“In the past 365 days I have documented a wide range of very peaceful, loving, and joyous moments among the mothers who, statistically, are less likely to initiate breastfeeding after birth…,” Vanessa Simmons, the leader of Normalize Breastfeeding stated.
Vanessa Simmons, an African-American woman, has taken it upon herself to prove critics wrong and bridge the gap of the disparity between white nursing mothers and that of their Black counterparts while encouraging good breastfeeding habits among Black women. A San Diego photographer, whose passion is to hearten African-American women to practice good and exclusive breastfeeding despite the intense systematic barriers in the country, undertook a nationwide tour to create awareness among the women of the community.
Simmons seeks to promote awareness to breastfeeding through photography. She initiated a nationwide tour in 2014 tagged ‘Normalize Breastfeeding.’
This year, the photographer and crusader have launched a Black Breastfeeding Week which was slated for August 25th -31st. This week-long celebration was arranged to breach the racial disparity in the rate of breastfeeding, which has been increasing over the last 40 years. A report by CDC shows that 75% of white women have ever breastfed compared to 58.9% of Black women.
Some vital reasons, which necessitated the BBW include the high rate of diet-related diseases among Black children and increasing rate of Infant mortality. Other motives behind the awareness are to create diversity in the lactation field, tackle the cultural barriers associated with breastfeeding and also provide breastfeeding support to Black women.
Simmons in a way of celebrating the BBW has put together beautiful photos of Black women breastfeeding their babies. She has toured over seven states since the inception of her campaign.
Disclosing her motivation, she said, “In the past 365 days I have documented a wide range of very peaceful, loving, and joyous moments among the mothers who, statistically, are less likely to initiate breastfeeding after birth, less likely to breastfeed exclusively for a minimum of 6 months, and are less likely to breastfeed for the entirety of infancy, a recommended two-year minimum according to the World Health Organization. Yet these mothers that I have photographed, like myself, have actually accomplished so much more.”
She finally urged Black women on by saying, “Yes, we do this. Black mothers do breastfeed. We even breastfeed babies past one year of age!”
This is a typical example of a brave Black change-maker. Her action needs to be applauded and commended. Black mothers have to fight against bias and stereotypes on a daily basis, but they fight for the future of their children and they need support. Besides that, Vanessa Simmons made a great contribution into the creation of the positive image of African-American women.
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