Kimberly Seals Allers, the co-founder of Black Breastfeeding Week, is my guest on the podcast this week. Kimberly lives in New York, is a world-renowned speaker, five-time author and host of the Birthright Podcast. Most recently, Kimberly added tech founder to her impressive repertoire having set up the Irth app to address racism and bias in maternity and infant care.
Kimberly is on a mission to transform the experience of motherhood for all and to eradicate the racial disparities in birth and breastfeeding. Needless to say, I am a huge fan of the work Kimberly does and I was very excited to get the opportunity to speak to her during Black Breastfeeding Week.
The need to reclaim black breastfeeding
Black Breastfeeding Week has been running for nine years in the US and Kimberly tells us the reasons why she and her other co-founders Kiddada Green and Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka felt it was necessary to bring greater awareness to breastfeeding in black and brown communities. They no longer wanted the racial disparities of breastfeeding to be ignored.
The most recent CDC data show that 75% of white women have ever breastfed versus 58.9% of black women. Much of this stems from the breastfeeding practices during slavery in which black slaves were used as ‘wet nurses’ for their white employers and often forcibly separated from their own children and unable to breastfeed them. It’s this history and the complexities of other cultural nuances which understandably have affected future generations and their outlook and feelings towards breastfeeding.
Listen to the full episode here
“We wanted to create a movement, to spark a revolution in reclaiming black breastfeeding. Certainly here in the US breastfeeding was something black women did before they were brought to this country and enslaved.”Kimberly Seals Allers
Kimberly acknowledges that what we are facing is a social justice issue as well as a public health issue. More most be done to better educate, support and equip black and brown communities for breastfeeding. We all have a role to play in this, for as Kimberly says, “none of us are free until all of us are free…our futures are inextricably linked.” She encourages us all to partake in Black Breastfeeding Week and to be allies for the cause.
Festival of Rest
The theme for Black Breastfeeding Week this year is ‘The Big Pause: Collective Rest for Collective Power’ and Kimberly urges us to honour breastfeeding as a moment of rest, to pause and feed our babies. The headline event is a Festival of Rest on Saturday 28 August with lots of talks and self-care advice and tips to help you rest and restore in what has been a tough year for many of us.
New book announcement
Kimberly also announces that she will soon be working on a new book ‘Breastfeeding in Colour’ about the impact of racism on birth and breastfeeding patterns. You can find out more about Kimberly and keep up to date with her work on her website kimberlysealsallers.com.
Kimberly’s talking points
- The deep history of breastfeeding practices for black women
- Why breastfeeding amongst black and brown communities is a social justice issue and a public health issue
- The work being done to close the policy gaps that affect all mothers in the US
- Why Black Breastfeeding Week is something we can all celebrate and honour
- Ways we can reframe breastfeeding as an important time to rest and pause
- The new book coming out, ‘Breastfeeding in Colour, about the impact of racism on birth and breastfeeding.