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Dear Whoopi Goldberg: Please Stick to Blackface Not Breastfeeding. And Stop Obstructing “The View” for Women With MisTruths.

Dear Whoopi Goldberg,

It’s time to get your (sister) act together.

As an African American woman, my association with you is already tenuous given how I am still healing, or perhaps reeling, from the infamous incident of you dressing your then-boyfriend Ted Danson in black face for a roast and then later admitting to helping him write the racist script.  This of course, is after you adopted a Jewish name to get ahead but yet pick up the African American mantle when it’s convenient.

But your recent rants on The View which can only be categorized as anti-breastfeeding and anti-truth don’t help any women at all, instead they only fuel the misplaced anger and hostility that unfortunately already cloud an important public health issue-an issue that could save millions of infant lives and bolster the health of millions of mothers.

Most importantly, you have a powerful and influential position yet you show negligent disrespect for that with your utter disregard for the facts before one of your riffs. Now, I strongly believe and agree that a mother should choose which first food is best for her and her baby. But supporting breastfeeding is not about removing choice, it’s about leveling the playing field which has, for decades, been tilted in favor of the big pharmaceutical companies that produce infant formula and then make back-door deals with hospitals and fund pediatricians, and undermine women in the process.

To make matters worse, it is very hard for women to actually “choose” when they are inundated with false information masquerading as facts. Particularly when those mistruths are being promulgated by movie stars masquerading as news agents. And as a seasoned journalist, that really gets my goat.

So, to the facts, Ms. Goldberg.

Whoopi Lie #1: In late April, when you told NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg to “back off” with “his initiative” called Baby Friendly Hospitals, you couldn’t have been more wrong.

The Truth:  The Baby Friendly Hospital initiative (BFHI), is an international effort, launched in 1991 by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, and is NOT of Mayor Bloomberg’s doing. Perhaps your producers could have Googled that to spare you the embarrassment. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative works to ensure that all maternity wards provide evidence-based breastfeeding support.

FYI, support is not pressure.

There are over 19,000 baby-friendly hospitals in the world, and 140 in America. BFHI works to prevent thousands of infants in the United States from suffering from the ill effects suboptimal feeding practices. Breastfed babies have a decreased risk of diarrhea, respiratory and ear infections, and allergic skin disorders.  Do you really have a problem with that?

And BTW, ASKING FOR FORMULA IF YOU WANT IT, AND BEING GIVEN IT FOR FREE WHETHER YOU WANT IT OR NOT ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS. ONE IS A MOTHER’S CHOICE THE OTHER IS THE END RESULT OF HOSPITALS BECOMING THE MARKETING VEHICLES FOR INFANT FORMULA COMPANIES.

Considering the health benefits of breast milk, and the cost of thousands of ER visits by infants suffering from diarrhea and ear infections, infant health IS the mayor’s business.

In fact, New York City currently only has one Baby Friendly hospital—Harlem Hospital, which is very good news because, while you have been singing Motown tunes in Nun costumes and talking to Ghosts, black babies have been dying at twice the rate of white babies—a health disparity that could be significantly reduced by more breastfeeding among black mothers, according to the CDC.  Meanwhile, black women have significantly lagged in breastfeeding initiation and duration for over 40 years. Yet a recent report shows that racial disparity narrows at Baby Friendly hospitals.

Whoopi Lie #2: “Not everybody can breastfeed…If 90% of women could breastfeed, they probably would.”

Truth: Well, actually over 90% of women CAN breastfeed. In fact, there are very few conditions where a mother and her child are truly unable to breastfeed. Estimates on how many women actually can’t breastfeed vary from 1-5%, depending on how this is defined, but that means that more than 90% of women can breastfeed if they want to.

I find this mistruth particularly troubling coming from you because I’m sure that if someone said a young black girl from the projects, daughter of a teenage mother, who became one herself at 18-years-old, a former drug addict who decided to take on a Jewish name to pursue her acting dream in Hollywood, CAN’T become a success, I assume you would be very upset. If someone said a black woman who doesn’t play the “beauty” game CAN’T be a blockbuster movie star you would whip out the long line of expletives in a heartbeat. And rightly so.

Yet, with all the “Can’t” that you have overcome in your life, you seem so quick to surmise what most women can’t do. And be wrong and strong about it. Shame on you.

All of that leads me to believe that there is something more personal going on with your ardent fervor against supporting women who want to breastfeed and making sure that decision isn’t clouded by commercial interests. Because, is that really so wrong?

Did something painful happen to you during your birth experience as an 18-year-old mother? Because your “my daughter was born with a tooth” story just doesn’t cut it—if you have gone through childbirth you know that enduring some temporary discomfort for the sake of your child is often par for the course of motherhood. And womanhood, for that matter. Some of us would choose short-term discomfort (when done correctly breastfeeding doesn’t hurt) for the sake of our baby’s health and my baby cut teeth at four months and continued to breastfeed until he was one year.

Perhaps some of the same racial and cultural mistruths and barriers to breastfeeding that have kept black women from breastfeeding for the past 40 years have affected (or infected) your thinking too. Perhaps you are not as progressive and empowered as you think you are but just responding to years of media stereotypes and aggressive formula marketing, and “Booby Traps ™”,  and generations of disconnect from our African American breastfeeding heritage.

Or your Jewish one.

Either way, it’s time for you to get your View corrected because black babies, in particular, need more breastfeeding mothers to reduce infant mortality and improve infant health and make sure more black infants make it to their first birthday. So if you want to damage the black community please stick to encouraging racist stereotypes like minstrel-like blackface, because our babies deserve better.

Perhaps you could also adjust your signature glasses just slightly above the bridge of your nose for a change, to clearly see the capitalist machine and misguided culture that has sold women the marketing line that infant formula meant empowerment and freedom (much like they sold us on shiny new appliances in the 1950’s and called us professional housewives), and then brainwashed us to believe that something made in a factory is just as good as what nature provides. But until then, your blinders and inaccuracies make you unqualified to offer any sort of “view” at all.

Sincerely,

Kimberly Seals Allers

P.S.. I did love you in The Color Purple

“Until you do right by me, everything you even think about gonna fail!”–Celie

 

Comments
105 Responses to “Dear Whoopi Goldberg: Please Stick to Blackface Not Breastfeeding. And Stop Obstructing “The View” for Women With MisTruths.”
  1. Mari says:

    AMAZING and powerful, not to mention, well written piece. Thank you for writing this. Thank you for fighting the good fight.

  2. Mark says:

    What a powerful response! I’m glad that you set the record straight and didn’t let this unhelpful framing of the issue continue.

    The closing – “I did love you in the Color Purple” was perfect!

  3. Amy says:

    This is amazingly written!

  4. Tara C says:

    Wow!! Reading this gave me chills. You seemed to take all the anger I’ve had about Whoopy’s Ignorant comments and written them down in such an eloquent and powerful way.

    • Identifiant says:

      I know this would I know this would take up more time if someone was to folruma feed their baby, but you can make your own using organic ingredients instead of the processed stuff from the commercialized folruma that also gets a lot of recalls, like Similac recently on bug parts which is also found in chocolate, cereal, etc. At least that way you know what your baby is getting when you make it. As for breastmilk supply, your body calculates how much bm a baby needs depending on how much or little they do.

  5. Aubrey says:

    THANK YOU!

    Support empowers women to make the right choice for themselves. As a nursing mother, I was pretty enraged by what she Whoopi said on The View. Her View hurts all women. It’s a shame.

    Also, my 10 month old has SEVEN teeth. Pooh pooh, Whoopi. Pooh pooh.

  6. Angie says:

    Strong, powerful and true piece- Thank you! I have to admit, I’m still a Whoopi fan- she’s always struck me as someone with integrity. Hopefully, she can admit when she speaks before she thinks and will amend her statements with truth. And if she does that as publicly as she put her foot in her mouth, imagine the good it could do…

  7. Aja says:

    Amen! I hope Whoopi reads this and has her eyes opened.

  8. Chandra says:

    Whooooop!! Whooop! Thank you! I love that you spoke of the temporary discomfort of breastfeeding, the sacrifice a mother makes to nurture and bond with her baby. I love that you said 90% of women CAN breastfeed- yes we can!! If we are on this organic, all-natural diet kick for ourselves, let’s set the same standard for our babies!!

  9. mary says:

    agree… very well written. it sounded like this is just something whoopi is not comfortable with & she used the tooth as an excuse. my 11mo old has 8 teeth & we’ve been BFing since day one. if the baby has a proper latch, you don’t feel the teeth. makes me mad that this woman has such a platform as a day time talk show that millions of women, some pregnant no doubt and she is making anti-breastfeeding comments. i feel bad that she is misinformed & ignorant on the subject. quite irresponsible.

    • Liz says:

      My son had such a strong latch/suck that I ended up with scabs on my nipples for months. Did it hurt? A bit, but it was worth it to me. For some it might not be worth the “trouble” (I’m guessing whoopie would be in that category), but for anyone to say providing support for breastfeeding and getting the borage of formula samples out of the hospitals is a bad idea is selling something.

  10. Holly says:

    LOVE THIS! I sure hope Whoopi has the chance to read this 🙂

    • Meredith says:

      that’s exactly what i was thinking — how can whoopi personally reading this essay be assured?

      • Darlene says:

        Well…anybody have the address for The View? Everyone could just mail a couple copies of this article to them and they’d have to read at least one 🙂 I’d spend a few bucks on stamps to do that.

  11. Malik Yakini says:

    Kimberly this is a very powerful analysis. The work you are doing is incredibly important!

  12. Johnnie says:

    This was on point and very well written. She most certainly isn’t as progressive as she may think. This initiative is very important. A necessary change! I wish she would recant and apologize. Although, I highly doubt she will have a change in opinion.

  13. Jayna says:

    VERY well said! I am a fan of Whoopi’s, but the latest travesty on The View with ALL of the co-hosts downplaying the importance of breastfeeding, and encouraging and empowering mothers to be succesful in nursing their infants at LEAST 6 months.

    • courtney says:

      What concerns me is your “for at least 6 months” comment. That’s another misconception .the WHO says 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding as a guideline about when to introduce solids, NOT when the minimum age for weaning Is. 1 year is the minimum recommended age.

      the recommended time frame for breastfeeding is 2 years and beyond, with the suggested minimum being 1 year. NOT 6 months.

      So again, “exclusive breastfeeding for at least 6 months” Is NOT about weaning. It’s about solid food.

  14. Renee G says:

    Fantasticly written!!!! I would just change one line… Breastfeeding as the biological norm doesn’t decrease risk of diarrhea as breastfeeding creates a nformula feeding increases the chances of it.

  15. Renee G says:

    Ooops…breastfeeding facilitates a normal functioning gut. Formula adulterates the normal functioning and increases risk.

  16. Honeysmoke says:

    Well said and well done. You dissected every part of that argument. For the life of me I can’t understand why folks feel like they need to add two cents to this debate. The science is clear, and I don’t know why anyone would want to deny children something so helpful to their development.

    Honeysmoke

  17. Jill says:

    Ya know, I’m so impressed with what you wrote and how you wrote it, that as a Jewish Mom of 2, makes me want to convert and become Black. Ok, that was a kibutz. But truly, THANK YOU! Now, can we get you to have a one on one with Ms. Goldberg on The View? If she’s so well entrenched in her view, it shouldn’t be threatening to her to invite you on the set. There’s a show I’d watch and applaud. Me? My kids are now 22 and 18. Both nursed til beyond their 5th birthdays. I’m blessed that La Leche League was around to open my eyes to the possiblities and choices that were mine to make!

  18. Tigerlee says:

    Considering when Whoppi first appeared on “the scene” it was the Black community that bashed her skin color, her hair texture, and her looks with unwarranted vitriol. So if you’re going to mention Whoopi’s poorly conceived Blackface sketch, be sure to acknowledge the public nastiness she had to put up with from many Black folks long before this sketch.

    Also, the snark about Whoopi’s age when she gave birth is completely out of line. You want to encourage all mothers to breast-feed and then use it as an opportunity to put down a teen mother. Right?

    She is also entitled to her opinion on breast-feeding, which I don’t think is anti-breastfeeding. I think it’s anti-poorly-trained-disruptive-sometimes abusive-lactation “experts”. Keep on ranting Whoppi, until the pro-breastfeeding lobby acknowledge and take to task some of their members have engaged in pushy, ugly behavior and feel justified because breast is best.

    I hope this new initiative includes training these “experts” in proper behavior.

    • admin says:

      Hey there TigerLee, I LOVE a spirited conversation. Be assured that my mentions of Whoopi’s personal life (which she had publicly shared many times over the years) is only to highlight how much she has overcome to become successful and 2. to point out that maybe things have changed since she was 18 years old. Also, I can wholeheartedly acknowledge that YES there are overzealous lactation consultants, but my birth experience was ruined by overzealous nurses who gave my baby formula against my wishes repeatedly and I had to fight to keep me baby with me…All of this needs to change. I also can acknowledge that many young black moms have disempowering experiences in the hospital because of stereotypes and assumptions and this may have played into her experience…There was no snark there. …and yes you are correct, some consultants could tone it down a bit. But if we stay focused on what’s best for baby and not on individual behavior, we can get this conversation in the right direction. (I wasn’t going to let a pushy nurse turn me from my decision and no other mom should let any other consultant keep her from her decision–bottle or breast.)

      • Me says:

        What does an ex-boyfriend in “black face”, her religious choice, changing her name and all of the other things that you stated relate to breastfeeding.

        It is unfortunate that you had such a traumatic experience with your baby. There are a number of women young and old who share your experience. There are a number of women who are bullied by lactation consultants and breastfeeding mother superiors and made to feel horrible if they struggle with or choose not to breastfeed. And yes, there are some mothers who don’t want to be bitten, can’t bare scabbed over nipples and don’t have La Leche on stand by in the next room. As you know being a mom is tough pre and post baby.

        I enjoy a “spirited” conversation too and I am intelligent to know the difference between an advocate and being a bully.

        • Victoria says:

          As a lactation consultant I get highlynoffnded at the huge amount of publicity that we get for being “bullies”. I know hundreds of professionals in the lactation field and none of them would approve of or consider Everett taking a mother’s right to choose from her. The focus is on providing accurate information from which a family may make an informed choice. And if that choice is to breastfeeding then to provide continuing support for that decision.

          What I have seen are a number of women who present sting a desire to breastfeeding and then cite twenty obstacles to that end. As the lactation consultant works with her it often becomes clear that breastfeeding was not her choice at all but someone elses, often either the fAther or other family member, and the mother hereof is looking for a professional opinion to support he inability to brastfeed. In is situation the only thing any good professional can do is provide information and step back. Unfortunately these women are often overwhelmed, being made to feel guilty and become angry. It is far easier to blame the unknown professional for ther unhappiness than to direct their anger at the actual source.

          As a lactAtion consultant in that situAtion I often try to alleviate this situation, but really I know that I am a necessary scape goat in that womans life.

          • Me says:

            Victoria, thank you for the work you do. You provide an extremely important and valuable service to mothers. I applaud you. (Please don’t get discouraged.)

            I have heard the horror stories about pushy lactation consultants and had my own personal experience with one. I also had the privilege of receiving support and encouragement from a network of consultants and pros. Those women are nothing short of amazing.

            I believe it is so important to have a network of support for moms from the time you see the plus sign. I believe veteran moms and lactation consultants should have an ongoing open, honest, welcoming conversation within the community so that it is no longer taboo or scary. Your decision on whether or not to breastfeed should not be an act of defiance.

            The mean girl (woman) tactics have to stop. The act of shaming, ridiculing, judging or if you are on the “Go Head Girl” team co-signing only undermines the greater good. While a person has a right to disagree with Whoopi we should be intelligent enough and compassionate enough not to bully.

          • Me says:

            I am advocate for healthy mothers and baby. I will not join in, justify or support bullying in any form regardless of the platform. It’ s so sad that we teach our children not to do it, many of us have been or know someone who has been bullied, however so many women join in and believe it’s okay because for a good cause.

    • nadinelc09 says:

      The initiative requires 20 hours of training for hospital maternity nurses and three hours for physicians.

  19. Sam says:

    Great piece!

    Dear Whoopi. If you read this. Please know that MY daughter is almost 2yo and breastfeeds. Guess how many teeth SHE has? F.Y.I. if the baby is correctly latched and actively feeding, teeth make no difference whatsoever. If you are going to mouth off on a topic, at least know what you are talking about first!

    • Hannah says:

      A newborn baby learning to breastfeed with TEETH in his mouth is not even close to the same thing as a baby who has already mastered breastfeeding growing teeth.

  20. Tigerlee says:

    I believe we can also disagree with someone’s opinion on a subject without attacking them personally or attacking their personal lives.

    • Katlulu says:

      Thank you for acknowledging that. Everyone preaches have your own opinion, then when one does, others attack. I don’t believe Whoopi ever claimed to be a baby expert….do something productive instead of trying to get press by dropping Whoopi’s name.

  21. kalani says:

    I didn’t breatfeed either of my childern but for one month and both are healthy and never got ear infections

  22. Janet says:

    I also applaud this well written and heart felt response to Whoopi’s damaging comments on breatfeeding. Anyone who compare statistics on the US and its increasingly high rate of infant mortality, and now huge rates of increase in obesity, will see the obvious correlation between formula fed babies and both of these tragic issues. I call formula “McDonald’s in a bottle”, it makes billions in profit at the expense of our children’s health and has the best marketers money can buy to push it.

    I just shared an article on Pinterest yesterday showing babies breastfed until at least 6 months have a 51percent less chance of being obese.

    As a mother of six breast fed – and highly intelligent – children and a school psychologist for many years, I can tell you nutrition plays a large role in intelligence and school performance.
    And there is no better nutrition for a baby than breast milk. I am so appalled at mothers and fathers who will spend months researching the best cars or cell phones to buy, but do virtually no research on formulas before they pour those chemical concoctions filled with cheap, over heated oils, synthetic vitamins, and poisonous sweeteners into those innocent and dependent little babies.

    So I applaud your attempt to teach the facts to Whoopi. However, until we, as the 99percent, change how big business rules and manipulates our lives by how we vote with our purchasing dollars and our political votes, then even changing Whoopi’s mind will not be enough.

    • admin says:

      Thank you for sharing your story April…I agree, there are some well-meaning but overzealous consultants out there. We’ve all heard the stories…And I agree that type of approach does not work–I’ve written that many times…But super kudos for turning your experience into a positive one…By focusing for what’s really best for mom and baby and not getting distracted by individual behavior we can really make an impact on infant health.

  23. stacy h says:

    LOVE this! love love love! You go girl!

  24. Katlulu says:

    Again, it is alarming that personal attacks here on Whoopi are being leveraged to augment your arguments. I love how self-righteous this article is. So are we to assume you (and everyone applauding this article) is perfect? Amazing – I can only hope to be so perfect one day. If we ALL concentrated on personal moral responsibilty and not attacking or blaming others, even when they bear some blame, maybe the world would be better. That will never happen because it won’t get enough press.

    • admin says:

      Katlulu, the details of Whoopi’s personal life were only used to show how much she has overcome and 2.to highlight that perhaps things have changed since you were in a maternity ward. Are there pushy lactation consultants? YES!! But there are also pushy nurses–and my personal experience was that nurses fed my baby formula against my wishes (even though it was clearly labeled on her bassinet) and that I had to literally fight to keep my child with me to make sure my wishes were respected. So there are bad experiences on both sides but the idea is to change the experience for all moms. I so appreciate your comments.

    • Mazy says:

      I am perfect.

    • Jackie says:

      I’m glad someone finally said it. Its amazing that so many people on here are applauding how “well written” this was when really I read it like an angry teenager trying to point out every unfortunate incident in the “unpopular girl’s” life. Powerful…maybe but for the wrong reasons. Everyone has the right to their own opinion and choice but frankly I’m tired of everyone trying to force me to breastfeed my children. Share the information and move on don’t bash someone because they don’t share the same opinion as you. Killing is wrong but I’m sure you all don’t have the same passion about gun violence that you have for breastfeeding and that is a cause that literally affects EVERYONE.

      • Me says:

        @Katlulu, @Jackie……I am so glad that you had the courage to point out and speak up against bullying. Jackie, I was amazed too. I always thought that this was a positive and motivating mommy blog and a forum to foster and encourage healthy mother and healthy women. I am an advocate for healthy mothers and babies .

        I am so sick of women bullying and tearing each other down. What I find truly galling is the condescending comments of “admin” . The most empowering thing about being a woman is owning who you are and be able to effectively communicate your position without murdering another persons spirit. It is amazing that as women, we recognize and raise our voices about bullying when we see women fighting and hurling obscenities on reality shows. Is mean okay as long as it is articulate and breastfeeding?

        It reminds me of a saying-“Don’t fake the funk on a nasty dump.”

      • midwifeheather says:

        Jackie, about 900 innocent babies die each year because of health problems that would have been eliminated by breastfeeding. that’s just in the US. So there’s some “killing” for you. Black American babies constitute an unbalanced majority of those deaths. In the rest of the world, formula companies are pushing themselves onto mothers who can’t afford them thus causing their breastmilk supplies to disappear, and, you guessed it, killing more babies. if ever an issue was life or death, breastfeeding vs, formula is one.

        • Me says:

          The increased rate of infant mortality is a serious issue. Ensuring that mothers receive the best health care and support throughout her pregnancy and ongoing education about breastfeeding (which I believe should start from day one-and not just a pamphlet). Ensuring that mothers eat healthy so that indeed, babies will receive the very best food so that can thrive should be the norm.

          A number of women shy away from breastfeeding for a number of reasons. I believe that most mothers want to give there child the very best and if giving the right tools and support they would choose breastfeeding.

          If you have given birth to a child or been around a new mother, you know how scary it can be. Read the post then read the comments on this message board and this is supposed to be a place that supports and encourages healthy moms and babies. Baby formula manufacturers and breastfeeding advocates both have the same message. If the message came from a smiling nurse and a baby bag full of goodies or an unfriendly breastfeeding consultant who tells you if you don’t choose this and/or you don’t do it right you are a bad mother. Which would you choose?

          We need to change the way we treat each other.

        • Darcie says:

          I am so tired of this 900 babies dying being quoted…that study isn’t a great one and the 900 wasn’t constructed very well neither was the increase costs of formula feeding. Take a look at this and the related comments. Just because the Surgeon General used it to promote her agenda doesn’t make it more valid!

          http://mommadata.blogspot.com/2011/02/surgeon-generals-botches-breastfeeding.html

  25. Char says:

    This was a VERY POWERFUL piece.!! Very well written. I love the way you supported all of your statements. Keep up the good work.

  26. I loved reading your article, you captivated me. Something you didn’t mention, when the discussion continued, it was stated how the lactation educaters were disrupting their sleep constantly comming in….. I want to put in my two cents.
    I was a young mother of 19, decided not to breastfeed, the hospital gave me the formula but when I had to start buying it for myself, I couldn’t I went to milk and karo syrup. You can imagine the health problems he now has at 32. I had two more boy’s after him who I was able to formula feed. The hospital just brought me my baby and a bottle, not much of a decision to make. I had a change of life child at 42 and now the “Baby Freindly” movement was in full force. Yes, they were comming in, disrupting my sleep, and sometimes rude and not to mention pushy. I wanted to bottle feed, nobody knew why I was makeing this choice. I was molested by my father for 16 years of my life…breastfeeding to me was sexual…they are mine…But, those obnoxious, rude and disruptive lactation educators would not leave me alone…THANK GOD!!! I was sucessful breastfeeding, for two years exclusively. At age 3 she was diagnosed with a kidney disorder and thanks to my dedication and support, she was still healthy. Without the help, I would not have been able to do this, nor would I have wanted to. I would have not known how beautiful this experience was, or known what kind of bond comes from breastfeeding. I still struggled with breastfeeding with teenage sons, but trying to normalize nursing in public and overcome my fears and take control of my life and boddy, I decided to design and patent a nursing cover and start my company CoverMyHeart. Without those obnoxious, rude, disruptive women none of this would have been possible and I would have been in the same hole I was in, hell!! What works for one may not work for all, but thank god someone cares enough to make this an initiative.

    • Christine says:

      Thank you Apri for sharing this very personal story. What a testimony how you were able to overcome the terrible time in your life and still be able to give your child the best you could. I applaude you for being able to look back and see the good in the “pushing” support of the women around you during your child’s birth. Thank you for sharing this! Hopefully there may be others in the same situation who can read your story and see the possibilities for them.

      • Thank you Christine. I currently share my breastfeeding story with soon to be moms at Glendale Memorial Hospital New Mommy Tour, A baby friendly hospital. It took me a lot of time before I was able to share, but when a young mom shares with me her experiences and her decision to try and breastfeed after hearing mine, is truly empowering. Breastfeeding truly changed my life.

    • Deborah says:

      Thank you April!! You articulated exactly why some of us are so adamant about getting the information out. Breastfeeding is not always emotionally or physically easy but it IS empowering and it IS the best way to feed and bond with a baby. You are amazing!

      • Thank you Deborah, Breastfeeding was emotionally difficult for me as it is for many moms, but yes, empowering. Breastfeeding my baby was the beginning of my healing. I have the mentality, if I can do it-so can you!!!

  27. Marge says:

    THANK YOU!!!!! for setting Whoopi straight. It is about time. She needs to be removed permanently from the VIEW and from any type of talk show. What a racist!!!

  28. Valerie says:

    I love love love this woman! Go Kimberly 🙂
    You are such a gifted writer.

  29. Rebecca Elowski says:

    Very well said! Thank you so much for this!!!

  30. Amy says:

    I love this response, well done. I didnt see this show but long ago I caught an episode where Whoopi noted she did not “believe” the evidence that BF is better than formula. Prior to her ignorant comments I had been under the impression she was an intelligent woman. I was saddened to think of those viewers naievely giving great credence to her words. She lost any respect from me at that time so I am not surprised by this at all but still disappointed. Shame on The View as well.

    • Lenore says:

      Whoopi not “believing” the evidence that formula feeding is inferior reminds me of my stepmother who formula-fed all her kids and then switched them to whole raw cow’s milk at 6 months old (which was probably better for them than the formula!). She will over and over again talk about how she didn’t breastfeed any of her kids and they, as adults, are all just fine. However, she conveniently ignores the fact that two of her kids are asthmatic and all four are morbidly obese (one just had gastric bypass surgery).

  31. Wendy K. Froggatte RN IBCLC says:

    Applause….fantastically written, and straightforward. Thank you for this!

  32. Michelle says:

    Well, I guess you’ve been “READ” Ms. Whoopi! Lol

  33. Stana Weisburd says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! We desperately need more eloquent women like yourself to speak the truth!
    I am happy to report that we actually have 2 baby friendly hospitals in NYC currently… Harlem Hospital & NYU!

  34. Sheri Hawkins says:

    Right on and well written!

  35. Beautifully written.

  36. Melissa says:

    You said it honey – and with lots of style!

  37. Carol says:

    As a Registered Nurse and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant at one of the few Baby-Friendly certified hospitals in the United States, I can tell you that as a nation we are light years behind in support of breastfeeding and we should be a leader. We have a majority of mothers now choosing to initiate breastfeeding after birth, but very few that will continue and have assistance during the crucial first year of life. Baby-Friendly hospitals provide breastfeeding education and support before birth, during the hospital stay and after discharge for as long as the mother needs assistance. I have had moms call me with questions or concerns well into the 2nd year of breastfeeding. The pharmaceutical companies have their hands deep into the pockets of the hospitals, doctors and our government. Money talks in this country and there is no money to be made by supporting breastfeeding. We have to value the health of women and infants and both are benefited by breastfeeding. We never force women to breastfeed, but we do make sure they are making informed decisions for their infant about the risks of formula feeding. Unfortunately, most of the world has been led to believe that formula is better than breast milk, but it is a constant experiment that is unregulated. Why does anyone think they have to add ingredients to make it “imrpoved”? Why are there so many recalls of infant formula – including recalls from bacterial infections that kill infants? Breast milk is meant for human infants, is the right nutrients for proper growth and development, produced in the right amounts and sterile. Formula is something the makers of drugs found that they could make from the waste products of the dairy industriy for pennies and make a fortune by adding a few ingredients in a futile attempt to mimic breastmilk. Because they made bargains with hospitals to give free formula to babies, they never had to spend money on advertising and were guaranteed future sales. Once the mothers interupted the cycle of breastfeeding with formula feedings, they made less and less milk and were dependent on formula. This is why you hear that so many mothers in the baby-boomer generation say they “couldn’t breastfeed” or “didn’t have any milk”. It was mismanagement of breastfeeding, not biology of mothers that caused them to not succeed. They were also led to believe that formula feeding was easier when in fact, breastfeeding is the original, ready to feed, fast food. We are just now making strides in reversing this terrible injustice and resulting poor health. Mothers need education, support and breastfeeding management that helps them – they do not need anyone that doesn’t understand a thing about the Baby-Friendly initiative spouting untruths. I hope Whoopie will do some research and apologize, but given the fact there are so many health professionals that don’t know the truth about the Baby-Friendly Hospital initiative, she probably won’t bother as they haven’t. I have also heard Barbara Walters verbalize her disgust about mothers breastfeeding in public, so The View is evidently a forum that wants to remain in the Victorian age, wallow in ingnorance and is certainly not a show I would ever watch. Mothers need to speak up in defense of their babies and themselves to make social change and seek Baby-Friendly hospitals for delivery so they can give their babies the best start in life. And congratulations to Michael Bloomberg for stating it is an important health initiative for hospitals to be Baby-Friendly.

    • Renee D. says:

      I’ve been a La Leche League Leader for 27 yrs, and not once have a roamed hospital corridors forcing mothers to breastfeed.
      I’ve made every effort to make sure mothers who want to breastfeed know how to reach us…If making sure that mothers can find LLL (or any other like-minded organization) is considered ‘pushy’..then I must be missing something. Fifty-five years of mother-to-mother support with fact-based information and breastfeeding management is available in 64 countries…all as
      a non-profit volunteer organization.
      Whoopi is entitled to her opinion…but her advantage is that she has a very public forum…AND she’s paid well to voice her opinion. Add that to television advertizing of breastmilk substitutes all targeted mainly to a day-time TV audience? Well,
      is it any wonder new moms are influenced. Millions of dollars are spent to ‘influence’ mothers that breastmilk substitutes are
      okay for baby…yet, most hospitals are understaffed with qualified Board Certified Lactation Consultants because funds aren’t available to staff appropriately. Luckily, I hear more and more hospitals are attaining the Baby-Friendly certification.

    • Deborah says:

      Carol, thanks for responding. There are so many people around who think that by removing ourselves from the natural processes of being women we can “equalize” ourselves with men or become “liberated” and take part in the world in larger measure, but as soon as we turn over our birthing process to the interventions of inductions, epidurals, elective cesarean sections, episiotomies and formula feeding, we abdicate a large part of our feminine selves. We can be strong women and independent women and give birth and feed our babies on our own terms. I have been a teen mother, an older mother, a single mother and a married mother and I have fought for my right to be a mother on my own terms. So many women don’t even know the facts before they allow themselves to be convinced to opt for a particular alternative and not get what is best for themselves or their children. We do need to make sure to educate women and girls before the fact so that they have the tools to make informed decisions. We do it in other areas, why not in this one? BTW: I am a nurse and have worked as a direct entry midwife and lactation consultant and have never been told I am pushy.

      • Poogles says:

        “as soon as we turn over our birthing process to the interventions of inductions, epidurals, elective cesarean sections, episiotomies and formula feeding, we abdicate a large part of our feminine selves. We can be strong women and independent women and give birth and feed our babies on our own terms.”

        So, which is it? If I choose a Maternal Request CS and combination feed (or even straight up formula feed) am I a strong, independent woman giving birth and feeding my baby on my own terms, or am I abdicating a large part of my “feminine self” (whatever the hell that is)? Why are the only acceptable terms the ones decided by the “Natural Childbirth Movement” and the like?

        • Nyph says:

          Good response, Poogles! When I gave birth to my daughter I got an epidural after 28 hours of labour and had an episiotomy as well, but I breastfed her for 16 months.

          My son was still breech at 38 weeks pregnant and since it looked as if he was quite a large baby, I had him ‘turned’ manually at the hospital, after which I had mild contractions but was also bleeding a little bit, so my contractions had to be ‘boosted’ as that would stop the bleeding. So not really an induction, but close to it. The birth was progressing well until I got ‘stuck’ at 4 cms and if it didn’t progress well enough, I would get an emergency C-section. So my husband and I decided an epidural was our best bet to avoid a C-section, and it turned out we were right, as after the epidural everything progressed smoothly. I managed to get the baby in the right position (he still had to pivot) and even though he wasn’t fully lowered I only had to push 3 times to get him out. He’s almost 13 months now and I’m still breastfeeding him. Have I given up a large part of my ‘feminine self’?

          I still think I should have asked for an epidural a lot sooner when I was having my daughter, as it took me 9 months to recover from giving birth to her. But at the time I believed in the myth that natural birth is ALWAYS better, when now I know it isn’t. I’m positive I wouldn’t have had such a difficult start breastfeeding her if I would have had an epidural after 20 hours instead of 28.

          I think the crucial thing is ‘the right information’ both on birthing and on breastfeeding. That includes the disadvantages of both, and information on when interventions are necessary.

  38. This is one of the BEST pieces I have ever read! Unbelievably well written, to the point, and vitally important. PLEASE be sure that Ms. Goldberg reads every word and delivers an apology to all mothers and babies, but in particular, the black community! Thank you so much for writing this…. my feelings precisely….

  39. What a terrific letter to Whoopi & it will be interesting to see what she does with it. I really get upset when women have not gotten the facts about breastfeeding to be able to make an informed decision to give their baby the absolute best foundation of health that lasts throughout their life!

  40. Please believe formula and circumcision are based on mistruths, unnecessary medical interventions, monied profit, and power grabs. Thank you Kimberly. Uhuru.

  41. Non-bonehead LC says:

    NYU is the other Baby Friendly hospital in NYC. Excellent piece!!

  42. lactmama says:

    Bravo Kimberly,

    I think you were able to say many of the things that many of us can not. This was a great message. As a ‘fellow mom’ you gave me great pride. I think THE VIEW is going to get a lot of feedback about Whoopi’s big mouth. She obviously has a lot of personal issues that she has not overcome in spite of successfully reinventing herself and reaching stardom. Would love to hear what her daughter has to say. Keep writing.

  43. Shirley says:

    Thank your Kimberley for your excellent Blog on this really important issue. The role modelling or lack thereof of celebrities will either help or hinder the extent to which our community breastfeeds and challenge the myths and misinformation about what is undoubtedly and scientifically proven the best food for our babies. The challenge is to go beyond all these negative messages that people like Whoopi puts out. Why does anyone need to put down the positive initiatives out there that is committed to reducing the disheartening statistics on breastfeeding which has not just short term but lasting impact on the development of our children. Apparently when you know better you do better – and it is time that celebrities ‘know better’ before they start sharing their opinions that will influence the behaviour of many women who look up to them. We have to turn the tied on ensuring our babies start off life healthy and well. So beautifully written I hope you sent a message directly to Whoopi so that they may be a chance for her to redeem herself

  44. mare ward says:

    Having worked for support of evidence-based practices in areas of breastfeeding and lactation care and the BFHI since its inception, I applaud this view of helping to open the conversation surrounding these topics.

    I believe societal sector involement is needed for the health care practice change! That and the Joint Commision for Accrediation of Hospitals as they require institutions which work in these areas to comply with evidence-based standards of care to remain open for business!!

    Thanks for your insight into this very important topic.

    Keep the consversations coming!

  45. robeerta says:

    I’m a 55 yr old Hispanic woman who breastfed. My 27 yr old daughter is now breastfeeding her son. My daughter was sooo healthy and still is. I breastfed her for 13 mos. I didn’t breastfeed her brother. He was constantly sick and had numerous ear infections. Also was allergic to everything. Eventually he outgrew all that BS. So I guess what I’m saying is this: from personal experience BREASTFEEDING IS THE BEST FOOD FOR YOUR BABY!!!

  46. Paala says:

    What a spot on response. I hope you don’t mind that I linked to you in my article about a positive nursing in public experience today. http://doublethink.us.com/paala/2012/05/05/this-is-the-way-nursing-in-public-should-be-treated/

  47. Leah says:

    I am not African American, but I so enjoy following your blog. This article was spot on.
    My son was born five days ago at a Baby Friendly Hospital, the only one in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. I faced multiple challenges to breastfeeding and had I not been at a BFH, I don’t know that I would have been successful. I am so grateful for that initiative; it is one of the reasons we chose to deliver at this hospital even though we live 2 hours away. All the support we received reinforced my belief that I could do this, and I wish every hospital pursued this designation.
    5 days down, we are now successfully nursing with a breast shield and extremely minimal formula (literally a few ml per day, just to assist with latching until I can pump some breast milk out.)
    Thanks again for writing this.

  48. Margot Mann says:

    Kimberley, this is a wonderful response.
    Until now I have been a fan of Whoopi Goldberg. I am shocked at her attitude and that not one of the panel knew what the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative is.
    Any feminist should be thrilled by the removal of commercial and institutional roadblocks to optimal infant feeding. The panel’s ignorance of the UNICEF-WHO initiated Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative and Whoopie’s attitude are remarkable.
    However, should Whoopie do her homework and change her position to one of support for this initiative I will hasten to congratulate her. It takes courage to admit when you are wrong. And she is SO wrong on this one!

  49. Me says:

    This post wounded me. Every paragraph was another sharp kick in the gut. I even reread it (and the comments) several times because I just knew that something was wrong with my BlackBerry. I prayed and waited to post a response and I paused before throwing out your books, canceling your newsletter and posting a nasty comment.

    You did not agree with Whoopi’s personal feelings and comments. You did not like the way she used her platform. What does it profit you to use your platform to demean her choices and personally attack her? Why did you have to defend your position about breastfeeding with such poison? our open letter laced with the mocking of a religion, racism, sexism and your use of trying to shaming and humiliate her are evil. Your position as advocate of breastfeeding does not make bullying okay.

    I am a proud mom. There are five living generations of mothers in my family four of whom who chose to breastfeed. I did not choose to breastfeed exclusively because that was not the right choice for me so do I pack up my mom card and my Black card and mail them to you? Does that deem me not good enough and should I send you every indiscretion I have made so that you can shame me. I don’t know you personally, yet I have supported you by buying your books (even having my husband track 50 miles to buy one during my pregnancy) and recommending your books and blogs to people and applauding your success. So yes I am pissed because of your deception. Your mentioning of the “black face” makes me question the masks you wear and how wounded you must be to say the things you said.

    I grieve for you and the band of Mean Girls who believe that it’s okay and I pray for healing and love. I am also grateful because reading it reminded me to be how important mercy is.

    • Snookums says:

      I agree. This is unnecessarily mean and personal. Whoopee Goldberg doesn’t believe the hype about breastfeeding. So what? You have to run her down, because you really don’t have anything of substance to say about her position.

  50. Laura Ivansons says:

    Amen sister! I am a white mother of almost 8 children, my oldest being 21. I was on the forefront of the Baby Friendly Initiative in Delware in 1991 and a few years after. We had to FIGHT the nurses to give out our breastfeeding friendly bags with a water bottle for the mom, literature to help them breastfeed and inform them of nursing growth spurts and normal and abnormal issues, and NO FORMULA! The nurses were the biggest issues, trying to force pacifies, sugar water and moms putting babies in central nurseries.

    In fact, my first son was born in our local hospital 2/23/91 and I had a nurse tell me “your nipples will fall off” when she found I had nursed my son 20 minutes on each side and was unwilling to stop. They were mad I would not put him in the central nursery and when I tried to cosleep they threatened to take him to the nursery. So I stayed up all night nursing and holding him and got out of there as fast as possible. The truth is I was a Birth Center/CNM patient so I was very well-educated and not easily bullied so I can only imagine how many other moms gave in to their demands. I am sad to say I bet 21 years later it isn’t much better.

  51. Alice says:

    I wish everyone could breastfeed. I wish everyone who thinks scabbed and sore nipples are the norm would take a look at a wonderful video called “Baby, baby oh baby” that shows how babies are born knowing how to latch and nurse, if only we would lean back and allow them.

  52. Patty says:

    You are so right!! My daughter was also 4 months old and I breastfed her for 14 months. There is no more precious gift you can give your baby.

  53. Delia Camp says:

    Well said!

  54. Karith says:

    Kimberly,

    I thoroughly enjoyed your article and thought your response was powerful, meaningful and said with panache. As someone who has many relationships with the subject(s) a) my first job out of college was on the production team of The View- and I still have friends who work there. b) I’ve met Whoopi several times; she who could not be lovelier in person (I am a comedian as well and was a guest on her morning radio show right before she went on to The View) and I too believe she is a talented artist and c) most importantly I am an African-American woman who is pregnant with her first child and is planning to breast feed as I was breastfed. As much as I like Whoopi, I was SO disheartened to hear her comments. You were right on the money- what she said- her personal experiences aside is a terrible disservice to mothers-to-be of ALL races but especially African-American women and their babies. Until recently I had no idea about the deficit we have in our community of Black women NOT breast-feeding. They say that everything happens for a reason and I am a believer in that. Maybe if nothing else- Whoopi’s terribly misguided remarks will generate more responses and thus more awareness from journalists like you and comedians like me (I like to think I’m a purveyor of truth- just a little less uncensored) and this will garner attention and the people i.e. women who need it will become informed and do what is best and healthy for them and their babies.

    As I mentioned I am a comedian on my way to being a first time mom I’m doing my best to keep my wits and humor about me which is what inspired me to start my blog http://www.diaryofapregnantcomedian.com- hope it gives you a few laughs too.

    Best,
    ~Karith

  55. Kay says:

    Well said. I hope she reads it.

  56. Jenn says:

    Amen mama. Amen. Very well written.

  57. Yuni says:

    Well said. Thank you for writing this!

  58. Jen says:

    While I fully agree with your statements about breastfeeding, I am not sure why this had to take an anti-Semitic and racist tone. If you don’t see it, read it again. Your well said comments are so tainted with a hateful tone that I would not send this on to any of my breast-feeding advocate friends. And I have a lot of them.

    • Agreed, Jen. Although I personally agree with Whoopi’s stance, I wasn’t thrilled with how she articulated it (although I think that has more to do with the format of The View, and the fact that Whoopi is an entertainer, and not an academic or activist in this regard). I think this post made some very valid points, and there are certainly factors that apply solely to the Black community when it comes to breastfeeding promotion. (BTW a really good, sociologically-based book that discusses some of these issues is Linda Blum’s “At the Breast” which offers a far more nuanced discussion of why women in the lower-income Black community may have had lower breastfeeding rates than their white, affluent counterparts.)

      However, I am really bothered by all the comments on her Jewish last name. Just as there are things I write which may inadvertently offend some of my lactivist friends, I’m hoping this was simply an unintentional mistake on the author’s part. Having a Jewish last name has nothing to do with anything, and I was always under the impression that the reasons for Whoopi taking on a different last name were something of a mystery.. and she does talk about “feeling Jewish” and having a connection to Jewish culture, so I don’t know if it’s fair to assume that this rumor is true… interesting article about it it here: http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/48817/whoopi-goldberg-im-jewish-and-i-talk-god?

      In any case, the Baby Friendly Initiative DOES include language about not providing formula of any kind “unless medically indicated”. It is not clear what this is going to mean across the board, but numerous women I’ve interviewed who have given birth in BFI hospitals have indeed felt “bullied” and some had to send husband running out in the middle of the night to purchase formula. I’ve said it before, but baby friendly doesn’t always mean mother friendly. Benefits of breastfeeding aside, I think we need to be honest about the fact that BFI is for the babies, not the mothers, and trying to make it appear like these practices will benefit mothers in any way besides helping those who WANT to breastfeed do so successfully, is somewhat misleading….

      • Sarah says:

        Of course there are benefits for the mother with breastfeeding! What about the mothers who want and need help!
        I wish my hospitals had that program. Instead I had to try and latch my baby on by myself, THEN no healthcare professional recognised that they have tongue ties which explained all the agony I was going through.
        There are so many benefits for the mother with breastfeeding, your comment is totally wrong.

        • Megan says:

          Here’s a thought – use a pump!!! You don’t have to worry about them latching on & they are still receiving all of the benefits.

  59. Alby says:

    Couldn’t have said it better myself!!!

  60. Shakara Tyler says:

    Thank you Kimberly! There’s nothing like a shot of un-sugar-coded truth! Yes!!!! I love it!!!!

  61. Gizella DiVenere says:

    This is absolutely brilliant!!!!!

  62. lisa mitchell says:

    MONEY TALKS………. SHE MUST OF GOT A FAT CHECK FROM THE FORMULA COMPANY, OR MAYBE SHE IS REALLY BRAINWASHED LIKE MY MOM WAS WHEN SHE TOLD ME THAT BREASTFEEDING WAS NASTY. MUST OF BEEN WHY I WAS SUCH A SICKLY CHILD.

  63. star Siegfried says:

    Shame on Whoopi. Whoopi you have lost touch with the mothers of America and around the world. Breastfeeding is normal and from a public health perspective is essential. We all can agree that smoking, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and more are epidemic.
    Prevention is the key message from grass roots organizations to our federal gov. How shameful of you to misrepresent breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is a key prevention measure in all of the above issues. However, bonding is also key and breastfeeding provides bonding like no other. Whoopi, have your editors do your research for you.
    I’m am sorry Whoopi that you were not able to breastfeed but you are misinformed and out of touch!

  64. Betsy says:

    Awesome – right on!

  65. Truth to Power says:

    I lost all respect for Whoopi Goldberg when she defended Roman Polanski in the rape of a 13 year old girl, saying it wasn’t “rape rape.” Last I checked, plying a child with drugs and alcohol and then raping and sodomizing her DOES count as rape rape. There’s something very wrong with this woman. I think she needs to grow a conscience and stop kissing up to rich and powerful criminals who’ve gotten away with the most heinous of crimes. I used to like her movies too, but now I don’t even like looking at her.

  66. Sunday says:

    YES!!!!!!! Ignorance is NOT bliss. I hope you were able to get this to her personally, via an e-mail, snail mail or otherwise so that she willa ctually lay eyes on your poignant peice. For her to love my President and First Lady so, she has done a huge disservice to the First Lady’s primary initiative against childhood obesity. Awesome piece and keep up the stellar work!!

  67. Megan says:

    This is really despicable. First off, this is not well written. I have counted numerous grammatical errors. Second, do you HONESTLY think she gives a darn about what some blogger thinks of her views on breastfeeding? At first, I thought this was all just a joke. But clearly everyone is serious. And admin, your explanations as to why you mentioned her religious views, past racist mishap, & the fact that she was a mother at 18 make absolutely no sense. All’s it is is you taking a low blow. So she didn’t breastfeed. Big deal! (I realize that some people are going to want to shoot me for saying that, but oh well.)
    This post & a lot of the people who commented blatant disrespect for how others want to raise their children, I feel, is part of what is turning people off to breastfeeding. Hopefully, your children that you are so perfectly nourishing are not going to be such bullies.

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  1. […] in getting critical support in place for mothers to have a successful go at breastfeeding. Despite asinine and uninformed commentary from the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, we know that BFHI has meant higher initiation and continuation rates by women who would ordinarily […]

  2. […] thought this was a great opportunity to post an article she had written a few months back, titled Dear Whoopi Goldberg: Please Stick To Blackface Not Breastfeeding. And Stop Obstructing “The V…. In case you’re unsure of the exact reasons behind Kimberly’s post, she ridiculed […]



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