As we kickoff Black Breastfeeding Week 2016 as part of the Instagram Takeover, it is only appropriate that I share my extensive documentation of black mothers breastfeeding over the past year. However, I want to encourage everyone who views these photos to take a moment to educate themselves about why this week even exists. It is a celebration that raises awareness about the devastating statistics that women of color are up against due to minimal lactation education, a lack of cultural support, and the unfortunate historical circumstances that forcefully separated our ancestors from their babies. Refer back to the Top 5 Reasons We Need A Black Breastfeeding Week to read more, but I will share with you the alarming statistics upon which these efforts are based below:
“Black Breastfeeding Week was created because for over 40 years there has been a gaping racial disparity in breastfeeding rates. The most recent CDC data show that 75% of white women have ever breastfed versus 58.9% of black women. The fact that racial disparity in initiation and even bigger one for duration has lingered for so long is reason enough to take 7 days to focus on the issue…” –Black Breastfeeding Week, 2014
To follow are images of black mothers breastfeeding in diverse variations of normal breastfeeding circumstances. After becoming enlightened in early 2015 about the difficulties surrounding breastfeeding within the black community, I decided to start the Normalize Breastfeeding Tour (#NBFtour). Documenting diversity has been the focus of this project from day one; it is imperative across cultures as well as delivery methods of breast milk. Although we have a very diverse population here in San Diego, I always knew that the environment would also tell viewers more about each mother’s story. When I launched the tour in August 2015 I had my heart set on traveling to Atlanta, Georgia for Black Breastfeeding Week to capture women of color breastfeeding their babies in normal, every-day situations.
In the past 365 days I have documented a wide range of very peaceful, loving, and joyous moments among the mothers who, statistically, are less likely to initiate breastfeeding after birth, less likely to breastfeed exclusively for a minimum of 6 months, and are less likely to breastfeed for the entirety of infancy, a recommended two year minimum according to the World Health Organization. Yet these mothers that I have photographed, like myself, have actually accomplished so much more!
Below are black mothers breastfeeding babies, toddlers and children across the United States of America. Yes, we do this. Black mothers do breastfeed. We even breastfeed babies past one year of age! These women below, including myself, are (thankfully) not part of the unfortunate statistics presented above. **All images Copyright 2015-2016 NormalizeBreastfeeding.org – All rights reserved**
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA