It seems that black women have lost their way when it comes to breastfeeding. According to a new study, over the last 30 years, African-American women have had the lowest breastfeeding rates, and though the numbers have greatly increased in recent years, black moms still have the lowest rates of all ethnicities. And when it comes to the gold standard of infant nutrition — six months of exclusive breastfeeding — among African-Americans, the rate is only 20% compared to 40% among whites, so says Kimberly Seals Allers.
Why are we not giving our infants a healthier start in life?
To get to the bottom of this breastfeeding business, it’s important to go back. Waaay back. A long time ago, black women were notorious for nursing. In fact, slave owners used and purchased black women as wet nurses for their own children, often forcing these mothers to stop nursing their own infants to care for others. “On the one hand, wet nursing claimed the benefits of breastfeeding for the offspring of white masters while denying or limiting those health advantages to slave infants.