Why does celebrating Black Breastfeeding Week in Canada matter?
Taleah Clarke, a La Leche League Leader in Toronto and the mother of three boys ages 5, 2 and 2 months, shares her story;
"Growing up as a Black (biracial) child in Regent Park, Canada's oldest and largest social housing project, I didn't see many people in my community breastfeeding. As we know, breastfeeding rates are lower in lower income neighbourhoods, so this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. When I met my partner and his family, my mother in law was breastfeeding her 3 year old daughter and my sister in-law was breastfeeding her 1 year old son. Their family just like mine is biracial, with a white mother and Black father. My mother on the other hand, didn’t breastfeed my older brother at all, attempted to breastfeed me (but with little support couldn’t make it work), and breastfed my younger brother for 3 months or so. I was 4 years old when he was born but I have no memories of seeing her breastfeed. And with no clear memories of seeing any of my extended family breastfeeding, seeing women so openly breastfeed was strange and seeing a 3 year old breastfeed was shocking!
When I had my first child (in late 2012) I was determined to breastfeed and I began to immerse myself in the world of breastfeeding education and advocacy. Something I noticed immediately was a lack of people who looked like me. Educators, advocates, and breastfeeders themselves were mostly white. I went to mommy groups, and breastfeeding clinics, I reached out to two local La Leche League groups for support. But in all of those places I rarely saw women who looked like me and as much as I was welcomed I couldn’t shake the feeling that I didn’t really belong. So I started searching 'Black' 'breastfeeding' and found so much information; a whole other world."
This is the 6th year of Black Breastfeeding Week. This year's campaign is #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. For more information about Black Breastfeeding Week visit www.blackbreastfeedingweek.org.
Let's share our stories in Canada, increase the visibility of black breastfeeding week, and show everyone how we put Love on Top of it all!