Shakurah’s Story: Why I Breastfeed
By Shakurah Shanelle
Editor’s Note: 2018 marks the sixth annual recognition of Black Breastfeeding Week. It is celebrated this year from August 25-31. According to blackbreastfeedingweek.org, “This year, we say #LoveOnTop because love encompasses everything we do as parents from breastfeeding to nurturing others. Love is also how we survive grief, overcome breastfeeding and parenting challenges, and why we practice good self-care.”
People always ask me, “How can you even breastfeed?” To me it’s all an experience that is needed for both me and my child. I am practicing the ways of my ancestors, therefore I breastfeed and cater to my health as if it is my richness.
Contrary to popular belief, 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; to not have tried to be the sole provider of where my child receives all of his nutrients would have meant to fail myself as a mother. I feel that way because if I willingly allowed my doubts and ignorance to control me before my baby’s needs did, I couldn’t live in peace with myself.
I told myself to never settle to be just another statistic. Why would I balk at the fact that my baby only needs me to live in his very first year of life: no additives, chemicals, or preservatives. Just me and two breasts to offer and two arms to hold him close to the very first heartbeat he heard from inside the womb.
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 to 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.”
Thank you to those who donated to LLL USA in May, June and July!
Mary Ann Albert
William C. Brandt
Virginia & Dick Navarro “In Honor for Mother’s Day of Tara, Jessica, Mary Beth and Claire who chose breastfeeding to give our grandchildren the best start in life. Thank You!”
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