I love Bingo! I have since I was a kid, and could play this game for hours. I usually play no less than several rounds at the family picnic each Summer, hosted by the company my brother-n-law works for. True story. I love the game and they give out great winning prizes. What can I say? J
I was inspired to create the bingo card below, after the idea came from viewing the ways other people have used the famous game to get messages across. I think it is a perfect opportunity to share the way I view structural barriers to breastfeeding for Black women, and the Black community (what stands in the way — and grasp things at the root), and what I discuss during my presentations, along with what I believe are ways we can work towards solutions. Understand that there is only so much room on this single card; and it doesn’t even begin to touch on practical matters — infant tongue tie, fussy baby, thrush, for example.
This is not to say that Black women don’t have agency — that Black women who don’t breastfeed are nothing more than mindless and oppressed and don’t know what they’re doing or what’s best for their own situations. I don’t think that at all. Nor am I saying that those who do never face any social barriers, or don’t occupy a social position where they feel these less than others. But I’m looking in on it through a more structural framework — a larger picture than zeroing in on one Black woman, 10 or even 100. And what I am saying is that breastfeeding is more than simply the mechanical steps of attaching an infant to its mother’s breast. If Black women have the lowest initiation and duration rates of any group in the country — and who are coincidentally disproportionately affected by strategic and systematically crafted structures, which are part of a continued legacy of the most sordid US history, then it is not by chance. If we want to start hearing more about an infant’s access to its mother’s breast and all of the goodness that comes with that, then we need to look at breastfeeding through a more critical and holistic lens. And talk less about the infant and its mother’s breast and more about the issues that are situated between the two. And find ways to challenge these issues.
I hope you play a round or more of Radical Black Breastfeeding Bingo. And while you are immersed in your game, ask yourself just how you support these structures — because you know you do. We all do, somehow.