Last week was the first ever National Anthropology Day. The poster above is the one I made for the celebration we had on campus to show those who attended — there were many posters on display for this day. I also gave a worksop titled ‘Discovering African American Anthropology,’ and talked along the lines on the history of Black people in the discipline — how anthropology has such a racist foundation, but how Black people used anthropology to challenge it and create social justice. I think it went well. I could tell that there were many folks who had no idea about this history — some came up to me afterwards and told me, some emailed me. I also talked briefly about why I’m interested in Black breastfeeding and what I believe the significance is overall.
Here’s what the poster says:
What is the relationship between history, geography, race and breastfeeding? Are there any links to Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad, Nat Turner’s revolt, Malcolm X’s speeches, the Civil Rights and Black Power movements and the now-infamous ‘Black Lives Matter’ slogan to Black women’s breastfeeding? I believe the answer is ‘Yes!’
My research focuses on Black breastfeeding in the U.S. I am interested in understanding how this biological function is linked to various ways Black people have worked to resist social oppression and wage radical resistance from colonial times to the present. The gap that exists in breastfeeding for Black people means we remain compromised in this country, with increased risks of various illnesses for mother and baby, as well as other factors, including social, environmental and psychological trauma. I am a Black feminist anthropologist, and use this lens in order to understand how breastfeeding is experienced by Black people as a whole, with the hopes of assisting others in eradicating this inequity, and also transforming how our society views this natural function and get more Black babies to the breast.