Breathe, Thrive and Grow.

I am writing this on the heels of my May 27, 2020 post titled, “Exhausted.” Lots of changes have taken place in communities across the nation since my previous post. Several posts remain in “draft” status as my intention is to remain on task by discussing all that has taken place during the month of June. Our nation is currently in the midst of a movement. In the words of National Radio Hall of Fame Inductee, Joe Madison, “the difference between a moment and a movement is sacrifice.” Salute to the foot soldiers on the frontline of the movement while the nation is in the middle of an active pandemic. You are indeed making a huge sacrifice as COVID-19 did not magically disappear. Your activism is needed. I see you. I hear you. I support you.

“The difference between a moment and a movement is sacrifice.”

Joe Madison

Many of us are still exhausted; yet we are only half way through the current year. This month two memorial services for Brother George Floyd were televised. We also witnessed the killing of Brother Rayshard Brooks at the hands of police. He was laid to rest yesterday. The month of June presented the notion that Black men are suddenly hanging themselves from trees in an attempt to complete suicide. I refuse to believe that these lynchings are the result of suicide. Dr. Stacey Patton discusses this eloquently in her article written for the The Washington Post. Throughout June I have continued to provide mental health support to clients in a virtual format and have discussed all of the above events almost daily. The weight of the last few months is readily apparent with pain and powerlessness serving as the overarching theme.

During the first week of June I stumbled across a photo of an unknown nursing parent on social media. The photo was shared by a number of people but details about the parent and origin of the photo were unknown. I shared the photo but initially hesitated to do so as I had no way of giving credit to the owner of the photo. Within a few days the parent, Autumnn Gaines, was discovered thanks to social media. The photo was taken by Autumnn’s wife, Jania Gaines, and is being used here with Autumnn’s permission.

The photo and caption sends a much needed message, however, I cannot turn a blind eye to the racial disparities that exist for Black breast / chestfeeding mothers (parents) that impede our ability to provide our offspring with human milk. Breast / chestfeeding isn’t always an option for us. Studies show that Black women (parents) breast / chestfeed at lower rates when compared to other ethnic groups. It is imperative that we unpack the following: 1) structural racism in healthcare settings where access to quality healthcare isn’t always guaranteed; 2) medical settings that discourage Black women (parents) from breast / chestfeeding by solely offering supplemental feeding products; 3) working in environments where one does not have the option of maternity leave; 4) inadequate support; and 5) a complicated history where our enslaved African ancestors served as wet nurses to the slave owner’s children leaving our children to go without the nourishment of our milk. For some, a sense of pain and powerlessness is a theme starting the moment that our children are birthed into the world. I will explore this further in August as we celebrate World Breastfeeding Month and Black Breastfeeding Week.

“At the root of what’s happening to black women and their birth outcomes, as well as their disparities with breastfeeding, is an issue about racism and bias.”

Kimberly Seals Allers

This month I am grateful for Autumnn’s photo. It was a breath of fresh air to stumble across it while aimlessly scrolling through social media. Breast / chestfeeding is life-sustaining and the photo speaks volumes with very few words. Timing is of the essence and the photo was posted at a time where many Black people feel powerless. When I look at the photo I see a mother that has made a powerful choice in determining how to nourish her son in a world where some parents are robbed of this choice. Autumnn represents another mother that debunks the myth that Black women (parents) do not breast / chestfeed. I see a mother that is unbothered and unashamed to feed her son in a public setting. Note that some parents have experienced ridicule for choosing to nurse openly in public. Lastly, this photo represents a mother that has made a healthy choice for herself, her son and her family. June is Pride Month and I celebrate Autumnn and her family.

“I’ll feed him, but you have to let him Grow.”

Autumnn Gaines

Black lives matter and making the choice to breast / chestfeed is a good start to closing the racial nursing gap. It serves as an example of finding empowerment through positively reframing an experience that was once deemed to be negative. Shifting from pain to purpose is a very necessary step. It is also necessary to exist in a world that provides support so that our people can breathe, thrive and grow.

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk

References

Jones, K., Power, M., Queenan, J., & Schulkin, J. (2015, May). Racial and ethnic disparities in breastfeeding. Retrieved June 24, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4410446/

(n.d.). Retrieved June 24, 2020, from https://www.slaveryfacts.org/classroom/breastfeeding-master-s-babies-the-wet-nurse-slave

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

A Sincere Thank You…

thank-you

\ ˈthaŋk-ˌyü  \

Definition of thank-you

a polite expression of one’s gratitude

Maziwa Tribe wants to take a few moments to send a sincere thank you to everyone navigating this new normal. As stated in our previous blog, life has a way of taking unexpected twists and turns. Changes are made as new information becomes available and we have all had to be flexible in our daily dealings. Next steps are out of our control but patience and vigilance is a must.

Thank you to all of the medical professionals who are on the front line and caring for those in need. Your sacrifice is extraordinary! Your diligence in navigating challenging spaces is admirable along with your ability to improvise in the medical setting.

Thank you to social workers helping vulnerable communities and ensuring that said communities are able to function and have resources to navigate during this time. Your sacrifice is remarkable.

Mental health issues can exacerbate during challenges and times of intense stress. Therapists and counselors rock – you are the professionals assisting new and existing clients with processing concerns, managing stressors and identifying ways to navigate life. This is a needed tool and you are trained to do the work!

Thank you to places of employment for taking this matter seriously and setting up the infrastructure needed to allow employees to work from home. Your quick response is praiseworthy.

Thank you to all of our educators and school administrators. Your diligence in supplying your students with online and supplemental learning materials during this time is amazing. We appreciate your ability to think outside of the box to ensure that our children are able to continue learning and not miss a beat.

Thank you to those who are working in the post office, grocery stores, restaurant drive-thru windows, Uber / Lyft, grocery / food delivery companies, FedEx / UPS / Amazon, local drug stores, garbage pickup, pharmacies and banks. You are essential and we thank you for your dedication. Thank you for keeping us all going and supplied with necessities during this time.

Thank you to production workers who are behind the scenes. You are the producers of the supplies that we all need to keep on keepin’ on. The items on the grocery stores do not magically appear on the shelves without production workers to produce the items and delivery drivers to transport it to stores.

Thank you to all of the retail outlets and stores that have increased wages for your workers who are working diligently during these tough times! We highlight your ability to display humanity by appreciating the sacrifice made by your employees.

Thank you to police officers and firefighters. You are essential and we thank you.

Thank you to parents who are working from home. It is a challenge to balance work conference / video calls while entertaining children. Parents, you rock! Who knew that you can work, home-school and do chores simultaneously during the workday!

Thank you to all of the artists, entertainers and DJs for taking your talent to social media platforms for the world to see. Your talents are absolutely amazing and we thank you for keeping us entertained and grooving through the tough moments. You have allowed us to connect with friends and enjoy a shared experience with millions online from our couches.

ps– We hope that we have not forgotten anyone. If so, add a comment and we will make updates! We are in a grateful space and want to ensure that no one is forgotten. Hugs!

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk