Ever since the photo of the mothers of the CMM taken in Railroad Park went viral, the response has been pleasant and not so pleasant, including so many racists comments that members of the group decided to no longer read blog comments.


An idea was sparked, and black mothers in Birmingham, Alabama quickly came together to showcase the power of black breastfeeding. For the past two years during the month of August and Black Breastfeeding Week, the members of Chocolate Milk  Mommies proudly showcased their success with breastfeeding to dispel the myths that “breastfeeding is for white people”, “breasts are for sex”, “a baby his size should not be on the tittie”, “he needs to be on a bottle already” and a host of other statements they have heard that undermine their choice. Did you know the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding a baby for at least two years of age?  See, succeeding in breastfeeding for black women is not just about giving their baby food. It’s about soul nourishment, health, bonding, protection and being attentive to their baby’s needs. It is about the empowerment and strength of a community.

All too often in the black community babies are separated from mothers due to lack of maternity leave from work or school, illness in the mother during or after delivery, premature births, and other socioeconomic concerns. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports in 2016, the rate of preterm births among African-American women (14%) was about 50 percent higher than the rate of preterm births among white women (9%). Within pregnancy-related deaths, The CDC reported between the years of 2011-2013, there were 43.5 deaths per 100,000 live births for black women compared to 12.7 deaths for white women. Breastfeeding keeps moms and babies together, improves the immune system, reduces cancer risk in women and is the one lifeline black babies can get nowhere else.

IMG: Chocolate Milk Mommies of Birmingham. Photographer: Lakisha Cohill

Ever since the photo of the mothers of the CMM taken in Railroad Park went viral, the response has been pleasant and not so pleasant including so many racists comments that members of the group decided to no longer read blog comments. This makes the call for more public breastfeeding photo campaigns even more important to inform the ignorant that breastfeeding matters for families and is a normal expectation in a child’s life.

I spoke to Rauslyn Adams, the co-founder of Chocolate Milk Mommies, and it was dope to hear the admiration the mothers not only have regarding their children but the power of their bodies.  

TJH: What sparked the beginning of this organization?

RA: We simply wanted to bring the concept of “it takes a village to raise a child” to reality. We wanted to have our own support system that understood our neighborhoods, family dynamics, and to create a sisterhood.

IMG: New Born. Johnny Silvercloud. Flickr. CCBYSA 2.0

TJH: What is the goal of Chocolate Milk Mommies?

RA: To dispel the myths of breastfeeding in the black communities and reject the sexualization of breasts. Social media has played a huge part in normalizing breastfeeding with images and support groups. I want women to know there are state and federal laws to protect their right to breastfeed and that there is no shame in breastfeeding or bottle feeding. We support both because we support families. CMM’s main goal is education. We plan to add more images to social media to show the beauty of breastfeeding and support families throughout pregnancy and parenting starting with our community baby shower in February.

TJH: What does the future look like for CMM?

RA: Our wish is to get enough funding to open a clinic for lactation, start birth doula trainings, have social work services, open a daycare and be able to continuously give back to the community. Since our image went viral, black-owned businesses have contacted us for support and to donate to our community baby shower which will include door prizes, car seats, strollers, gently used consignment type items, food for the event, clothing, and decorations. Right now, we are at the stage of figuring out what the community needs the most and will do our best to live up to their and our expectations.

 


To donate and give your support to Chocolate Milk Mommies
check out their Facebook page.

 

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