother of 20- a statistic. Just like the statistics which state “Breastfeeding rates among African-American women lag behind all other ethnic groups. National data show that only 45% of African-American women reported ever breastfeeding compared to 66 and 68% of Hispanic and white women, respectively. Of African-American women who do choose to breastfeed, duration is short, with many discontinuing in the first days after birth. Through a case study of a sample of low income, African-American women living in Baltimore, MD, where breastfeeding role models are few…”
    Always, I encourage all women within the sphere of my influence to breastfeed. However, I am no Beyonce. If one way of improving maternal and infant health outcomes for African American women and their babies is by having a breastfeeding role model, AND that role model is Beyonce, then can we please get our Babylicious on and stop with the rheotric. In this country race matters and it always has. Race has been at the core of legislation and policy which has denied access, limited resources and trampled all over civil rights and human dignity. To not include it in a discussion which directly impacts lives is not smart. Never an easy conversation but usually a necessary one. If we need reminders that racism is alive, well and kicking, we need only look at the unprecedented level of blatant disrespect President Obama has received and, by extension, Mrs. Obama; “large posterior”, indeed. The sisterhood of motherhood, in a collective group of mama advocacy, would do well to turn its indignation towards and scorn towards those in power who are content with the laughable education system, flawed health care system, abysmal environmental policy. Come on, ya’ll, we got bigger fish to fry. Really.

  24. Kristin S. says:

    Dear Kimberly,
    Bravo in your support for breastfeeding women everywhere! However, I think that it’s much more important for us to band together as women to support breastfeeding than it is for white women to get behind black women because Beyonce is black. She is a beautiful breastfeeding woman. Period. Celebrate that she is a role model for the black breastfeeding community. But please don’t exclude us or tell us to get behind you. Ask us to stand beside you in solidarity. I’d much rather stand hand in hand with them then separate us by color. Aren’t we going backward in that way?
    Good for you for bringing up some solid points of reference. Thank you for your post.

  25. Lara says:

    Can we add our First Lady, Michelle Obama to the list of black women who are breastfeeding advocates? She is working to make a difference in the lives of babies and mothers alike.

  26. Danielle says:

    This is why race and racism will never stop. It should not be a about a black moment for white women to stand behind and support. It is about empowering women period. There are so many young women afraid or ashamed to breastfeed and they are of all races. Beyonce appeals to the young mother and this is a moment for mothers of all races to embrace. No one should have to make a point about the fact that Beyonce is black because its obvious that she sure ain’t white. And the comment p.s. Jennifer Garner just delivered a baby boy so you’ll be back in the game shortly is completely childish too me. I feel that the true message of this article gets lost in this black white competition. If black people aren’t in competition with each other its a competition with another race and it does not help us progress as a people.

  27. Jennifer says:

    I appreciate the breastfeeding plights of the African American community as you described in your article. It is something I was truly unaware of. Thank you for reminding others of these terrible statistics so that we may rally together to support one another. That is the way it should be.

    With these things being said, I do feel that it is a bit of a double-edged sword. Yes, we can all see that Beyonce is Black, but what does her color have to do with anything necessarily? I understand that breastfeeding rates are lower within the African American community, but why can’t you also look to Gisele or Angelina to be your breastfeeding advocates? Because their white? Does this essentially mean that black women can’t have white role models and vice versa? Please don’t take this as criticizing, because I don’t intend it to be. I’m simply asking for the sake of grasping a firmer understanding. I have black people in my family as well as asian people and I’m white. Not once have I ever looked at someone’s color and determined whether that should affect my way of thinking about a certain issue. If there were no white women breastfeeding and the only role models I had were black and asian women, you better believe I would still be jumping on the bandwagon with them and following in their footsteps.

    It just seems to me that no matter what I or anyone of my color does, we will always be criticized for not doing more or for holding other races back/down. Society has come a LONG way since the days of slavery and separatism. We’re all better than this. Let’s stop making it a race issue and start looking at the bigger picture. We need to educate and advocate for ALL people regardless of race. I support your intentions, I really do. But there’s a fine line between asking for help/support and slamming other races.

    PS-I shared this article with my cousins (some of who are black and some who are asian) and they agreed, so again, I’m not trying to downgrade your message. I’d hate to be bashed by some of the other commenters on here as “another white commentator who’s trying to argue and suppress your thoughts and beliefs.” I wish you the best and I hope that this article and others like it can be used to further propel the education and advocation of breastfeeding to unprecedented highs within all communities.

  28. Mary P says:

    I nursed all three of my children, including a set of twins, for at least 18 months. I truly makes my heart sing when I see any mom but especially a mom of color breastfeed her baby. It was a lot of work and the logistics sometimes got tricky. like how exactly do you feed two babies, live you life, and not feel like a cow? When I had to travel to Tennessee from California for a funeral while my then 6 month olds were in the thick of nursing still. Carrying a breast pump through an airport and onto a plane, finding clean, quiet places to pump and then having to explain what the multitude of plastic bags with frozen/semi-frozen white substance were a thousand times to TSA security personnel. My three babies grew like little weeds, had not colic or other digestive issues, and didn’t have a single cold or ear infection until several months after we stopped breastfeeding. I think that is in no small part to the breastfeeding.

    Sistahs, if you or your baby need help breastfeeding, please reach out to your OB, your pediatrician or La Leche or other group. Breastfeeding has its trials but the benefits and joys far outweigh any inconveniences. It is so worth it in the end.

  29. Lori says:

    I completely agree with Jennifer. Maybe instead of saying black women have no role models we should find out the real cause. I am sure that no role model is not the only thing holding black women back. Maybe its the lack of knowledge, or support. What ever the cause “we as a people” should look into it. In a perfect world we would all be walking around with babies on our boobs! That’s what our goal should be. Not to point out that someone is black. If you want racism to stop it needs to start with you. The article could have been written in a more effective manor.

  30. Meg says:

    I shared a couple stories about this on my Facebook page b/c she IS black & she is who she is. I did not, however, point that out in my comments b/c I thought it was obvious. And my black friends, not all African Americans, noticed & liked it as well as white friends. I felt as though it was powerful & should be shared. I also shared an article from Ebony about breastfeeding amongst black women & stated that thanks to women like Beyonce & Michelle Obama, who was advocating for breastfeeding, this will hopefully improve. So maybe the little advocates, who wish to be a lactation consultant 1 day, are trying to do this things & recognize the leaders in your race about this that I am so passionate about. :)

  31. Regina O. says:

    I literally collapsed with tears of joy when I heard on blog radio that B. Knowles was spotted bfdg her first fruit. You see I was posting on her, her sisters and a destiny’s child members fb page months ago, offering black and breastfeeding facts, suggesting a IBCLC as the perfect gift to the family, reminding them of the profound impact the expectant mom would have on her fans if they knew she were a mocha mama too. The truth is, if women weren’t bfdg in the 20th century, we wouldn’t be doing so now, However, the cultures “tone” has shifted once again, and that’s because one woman influences another woman. So if I dont know who Jen Garner is, If i never watched an Angelina movie, if a white women never influence me b/c I just dont know of any, and we dont share the same icons, the same cousins, sisters, mothers and friend whom bfdg, than its the furthest thing from my mind. Black women are missing out on this milestone at this very moment, b/c we as bfdg advocates are busy building barriers that already existed. I hope we can all move on in love, make this BLACK goddess visible if not on t., than through social media for all women to see, b/c whats so beautiful about her is that she is universal, and we still have a long ways to go in mainstream media to glorify a mahogany shaded, thick haired african american breastfeeding woman ( do you know her?) its not about use, its about the poor girls (of any race) that still doesn’t know her own infinite beauty and ability to mother in the fullest capacity.

  32. Rina says:

    I am not impressed with this article. In fact, it upsets me because I am of the same human race as Beyonce. As a La Leche League Leader, I am proud of her for being a breastfeeding mommy, not a black mommy who breastfeeds. I support any and all moms who breastfeed. Breastfeeding is not about color, it’s about feeding babies. We’re all on the same side here.

  33. Ann says:

    *clapping*
    Actually, I think the Motherwear Blog did interview an african american breastfeeding advocate about that who said “it would be great if Beyonce had a baby and breastfed” and lo, there she did! http://breastfeeding.blog.motherwear.com/2012/03/beyonce-breastfeeds-in-public-1.html

    The BEST thing about Beyonce besides that she’s african American and nursing, is that she nursed at a cafe. In public. And I”m standing behind you in support of that for us ALL, white, black, asian and other.

  34. Amanda says:

    Dear Author, as women we should all stand together in support of each other regardless of race. It is still hard for the white,black,hispanic, indian,chinese, and every other kind and color of women to nurse publicly without being criticized. It is not 1955. Let’s keep the race barriers down for this one.

  35. Sarah says:

    As supporter of breastfeeding in general, and a member of the human race, I must tell you that I had no idea of the plight of breastfeeding as it relates specifically to women of color – specifically in this discussion, black women. So the article is extremely informative in this respect. However, as a white woman, and an admittedly uniformed one on the issue at hand, I also must admit that the article puts me on edge because of the tone and the constant reference to my skin color (and sex). Saying I shouldn’t argue the validity of the points simply because they come from a black woman talking about a black issue is also such a disparaging statement. Suggesting that “white women” are at fault for not mentioning the significance of a black celebrity breastfeeding in public is just as horrible as any other blanket statement. And I’m guessing you’re going to argue you didn’t blame us all, but the article begins with “Dear White Women,” and goes on to say “Shame on you.” But white women only didn’t write the articles or leave out the valid points – so why then is it just white women who are to blame? You are blanketing all white women AND all black women. Suggesting that black women need a black celebrity role model ONLY to affect their decision to breastfeed, or that only whites look up to the white celebrity breastfeeders only is downright absurd, and frankly, it is racist. But I guess I should just shut up and listen and accept my blame. Since I’m white. And I’m a woman. Why is your article not addressed to all breastfeeding advocates, or the world, or the press? Just that opening comment could have completely changed my feelings about what you were saying, but because I am one of the white women this article is addressed to, I just could not get past that. I will grant you your victory, but just as you want the right to say when you have been singled out for the wrong reasons, so too will I exercise that right.

  36. Sarah says:

    http://healthland.time.com/2012/03/05/how-beyonces-public-breast-feeding-changes-the-nursing-in-public-debate/

    Written by a “white woman” – at least as far as I could tell from her photo – major press report (Time), mentions the “particular significance to black women”, and interviews Elita of Blacktating.

  37. dianthe says:

    *sigh* i wanted to love this article – i truly did – but i just can’t

    as a half black/half Mexican mom who has been breastfeeding for 4 years straight (my 1st for 3 years, currently nursing my 2nd who just turned 2 and i tandem nursed them for a full year), i understand the emotions behind the topic of Beyonce breastfeeding – my heart filled with pride when i heard Beyonce was nursing and i too hoped that thousands of MINORITY women would see Beyonce and think twice before heading straight to Formula Land – but that being said, i think that asking white women to “step aside or better yet, step behind us” is detrimental

    the truth of the matter is that i see very few celebrities breastfeeding period. and i’m a celebrity junkie, so i know celebrities – i’m thrilled when anyone who is high profile sings the breastfeeding praises because it contributes to the normalcy of breastfeeding our babies

    i’m also a little concerned that Laila Ali is the only mom of color that came to your mind when there have been several others – most recently Tia Mowrey of The Game. But also Ananda Lewis, Mariah Carey, Christina Milian, Phaedra Parks and Kimora Lee Simmons – and those were the ones i could think of without Google!

    And as far as the major press not including the African American perspective – well, i don’t know what you consider “major”, but Elita Kalma of Blacktating.com has been quoted in several articles over the last few weeks in regards to Beyonce and breastfeeding – including USA Today and Essence.

    again, i understand where you were going with your post – i just think your message would be better received if it weren’t so divisive

  38. Monica says:

    How about we all stand side by side AND point out the statistics? We need to unite as a community with no division between white, African American, Mexican, Asian…we are all humans and all our babies need their mother’s milk.

  39. Tara says:

    This white mama is stepping aside and behind you fir support on this topic! Great article and great points.

  40. Christy says:

    I’m a white, lesbian woman who breastfed her children and who writes articles that piss people off. I wanted to say thank you for this fabulous piece on a very important issue. Also, I wish people who are not in the group in question (black in this situation or gay in mine) would try to remember that they can’t possibly know what they don’t know. Humility would save a great many otherwise lovely people from sounding like terrible asses.

  41. geekbabe says:

    A young, very talented, beautiful woman has decided to give her baby the very best start possible by breast feeding. This young woman also serves as a role model to millions of young girls & women.

    Seems like a win… for everyone, regardless of their racial makeup

  42. Lucia says:

    Wow. I’m really disappointed in this article. When I found out Beyonce was breastfeeding Blue I was SO happy because here was an African American celebrity breastfeeding for the world to see. What an inspiration to women of color to to have their own “breastfeeding hero”, a Star that through her own mothering will hopefully inspire other mothers to do the same for their babies. Yay, someone breastfeeding now (Michelle Obama also breastfed her daughters) and a really popular R&B artist (Erykah Badu is also a lactivist and public breastfeeder) for women to look up to. Shame on ME? Seriously? You forgot to note that no one else talks about Jennifer Garner as inspiration for white women everywhere or Salma Hayek as an inspiration for latina women everywhere. The thing is, lactivists who are blogging are keeping race neutral. No one is saying this group or that group can or cannot breastfeed because they don’t have a celebrity role model. I’m a WIC Peer counselor in Massachusetts and in my office and around the state we have wonderful breastfeeding rates, esp in minority populations. 81% of women initiate breastfeeding, among black women 84% breastfeed. In my state, it’s the white women who aren’t breastfeeding. Maybe they’re just not Gisele fans, maybe that white woman sitting in my office is a Beyonce fan and maybe she’d be willing to try it now because if Beyonce can do it she can too. Really, a positive blog about how inspirational it is to see her breastfeeding and the effect we all hope it has on breastfeeding rates for African American women would have been so much nicer to read and much less alienating to those of us who are working towards the goal of more mothers and babies breastfeeding and better rates especially among minority families.

  43. Janie says:

    If I had pointed out that a black woman was breastfeeding, not just a woman, I would have been crucified and called a racist. Who gives a flying duck what color she is? She’s a woman. She is breastfeeding, and fiorthe record, elita from Blacktating beat you to it.

  44. nancee says:

    Good piece. As a NICU-Mother/Baby nurse & breastfeeding advocate, I appreciate the statistics being put out there whenever possible. I’m glad to step aside/ stand behind you to celebrate. I know how important role models are & celebrities fill that role often.

    AND, I’m not a big fan of being shamed. Just a personal thing with me.

    Glad The Feminist Breeder posted this. You’re a great resource. Thanks.

  45. Sarah Alessis says:

    I love this post. I am a caucasian woman that has breast feed 3 amazing kids and am married to an urban legend in our area…he breast feed until he was five growing up in Sicily. Any woman should be encouraged to give her children the next best gist after life and every community should encourage their own.

  46. Gmommius says:

    I am a white grandmom who nursed (and tandem nursed) her 3 daughters. I have much to thank black mothers for. I didn’t learn to nurse, wear my baby on my hip, or to co-sleep, from white role models- but from beautiful pictures of black mothers. SO… this is me stepping behind to thank you and to support you!

  47. DB says:

    I happened upon this post because I subscribed to the new Interest feeds on Facebook. In this case “parenting” was my interest and this article popped up. So this is my first introduction to your website. I’m past the breastfeeding stage with my own child and don’t plan to have any more so, otherwise, I would have passed on this article. However, the title caught my eye so I read it.

    I’m sorry that the breastfeeding rates are so low among Black women. That’s quite unfortunate but that’s not my fault or the fault of any White woman or any other woman. Beyonce breastfeeds…FANTASTIC! This is the first I’ve heard of it and, frankly, it’s not on my list of top priority issues to think about, regardless of what race she is. I don’t see anyone, including White women, trying to steal the thunder of Black women over this issue so to ask White women to step aside or behind you because you’ve now got your breastfeeding champion is just a little, errrr LOT, over the top. Besides, the last time I checked we were all a part of the human race and, as women, we should always rally for each other – regardless of race, creed or color. It’s unfortunate. This was probably a really good article with a lot of useful information but the only thing that stuck with me was the condescending nature of it and I can’t say that I have any further interest in frequenting this blog.

  48. Nia Fe says:

    Beyonce is pretty mainstream. She has a worldwide appeal, so her breastfeeding does appeal to a wide audience, including but not limited to black women.

  49. Marcia Bolivar says:

    Well said mama….a latina mama who nursed both of her boys and supports all other mamas to do it if you can

  50. Kris says:

    I never looked to Angelina Jolie, Madonna, or Gwen Stefani as any role models of mine. Bf was a personal choice for me, I’ve been more influenced by other bf mamas and LC s. would someone actually choose to bf because a celebrity does? Or because it is in fashion or trendy? I just don’t respect that.

    What harm is there in white women celebrating Beyonce bf?

    You are choosing to perpetuate racial categories when there’s opportunity for collaboration and unity. You claiming another person as “yours,” and emphasize racial identities, promoting divisiveness and the sense of the white women as “the other.” When, in reality race does not exist and exists only as a cultural construct.

    This is nothing short of reverse racism. If the article were written by a white woman telling black women to step aside…or a Hispanic woman, or any other woman of color, it would be called out as racist. And it is racist that you assume I look up to only white bf celebrities.

    It needs to be called out – Reverse racisim exists, it’s very real, I have seen people abused by it. Being of color does not give someone a free pass to be racist. Unfortunately, you have clearly drawn the race boundary in your mind, you strongly identify with it and are blind to any other points of view as evident in your insensitive responses to people who were offended by this post.

    Why can’t you make your point without excluding white women? Why couldn’t white women be proud of Beyonce too, just as they were proud we finally voted our first black president into office a few years ago? Why this divisiveness, this fierce territorial mentality?

    That black women have lower bf rates IS NOT the fault of white women, so I hope that’s not where you are going with this.

    Lighten up Kimberly.

    • Monica says:

      Beautifully said! I agree 100%.

      • vicki says:

        “Reverse Racism” is not real. racism is a form of systematic oppression that is sanctioned by the state that privileges white people over people of color. it is taught via every avenue of society and presented as the status quo or truth. people of color cannot be racist against white people because they are not entitled to the same privileges as white people due to the color of their skin. all people are capable of prejudice and that is a more accurate word for what you are trying to describe. i am a white woman who wishes all white women, especially those in the birth and breastfeeding communities, would educate themselves in how to be anti-racist allies to people of color. your signing off of “lighten up kimberly” is downright deplorable and really illustrates how unconscious you are about this issue.

  51. Kristina says:

    Yep, this isn’t about color at all! Hell, I’m black and breastfeed, so why doesn’t she applaud me? I guess I have to be a celebrity in order to get some recognition from her. There are tons of black women breastfeeding each and everyday, but it takes Beyonce to come out and get some hype for it. Nonsense. And plus, her book doesn’t even give decent lip service to breastfeeding know-hows at all!

  52. Krysta says:

    My response has nothing to do with black or white etc… just something I read, in a magazine which may or may not be true, looking to see if anyone can clarify. I’d read that Beyonce went on some super duper diet/possibly cleanse type thing to drop the baby weight fast… I actually read that and ASSumed she was NOT nursing, since that type of diet usually isn’t good if you are nursing. Does anyone know if this is true, or maybe she lost the weight quicker from nursing, and whatever magazine it was didn’t know that or want to point it out?

  53. Jeanie says:

    Kimberly I love that you want to educate people about low breastfeeding rates amongst black women, however I feel that you could have done that without the rude remarks poked towards white women. Please follow me here:
    First you ask white women to “I need to ask you to step aside or better yet, “step behind us in support, while we relish this extremely significant time”
    Then you want to make rude remarks toward white women: 1)”not one advocate mentioned the particular significance to black women–which is so striking since many claim to be interested in our breastfeeding plight.” I can say I am very much interested in improving the plight of all breastfeeding women of the human race 2)”Shame on you.” Really, what did I do to deserve this statement? 3) “Or are black women invisible in the breastfeeding world except when to report the statistics of our lack of breastfeeding?” if I am a breastfeeding advocate standing up for the entire human race and their right to nurse their children, then by what factual basis am I excluding black women? 4) “And some of you white breastfeeding advocates, one of you, should have pointed that out” so am I being criticized because I am a white breastfeeding advocate working day and night to protect all nursing moms regardless of race which my recent progress does exactly that? so rather than telling white women advocates how proud of us you are that we are managing to make major strides in further protecting all nursing moms you are going to try and knock me down and say that my work is somehow not adequate enough because I am not highlighting individual races and rather working for all races? 5) “having Beyonce as ours, …p.s. Jennifer Garner just delivered a baby boy so you’ll be back in the media spotlight shortly” I would like to say that as a breastfeeding advocate I could stand up as a voice of all nursing women as I am meeting with legislators getting laws passed and I would hate for someone to say that I belong to a certain sect of breastfeeding women, no one sect owns me and that infriges upon my women’s rights that I stand strongly for. The fact that a woman can write about another woman being owned by a certain sect as being “ours” in a society who have tried to control women, degrade women, and make women a thing of ownership is appalling.

    I think your article could have easily pointed out the low breastfeeding rates among black women without poking rude remarks toward white women, if you would have made better word choices.

    • clare says:

      i agree completely with this comment, yes it is great that a role model for ALL women is breastfeeding her baby and is proud of it.

      I however am embarrassed and dissapointed that such a nice moment was ruined by offending all caucasian women.

      Beyonce could be PURPLE, GREEN or PINK, it does not matter!!!!

  54. Kimber says:

    I think this is amazing for black women! Great article! It’s sad when black women don’t see how this can influence other black mothers positively!

  55. Eveline says:

    I couldn’t care less if Beyonce is black or white or whatever. All I see is a celebrity being a great rolemodel. For every bf-ing mom.

  56. Courtney says:

    As much as you make a valid point about african american breastfeeding mums, the fact of the matter is it should not be a racist issue. In some ways you have been racist yourself and it makes me sad to see. This is a moment for ALL breastfeeding mothers; stop making it about one denomination.

  57. QR says:

    So when a white celebrity nurses in public, BLACK women should step aside? What about a hispanic celebrity – should everyone else that’s a different colour step aside? How about multiracial people – should they stand last in line?

    Come on, now. I agree that what she is doing is INCREDIBLE for the black community and culture, and that it IS such an important thing!!! But why can’t we be equally happy? I am white and I think this is great for BLACK women (and fathers!), and ALSO for ALL BREASTFEEDING MOTHERS, regardless of colour. It is BOTH, and even though I do believe the fact that it’s incredible for the black community makes it in some ways a bigger thing – why should I have to step aside because of the colour of MY skin?

    Shouldn’t the fact that I, a white woman, am ECSTATIC over a black celebrity nursing in public and the AMAZING impact that will have on the black community, shouldn’t that let me stand right next to you?

    If not, then perhaps you should stand behind me the next time a white celebrity breastfeeds in public. Oh, wait. You would call that racist. Okay, you can still stand beside me. I would find it ridiculous and disheartening if you didn’t. Too bad the feeling isn’t mutual.

  58. Dawn says:

    How dis-heartening. We want to celebrate a women making the choice to breast feed. A choice to use her high profile celebrity as an example for mothers everywhere, and race becomes part of the picture. Doesn’t trying to segregate us take us backwards in society and not forward? Doesn’t it totally work against what so many brave black men and women fought and died for in this country? Did you really suggest we stand behind you in support instead of right beside you showing that all people regardless of color are equal and should be treated with love, compassion, respect and self worth? I can only hope that your opinion is not that of Beyonce and other beautiful, intelligent powerful black women in this world. You are a powerful women, to whom has been given a huge responsibility to set an example for young black girls and women everywhere. Please do not lead then backward instead of forward. Why can’t we say ” Look at this strong, powerful, women setting an example for women everywhere?

  59. Dawn says:

    Are posts randomly selected or are ALL posts shared? Is the information posted or is it censored?

  60. Karen Greene says:

    I’m surprised at all the negative comments. As a black female OBGYN who breastfed both of her boys in public, I felt this was appropriate and needed to be said. Facts are facts. Black women don’t breastfeed despite the advantages long term for their children. We need more role models like Beyonce so the yournger generation won”t have the same stigma and pressure not to nurse.

  61. Samecia-Muriel Broussard says:

    Hey Ms. Kim,

    I heard you on Tom Joyner this morn (3/12) and you and Ms. Lee were awesome. Keep on speaking the truth! If people aren’t hating on you, then they aren’t thinking about you and if they aren’t thinking about you, then you aren’t relevant. I breastfed both my girls a little past 1 year. I worked outside of the house (educator), but Praise God I had a very supportive husband AND once I educated my family (especially the old heads) they were supportive too. My children are now vibrant, strong, healthy, and smarter than the average bears.

    Love ya, girlie. Keep doing your thing for the Black Woman. Someone has to speak for us!

  62. Lara says:

    It could be patronizing, not racist for a bunch of White “lactivists” to start clamoring en masse about what a huge moment Beyonce’s public nursing was for Black women and children. I don’t think that White “lactivists” are the best or most effective messengers for that message.

    I appreciated the article- interesting read, and I’ve read through a good number of comments. I was vaguely dissatisfied with the overall tone of your post- I don’t think that White “lactivists” are trying to appropriate Beyonce away from the Black community- do you honestly think so?

  63. Jennifer Berry, AAHCC says:

    As a natural childbirth educator in Alabama, it is vital that I be aware of the particular struggles facing all of my clients, not just the ones who are exactly like me. So, while the mother and human in me wanted to say “it doesn’t matter what color Beyonce’s skin is, it matters that she made a wonderful choice for her baby that is by no means a simple or obvious one for every woman”, the educator in me says simply, “thank you”. Any article that can help me treat other mothers with more sensitivity, anything that gives me greater insight into what they might be going through, is a blessing. Because the fact remains that while I could add a number of outspoken white celebrities to your list, the last black celebrity I can recall talking about breastfeeding or being very public about their choice is Jada Pinkett-Smith back when she was doing press for the second Matrix movies! I will be a better, more compassionate, more USEFUL teacher to my next black students for having read your article and interviews on this topic. Thanks again!

  64. Crystal Pena says:

    As a white woman I am offended by what you have written here. I rarely ever comment on things I read online but felt compelled to this time. I feel as though your frustration may be misdirected, or at least would make more sense to me if this was directed towards specific media outlets, or organizations etc. Instead you write to “white women” which is quite a large group of individuals! Are there specific things you would like to see from specific individuals? Maybe you speak to that?

    You say white women should “step aside”, are white women interferring in some way? When I see images of Beyonce breastfeeding I see a woman feeding her baby in a normal beautiful way, her color is unremarkable to me. I would not comment on her color for fear of offending anyone or at best to come off as patronizing. I long for the day where breastfeeding here in the U.S. is not an uncommon thing to remarked upon but is the norm among all peoples. I also long for the day we can regard eachother plainly as fellow human beings and not feel the need to slap labels on to everyone. Maybe then I would not find myself slammed for no reason as I sit here nursing my 12 week old son.

  65. Amber says:

    Okay, I don’t know anything about breastfeeding across different races, but as a white woman in middle America I faced a whole heck of a lot of push back to breastfeeding. Everyone encouraged me to pump and store, and use a bottle. Any time I had ANY issues I was encouraged to just give my boys formula instead of toughing it through that phase. I choose to breastfeed in public sometimes (when I needed to). I was discreet and used a blanket, but never those nursing tents. Friends would offer to come sit with me in the bathroom or go out to our car, instead of nursing at a restaurant or a quiet corner at the mall. Other than my husband, I got zero support for it. SO many friends and family members now claim they too breastfed – but pumping for a few days and giving up is not the same thing.

    And Beyonce is not just special to black women… lots of us find her to be a special, talented and beautiful woman that we aspire to be/look like. Her breastfeeding, especially in public, is a win for all women. Not just black women. At least that is what I thought when I heard she did that!

  66. Angela Johnson says:

    So glad to see another positive example added to our growing list of successful breastfeeding stories. hopefully more stories like this will allow us – as African Americna mothers to see breastfeeding more as a social norm. And more importantly, it may allow us to turn our focus to other tangible barriers to breastfeeding initiation in black mothers like inflexible work environments, inadequate maternity leave, inadequate care for stress-related depression and other mental illness, and disproportionate disease and illness rates among African American mothers and their babies. (Johnson, Angela 2010) Until both social and structural factors are addressed, the rates of initiation rates among black mothers will continue to lag behind the rates of all other mothers.

    Please update the publications on the Black Breastfeeding 360 degree link! There are more recent articles published.

  67. Dana says:

    As a white woman, I definitely understand the cries of racism that some will throw in our direction. However, who cares! What’s more important: my feelings being hurt or sending a positive, healthy message to a population that, according to most statistics, is in desperate need of one? Words hurt, but if I know I’m working towards the greater good, it’s worth it!

  68. Thanks so much for this post! If you would be interested in seeing it in print in our summer issue, please check us out. you can see info about our latest issue on our website, or on Facebook. Sharing this message with my community and our readers.
    Jeramie @ SQUAT Birth Journal

  69. Dreamy says:

    I agree 1000%, but… is Nicole Ritchie not black?

  70. Utes says:

    Hi Kimberly,

    I’m a mother to be, and I can’t tell you how timely and appreciated this article is. I applaud Beyonce and any breastfeeding mother who is deciding what is best for their baby’s health and development. As you stated in your article, the statistics don’t lie, and it is so important to provide information and support to all women, but especially black women on these issues we face. I guess that is why I am a bit disappointed in the tone police and other commenters are making on this topic. While I do respect all opinions, I find it unfortunate that all of this good information was lost on some due to an interpretation and not the facts. Last time I checked I was on Mocha Manual..a place to research topics and get information and suppport that is typically not directed towards black issues faced all of the time. Naysayers stop with the negativity. Yes let’s all stand together as Women, but let’s not forget that certain issues black women face are not mainstream and we are allowed to praise black women for their success and their recognition that they are role models. Young women of any color need positive women to look up to.

  71. Phyllis says:

    Beyonce looks white to me, or maybe mocha. As an Asian women, can’t I claim her as a role model?

  72. Black Girl Says says:

    I’m sorry if this sounds offensive, but I am black and I think you sound extremely racist. What does race have to do with breastfeeding? Why do black people have to make everything about race? We are only 12% of the US population and that is shrinking with the influx of immigrants from Mexico, etc. OBVIOUSLY most of the women in breastfeeding ads are not going to be black. Don’t sound so hostile to white women; it is not their fault that black women don’t nurse their babies. It is not anyone’s fault except those black women who don’t nurse their babies! And what do you mean, “Did Beyonce turn white Besides, Beyonce is no role model for black women. Have you seen her…like,ever? She bleaches her skin and wears blonde weave plus has a nose job to look as white as possible. She is ashamed of being black, so why are some black people so proud of her? It makes you look ignorant, racist, and hypocritical.

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  1. [...] Seals Allers’ of Mocha Manual wrote an excellent post titled – Dear White Women: Beyonce Breastfeeding is OUR Moment. Please Step Aside. She makes some powerful statements to white breastfeeding advocates in her post. If  you [...]

  2. [...] talking about whose breastfeeding moment this is (hint: it’s black American women’s breastfeeding moment) but let’s not forget [...]

  3. [...] Sear Allers of the Mocha Manual addressed the issue in a blog post. ”Having Beyonce as our  black breastfeeding moment potentially means that more African [...]

  4. [...] Black Breastfeeding 360) has a great piece on media and other coverage issues around this topic, in Dear White Women: Beyonce is OUR Breastfeeding Moment. Please Step Aside. She writes: …with all the news reports about Beyonce, and all the breastfeeding [...]

  5. [...] acceptance. But we haven’t had so many. Yes, Beyonce breastfed Blue Ivy (whoo hooo!) and that was extremely significant to black women, but there also too much drama around that and we need more and more black mothers in the [...]



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