“When Black women breastfeed, they are reversing narratives, reclaiming traditions that were taken from them, countering stereotypes, and reestablishing the infant feeding norm in our communities,” is a quote from Kimberly Seals Allers, co-founder of Black Breastfeeding Week. It not only sums up the depth of what it means to breastfeed in Black communities, but also the impact that Black Breastfeeding Week — August 25 through August 31 — can create for future generations.
There was a time when our ancestors didn’t have a say over whether or not they would breastfeed their babies. Instead, they had to nurse their enslavers’ infants while some of their own starved.
Because of this, the history of breastfeeding in Black culture is layered with trauma, and miseducation that’s led generations to pass down an inherent resistance to nursing. In many Black households, breastfeeding wasn’t normalized and we lacked adequate education from lactation consultants who looked like us and shared or understood the bias in maternal health care that exists. Black Breastfeeding Week, created in 2013, carries the mission of closing the racial disparity gap in breastfeeding and inspiring more diversity in lactation consulting.
During this time, Black moms are not only encouraged to breastfeed and educated on the benefits, we celebrate the right to have the choice to do so openly and freely.
The act of feeding our Black babies from our Black bodies is Black joy and something to revel in.
Here are some other quotes, like Allers’, by other Black breastfeeding advocates that represent the challenges, joy, and pride of the Black breastfeeding journey.
Quotes for Black Breastfeeding Week
- “For Black women, breastfeeding is an act of revolution.” — Black Tzedek
- “Cuddling with your baby and playing relaxing music can significantly reduce stress levels, creating a greater chance of increasing milk volume.” — Black Breastfeeding Mamas
- "I think a lot of people think you're just supposed to have this natural instinct that's supposed to happen out of thin air. There's a technique to learn and if you don't know it, it's not your fault." — Alicia Keys
- “One of the most highly effective preventive measures a mother can take to protect her child and her own health is to breastfeed.” — Regina M. Benjamin
- “As natural and as wonderful as breastfeeding is, it is not so easy… Every woman needs the support for the choice to breastfeed.” — Tonya Lewis Lee
- “I can’t control what’s in formula, but I can control what goes into my body. I have never been so health conscious in my life! It all started with nursing and making sure what I was putting into my body wouldn’t seep into my milk.” — Tamera Mowry-Housely
- “I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about breastfeeding, but quickly realized its brilliance.” — Kelis
- “Breastfeeding is an act of resistance, a salve for generational trauma.” — State of the Mother
- “Chocolate milk for chocolate babies!” — Brittany Fadiora, Certified Lactation Consultant and Doula
- “Black Breastfeeding Week isn’t about separation or segregation. It’s about supporting, spotlighting, and magnifying the voices of Black mothers and their children. As well as the generations of people who have been, and are currently, negatively impacted by systemic lack of support, provider bias, and other cultural barriers.” — A Mother’s Village
- Milk does a body good, and if you can make it yourself, then why not?” — Phaedra Parks
- “You can breastfeed even if your mother, your sister, your aunt, and your friends couldn’t.” — Dr. San, OB-GYN
- “I imagine my ancestors, whose babies were ripped from their arms, who were forced to nurture the babies of their kidnappers, would be so proud to see me breastfeeding my boys today.” — State of the Mother
- “Breastfeeding takes back my power and my autonomy over my body as a Black woman. A power and autonomy that was stolen from my ancestors.” — Caroline J. Sumlin
- “For Black women, breastfeeding creates sisterhood and community as we develop peer models of support where larger systems have failed us.” — Kimberly Seals Allers
Breastfeeding can be hard, especially with some of the barriers we face. But you got this and you’re not alone — especially during Black Breastfeeding Week.