Thursday, May 20, 2010

Breastfeeding A Black Child Is Offensive

Who could forget all of the attention that Salma Hayek attracted last year when she breastfed a baby during a goodwill trip to Sierra Leone. In my corner of the blogosphere she was lauded. The mainstream media covered the story extensively, complete with polls on whether or not readers would breastfeed another woman's child. The coverage actually made me a bit giddy. Not only was breastfeeding being covered in a positive way, but cross-nursing was being discussed and for the most part, no one was saying it was gross! Almost every woman polled said they would indeed nurse another woman's baby if it was hungry and Salma was looked at as doing a good deed. A famous actress selfless enough to give to a baby what his own mother could not? The blissed out look on that hungry baby's face as he nursed? It was an amazing moment for me, as a mom, a blogger and a breastfeeding advocate.

But now Salma is speaking out publicly about the backlash she faced privately. She's on the cover of this month's In Style magazine and during the interview she says she was surprised by how much attention the breastfeeding got. She is quoted as saying:
“This baby was hungry and I was still nursing [my daughter] Valentina, so I fed the child. What was shocking were the hate letters I received. What offended some in particular was that I breastfed a black child. It was not even in my universe, such a thought. For me, it was a baby who was just born and was hungry. He was healthy but malnourished at this hospital – it was really just a clinic in the countryside – and I was able to help."

So some folks could look past the cross-nursing, but just couldn't wrap their minds around breastfeeding a black child. The act of breastfeeding a black baby was so offensive that they had to put pen to paper and let Ms. Hayak know just how much this bothered them. I mean, how dare she let a black baby suckle her breast!

And yet some will still insist that we live in a post-racial world where we no longer see color and racism no longer exists.

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