Lactation and Legacy: Celebrating the Black Leaders of La Leche League USA
by LLL Leader Tyler Griffin, Certified Lactation Educator
Black History Month is more than just a month; it is a time dedicated to honoring the achievements and contributions of African-Americans. The New Beginnings team is set to feature inspiring stories and significant accomplishments of Black LLL Leaders, highlighting the remarkable journey and impact of these Leaders both within and outside of La Leche League.
A Fusion of Voices and Visions
At the heart of this collaboration is a shared vision of amplifying Black voices and stories. The New Beginnings blog provides a way to support sharing the stories that matter.
Celebrating Black Futures and Honoring Our Black La Leche League Leaders
This February, we will go beyond looking back at the past; we will also celebrate Black Futures. It’s about showcasing the dynamic, ongoing contributions of the Black Leaders within La Leche League, recognizing that Black history is being made every day by them. Each story will be a testament to their creativity and their brilliance as they shape a more inclusive and equitable tomorrow. These amazing Leaders are not just champions of breastfeeding; they are pillars in their communities, offering support, education, and advocacy for human lactation as a vital part of reproductive justice and child-rearing.
A Month of Inspiration and Empowerment
Throughout Black History Month, New Beginnings readers can expect a series of features, including:
- Inspirational Leader Spotlights: Diving deep into the lives and achievements of Black Leaders who are making a significant impact in their fields.
- Leader Accomplishments: Celebrating milestones and successes of Black Leaders.
- Educational and Culturally-Specific Content from Credentialed Lactation Professionals and Dietitians:
- Celebrating Black/African Diasporic Foods as Whole Foods
- Lactation as Revolutionary Work
- Supporting Queer and Neurodiverse Black Lactating Families
- And more!
Black Voices Featured in New Beginnings Past
While we are excited to showcase new stories in the coming weeks, we will also take a look back at some of the posts from Black contributors to the New Beginnings blog from over the years.
If you’d like more details about the research and statistics on Black breastfeeding, Denys Symonette Mitchell’s story from September 2020 shares extensive information, along with her personal story.
“For generations, systemic oppression has stripped Black women of the opportunity to breastfeed. The racialized trauma of wet nursing is the genesis of Black women’s breastfeeding journey in America… Implicit bias — like what I experienced — is one of the underlying factors that contributes to low rates of initiation and duration today.
Despite the odds, my beautiful boy and I have continued … breastfeeding these past eight months and plan to continue for at least another eight more.”
You can read more of her story here.
Amazing advancements in lactation care can be credited to Black lactation professionals. In an interview from August 2021, LLL Leader Nekisha Killings, MPH, IBCLC introduces us to a tool that helps those who provide lactation support to see how different skin tones are affected by various breastfeeding challenges.
“I’m proud to share that during Black Breastfeeding Week 2021, The Melanated Mammary Atlas will launch! The purpose of the MM Atlas is to help familiarize practitioners with the various ways conditions present on more deeply pigmented skin, so that the insight gained may inform care interactions and care decisions regarding people of color. ”
You can read more of her interview and about her important work here.
In 2018, Shakurah Shanelle shared her story with New Beginnings during Black Breastfeeding Week. She shares her feelings about her own breastfeeding experience as a Black woman.
“As an African-American woman my health is my wealth and my baby literally lives because of it. The substance that is within my breast is designed specifically for him to be his strongest and feel his safest.
How beautiful of an experience it is to be organically free in the act of feeding life into my child in a way that was once forbidden to my ancestors. Being a black woman in this country is tough—especially with the political climate getting hotter as the days pass—with a history of breastfeeding that has many hidden truths and injustices. That’s why being a black woman that breastfeeds makes me feel as if I carry a consummate elegance about myself. Breastfeeding my child is an act that says to the people in this society that frown upon the growing community of breastfeeding women: ”I am here, black, beautiful, nurturing, and fighting with peace, love, and breastmilk.”
You can read more of her story here.
Together, let’s make this Black History Month a period of learning, celebration, and inspiration, as we learn from the past so as not to repeat it, make the present equitable, and look forward to a future filled with equity, reparations, endless possibilities, and achievements.
Further reading about breastfeeding during Black History Month
Send your stories to Kylie at [email protected]
Supporting Breastfeeding Families–Today, Tomorrow, Always
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