Thursday, November 24, 2011

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Thanks + Giving: Holiday Thoughts From A Future IBCLC

I try to avert celebrating Thanksgiving! I have trouble with a tradition that paved the way for the horrendous acts against cultures -- something that still happens today with people whose voices are continuously silenced. A story that has been pitched as a peaceful conjoining of groups, when usurpation, genocide, and colonialism is the backdrop. And let's not forget the white savior image -- something no one ever questions.

But sometimes when I oppose these things it leaves me feeling isolated from my friends and family by not "just joining in". This is also why I emphasized the word try because it usually winds up that I find myself sitting around the table -- because I just want to be with my family. But is it really just a time to spend time with family? Enjoying good food and company? A friend suggested I try and 'redefine' this day and give thanks for the reasons I am thankful. Well, I don't know how well redefinition can work, but I have no problem stating what I'm thankful for, and have decided to do this -- in the future IBCLC sort of way.

Today (and everyday), I am thankful I was drawn to the area of infant feeding. Despite the fact that I have no children and have never breastfed, the need for more proponents of mother's milk humbled me by choosing me as a representative, and everyday I am made more aware of why. I am thankful I followed my heart.

I am thankful I am working towards becoming an International Board of Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)!! IBCLC services are priceless in their ability to provide information and help women increase their milk supply, learn proper breastfeeding techniques, answer questions, diagnose ailments, and a lengthy list of benefits for infant feeding and care -- especially assisting women who may become discouraged.

I am thankful I have a pool of resources at my fingertips and there are countless women on twitter and facebook who are constantly posting breastfeeding information and articles, facts, myths and stories that I continuously soak up! I am thankful I can make comments, joke, and even scratch my head and ask questions at some things, too! I am thankful they are always willing to share their personal journeys with me.

I am thankful that earlier this year I became a member of the Indiana Black Breastfeeding Coalition -- something I never imagined. The coalition's focus is to "Encourage the African American community to support women in their breastfeeding choice and efforts," and I am overjoyed to be a part of such an organization. I am thankful that the founder, who is an IBCLC, is always willing to 'check in' on me and share information to help in my endeavor.

I am thankful I am beginning to work with other state and local coalitions.

I am thankful I grew up in a family where nursing a child is the cultural norm, and that my grandmother, my mother, and all of my sisters breastfed  -- which in itself is powerful and set the foundation for my personal understanding of its importance.

I am thankful for YouTube, and its millions of educational and instructional videos -- many on breast care and infant feeding.

I am thankful I am a Black woman venturing into a field where the need for more racial diversity is dire, and my presence alone can encourage and increase breastfeeding rates among other members of my community!

I am thankful I am making an effort to look at the whole woman, and not simply her infant-feeding techniques, trying my best to not contribute to "Excuse-Like" excuses.

I am also thankful that I have an outlet to express all of this information and document my journey, which provides an avenue for critique and the gathering of different perspectives.

Finally, I am thankful I studied Cultural Anthropology!! While I believe there are many ways to positively impact this area and different angles are helpful and appreciated, I am thankful that my understanding of anthropology allows me to add another dimension to my outlook and complicates the way I practice and produce information in this area.

So I give thanks, myself, and my best -- to raise awareness, to represent those who are underrepresented, and to help end the long list of social and health disparities that exist -- especially in communities Of Color. Breastfeeding helps save lives!

Yes, I am very happy to be part of this!