When I was a guest on the Queen Ifama Show a few weeks ago, she and I discussed the politics of Black breastfeeding, and why it is so important for our community to take a special note on the reasons we need to support each other. They are countless, of course, but she and I focused more on the political aspects. Throughout that hour she continued to mention the ‘psychological bond’ that is built between a woman and her child, and said she wanted to ‘keep re-iterating that!’ I mentioned that a friend of mine who spent time as a social worker and interacting with women and their children, said while visiting these clients a pattern emerged among Black and Native women — that they did not want to breastfeed because they didn’t want to get ‘attached’ to their baby.
I have always looked beyond the practical and mechanical aspects of breastfeeding to delve deeper into the social issues, but I hadn’t explored the areas that Queen Ifama discusses in bonding to this extent. I asked her if she wouldn’t mind sharing her thoughts on this through a video, which is the one she made below, and even though all of it is supportive of this tradition, my emphasis is on the second half — after the practical aspects. Queen Ifama says there is a complete lack of information on nursing — beyond nutrition — and that the comfort that is experienced between mother and child can act as protection throughout our lives. She emphasizes that everything ‘starts at the breast,’ and suggests that bonding is a way to ‘incubate our children,’ and can serve as an agent in helping to restore centuries of psychological damage and other remnants of slavery — like that ‘fear of attachment,’ which I’m sure stems from this era, and I’m just as certain was used as a self-preservation method in the face of being indiscriminately bought and sold. This is all very significant for Black people given our history, and the fact that we continue to live in this racist and oppressive society.