What I’m (Planning On) Reading :: Do Black Lesbians Breastfeed?

‘Black Lesbian’ symbol coined by Eileen M. Hayes
Ref: Songs in Black and Lavender: Race, Sexual Politics and Women’s Music. University of Illinois Press. 2010.

I just signed up to take an independent study on Black lesbians. And I’m so super excited about it! 

You all know that a few months back I posted an inquiry about Black LGBTQ breastfeeders and Black LGBTQ breastfeeding supporters to ‘Come Out’ — meaning, I have been wondering and questioning why there is such an invisibility among this group. I have been really curious to know why is it (besides the hetero, cis, Protestant, patriarchal structure, of course, I believe) that when I search the web hoping to find anything about a Black lesbian/dyke/queer/homosexual/same gender loving woman and her unique experience with this identity and nursing story, Google only feeds me links to adult websites. Or, why is it that despite the large effort on the part of so many breastfeeding advocates concerned with Black life do we only see and hear about a linear perspective which causes people to think that breastfeeding promotion only is lacking because white women dominate the sphere — which is how someone responded recently when I  expressed my disappointment with this veiled promotion. Now you know that I know that whiteness plays a large role in breastfeeding inequity — and in social inequity overall, that’s not even a category up for debate. But I think the story can be read a bit deeper. To me it appears that even people in the Black LGBTQ don’t want to discuss it in a more visible context — at least that’s what it seems like at the surface. I know it’s complicated to weave together all of the reasons why it appears so non-existent, but I think there is a reason why I have never found one single piece of scholarship exclusively discussing the topic at hand. I could be totally wrong, looking in the wrong places for all of this — or looking from an incorrect angle, which is absolutely possible.

I’m not jumping on this bandwagon that looks at this group because it’s the ‘cool’ and the ‘in’ thing to do these days. I truly believe (and I hope that you will agree with me), that in order to get any type of real grasp on breastfeeding and disparities among the Black community, it requires looking through as many cultural lenses as we can to get a larger, more all-encompassing picture to formulate new ways to work towards our cause and move away from what in my own opinion looks like a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. This is why I plan on leaving no stone unturned — or, at least it is why I am going to make my best effort to look under as many of them as I can, whether I’m discussing Black lesbians and breastfeeding or anything else related to this subject.

**My independent study prof told me to start off by looking for articles and literature and gathering citations on Black Feminist Thought/Theory, Black lesbians and heath disparities, and Black lesbian women and reproductive labor (family formation, child rearing, etc), since this is a way to begin by looking at a larger picture for specific evidence. For this course, my assignment will be to construct an annotated bibliography which lists titles of articles and a small bit of information for each one. I think it is such a necessary starting point in order to find out who has written about what and to guide me on my future research for this information. If you find links to articles, book titles, journals or such about the topic at hand that you want to send my way, then by all means please do. And, if you identify as Black or African American, Afro-LGBTQ and anywhere along a ‘non gender, sexuality conforming’ spectrum and want to share your own story or perspective about breastfeeding in the Blog Carnival that’s soon to go on around here (you don’t have to have or have nursed a child in order to participate) then read the post below and send me your work!


‘Black Lesbians: An Annotated Bibliography’. Naiad Press, 1981.

BTW, I just ordered the text above from an online bookstore. It’s an annotated bibliography from 1981 with nearly 350 citations on Black lesbians (all compiled by a white lesbian, fyi). I figure this is akin to a small jackpot because I’m certain to find what I’m looking for on breastfeeding and/or motherhood in here — at least something that leads me on my way. And if I don’t, then I just don’t know what to say.

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