Thursday, February 28, 2013

DR. STANFORD IS (not so far from being) IN THE HOUSE! Final Education Score: Master’s, 2, PhD, 1 #JustCallMeProfessorHIJKLMNOP

“Last July, I walked on stage in front of a large audience. I was an invited speaker, asked to share my perspective at a summit at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, organized by ROSE (Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere), a grassroots coalition founded to raise awareness of breastfeeding among Black and African American women. My objective that day was to give a 30-minute presentation on ways to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration rates among this group, who statistically continue to rank lowest of any demographic in our nation, and whose increase could effectively help thwart the staggering infant mortality rate that plagues this community. As I stood behind the podium and looked onto the crowd, which consisted of lay and professional healthcare advocates, community activists and many other officials from local and nationwide, including the 16th U.S. Surgeon General, I told them that in order to eradicate the lengthy list of health disparities linked to these low breastfeeding rates we must cease focusing on Black women who breastfeed. Instead, look past these protagonists, and recognize the unique and complex history of Black women in this country and enlist the help of anyone interested in challenging socio-political inequity, structural violence and cultural insularity, all which are situated at the center, and all hinder an infant’s access to its mother’s breast. This was a significant shift in the way breastfeeding advocacy and promotion has been viewed as a tradition.”

Remember a little while back when I said I was busier than life and I’d let on to what was going on around here soon enough? Well, I was engaged in what felt like an unyielding application of school and fellowship applications, (the first paragraph of my Statement of Purpose is above, because I just thought I’d share. I used my experience speaking at ROSE Breastfeeding Summit, to set the tone. And I’m sure the fact that the Surgeon General was in the audience didn’t hurt with the decision). But without further ado…..


Just the other day I received notification that I was accepted into the renowned Sociocultural Anthropology PhD program, after I opened my email and viewed the fancy schmancy letter – well, here, let me read it to you:

Ahem – *Clears throat*

Dear Acquanda Y. Stanford (that’s me ;)

Dear Acquanda Y. Stanford:

We are pleased to inform you that the Sociocultural Anthropology Graduate Program in the Department of Anthropology has admitted you…. Our faculty, staff and students join me in welcoming you to one of the most prestigious, progressive universities in the United States…. This is a very competitive program and many applicants with impressive backgrounds apply…. Please contact me if you have any further questions…. We look forward to hearing from you.

The Anthropology Department is well-known for its rigorous curriculum, which I am SO thankful for. I love challenging environments, and being worked in school. And not to boast or anything, seriously, but it is an extremely difficult program to get into. But I still think it’s crazy insane I am about to enter a PhD program, since I initially never ever planned on it. When I was in community college I remember my instructor one day said to me (though I don’t really remember the exact subject at hand) “You’ll see when you teach anthropology….” This is the same one who gave me the extra push to actually apply to this program, and the one who previously introduced me to the idea of a concurrent PhD and Master’s of Public Health degree, which I will also be pursing, along with a certificate in Feminist Studies.

I want to teach – to transform – and create a reciprocal learning environment that opens up the doors for radical social change. That’s my goal. And pursuing a doctoral degree will qualify me to do so at the university level, which is my ultimate endeavor. But I also want to continue to engage people in the public sphere. This is also the reason I feel my education is a double-edged sword. In some ways I believe it may hinder my access to the communities I most want to serve. Yet my reasons for even attending school is that I recognized that in order to ‘use the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house’ I would need to equip myself with what it takes to combat these issues – in various ranks. That’s why I’m here.

What will my research focus on? Bet you’d never guess in a million years, right?! As far as I know I am the only Black woman in this country with an anthropology background who focuses on this area and the Black experience. Using the tools of anthropology, I want to construct the larger framework around Black breastfeeding. Breastfeeding extends far beyond a baby on a breast, and it requires critical attention to areas of gender, race, class, geographic location, history and much, much more. I want to delve deep into the issues of power and dominance, culture and biology, female and community agency, language and our knowledge of the past and present and view this area through various lenses that encompass critical social theories. I believe that “this biological site can serve as a gateway to underpin a new set of theoretical questions that can complicate our thinking and allow for the expansion of knowledge on ideas of community engagement, globalization, global health and disparities, maternal-infant health and various others with research that will evolve and syncretize local, national, and global processes, expanding perspectives not previously explored.” Sorry, that’s just another small clip from my Statement of Purpose. *smile*

I also am ready to continue transforming this discipline. I absolutely believe that an anthropological approach is key to addressing many issues that face our society, and its tools can be used to create radical and revolutionary change and positively transform. But I also know that it has a long and sordid history of participating in colonialism and exclusion and racial and gender exclusivity, but there have been many who have worked effortlessly to challenge this legacy. I'm thrilled to carry the torch.

When all is said and done, where I always urge people to disregard the hierarchy and ensure everyone has a say, and used a string of letters of the alphabet to mock our reliance on formal education, which I believe can too often keep people from truly engaging each other, I really will be Professor HIJKLMNOP. I will have a zillion and one initials behind my name that if you ask me, is actually kinda creepy. But still not so bad for a H.S. dropout, eh?! Thankfully this area is one that allows for academic activism, and using education to lift and liberate because I really do love what I do. And I’m so, so thrilled about what lies ahead.

This image provides an excellent depiction of the type of educator I aspire to be!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

FOUR Conferences, THREE Presentations, two babies on my knee, and a Black HERstory Twitter Party #BlkBfing

I think this will read like more of a newsletter-type-ish post than an actual 'post' 'post'. Partially because well, I'm a bit busy these days -- I'm slammed with projects I need to work on, plus my little sister is out of town visiting family, so I have her three children which I'm helping to get off to school, making lunches, helping do homework, etc, while their dad is at work. My one-year-old great nephew is also over for a Valentine's visit, and since my sister usually babysits her sister-in-law's baby -- another one-year-old, while his mom goes to work, I'm helping watch him, too. And they are both sitting - one on each of my knees as I try and type this =D. I did, however, want to put some updates out there just to let on with a few things happening in my world and in the Black breastfeeding world around.

ROSE Breastfeeding Coalition just sent out their 'Save The Date' email for their 2013 Summit in Atlanta, to address Black women's breastfeeding disparities. It will be held on August 8-9, and the theme this year is Organizing for Action: Building the Surgeon General's Call to Action to Address Disparities and Strengthen  Support Systems, though I'm not sure what venue it will be held in. I want to make sure you can mark your calendar. I hope I'm able to attend this year. I had such a great time speaking at the last one. ROSE has also partnered with Moms Rising and the United States Breastfeeding Committee for a Blog Carnival in honor of Black History Month. If you missed that post, which was published last week, just scroll down for all of the details. I really hope you can submit something.

A few days after that, on the 27th at 9 pm EST, these organizations along with Sojourner Marable Grimmet, co-founder of the breastfeeding advocacy organization Table for Two, and daughter of the late and fabulously great Manning Marable (whose wife is anthropologist, Leith Mullings, btw), will be hosting a National Breastfeeding Making HERstory Twitter Party to 'discuss the importance of breastfeeding and increasing African American rates.' The flyer is above (click on the image to enlarge), and if you're on facebook, you can RSVP. Make sure you use the hashtag #BlkBfing. I'm @LactationJrny.

Also, a flyer about a conference in Detroit, MI, just came through my email. Innovations in Breastfeeding Support Seminar 2013 is hosted by Black Mothers' Breastfeeding Association (BMBFA), and is 'to inform healthcare professionals on innovative solutions that address the cultural road blocks in breastfeeding support for African Americans.' Here's the event page, where you can register. You can contact the founder of BMBFA, Kiddada Green via email or you can call her:  (800) 313-6141 ext. 2, to get more info.

I'll be presenting at the Inequity in Breastfeeding Support Summit -- aka the racism, white privilege and power conference happening here this June. I think the really good thing about this is that it is open to anyone -- lay and professionals and anyone else interested in supporting breastfeeding. I'll periodically post info about it so keep an eye out, but also know that you can join the Summit's Facebook Like Page, if you want to stay in the know.

And lastly, I'm preparing for the Breastfeeding and (Black) Feminism Symposium in North Carolina. I'm really looking forward to this, not only because it's specifically a conference on breastfeeding and Black Feminism, a couple of my favorite subjects, but I've seen the agenda, and the other workshops and what others are presenting on, and I can't wait to hear them. At first I thought I was giving my presentation only one time, but as it turns out I'll be giving two 20-minute presentations. I'll be presenting the same content, but at two different times, so it's twice as nice. My presentations are called Reorganizing the Village: Viewing Black Breastfeeding Support Through a Black Feminist Framework, and I'll be giving a short account on the history of Black Feminism, and the ways to get more community members involved in with advocacy -- the greater community. I love any chance I get to discuss this. My bestie also lives over there so I'm super duper excited about seeing her, her family and a few others, who I haven't seen in over four years.

I created a chip in for this event -- at the UNC. As of yet, I don't keep a static 'donate' button on my site, but my spiel is the same when I'm responsible for the tab -- I created the chip in to allow anyone interested in helping to offset the charges from this event. I'm not hooked up with a large organization, and I don't receive grants from the government. My breastfeeding work is done largely independently, so the help of my community is only what will allow me to continue this important work. Please consider supporting these great efforts by chip(ping) in, and maybe sharing the link. Anything helps, and thank you for consideration.

Through the remainder of February, anyone who donates $20.00+, will get a free seat to May's Radical Breastfeeding Webinar!

And now to tend to my children. Over the next two weeks, I'll have two one-year-old babies, a pre-teen, one nine year old, and a seven year old.


Happy Valentine's Day. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

I LOVE BEING A (RADICAL) DOULA: Radical Doula Profiles - Me!

I'M OFFICIALLY A RADICAL DOULA! The Radical Doula has a series that profiles those who identify with the term. Even though I'm a brand spanking newbie here on the birth scene, and for a longest time even refused to label myself a 'radical,' I couldn't escape the inevitable, so I submitted my Info. Here's an excerpt from the profile that came through my facebook feed:
"I identify with ‘radical’ because it means that I work to dismantle a system of injustice instead of simply recycling the power structure, and spitting it out as progress...I see the injustice in breastfeeding and birth and countless others, that are infused with racism, white supremacy, and various interlocking forms of oppression that have shaped the way Black women, women of color, and many continue to be marginalized and I’m not afraid to challenge them."
But I don't want to spoil it all for you. So I'll just give you the link and you can visit the full profile. Go on. Read it!

By the way, that picture is sideways because it was copied like that from another place I had it online, and I have been meaning to get around to rotating it for forever. I may do so one day before it gets copied again. Or maybe I won't. Perhaps we can just call it 'character'. =D

“If indeed we wish to be radical in our quest for change, then we must get to the root of our oppression. After all, radical simply means grasping things at the root.” - Angela Davis

HERstory, Breastfeeding Blog Request #BlkBFing

In honor of Black History Month, ROSE (Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere), United States Breastfeeding Committee, and Mom Rising are hosing a blog carnival. I haven't decided if I'm going to submit a post yet. I've already got some serious writing to do.... But I want to put this out there for anyone who may be interested. 

Below is a repost from the ROSE Breastfeeding Coalition website, and there are others floating out there as well. I think it will be so great to see what everyone has to say regarding breastfeeding. Even if I don't submit, I'll definitely be reading along, so let me know if yours is one of them!

Happy Black H(er)(is)tory Month.


Please email the following to Jane by Friday, February 22nd and copy Anita.

• Your name and email address
• Your headshot
• Your Twitter handle if you have one
• The title of your post
• The text of your post
• If possible, consider adding a photo or image to accompany your text with the photo’s credit. We find that photos and images help blog posts get shared around the Internet.
• If your blog post has been published previously, please include the URL to receive credit. Also please include a few sentences about why you want to share this post for this particular blog carnival.

Please feel free to visit this link

The more blog posts, the merrier (and the bigger the impact we’ll have overall). So in addition to submitting your own blog post, if you know anyone else who may like to participate, feel free to share this invitation with them.

TIMELINE: The blog carnival will be published on Tuesday, February 26th. We are accepting blog posts starting now – the earlier the better.

The deadline for submitting your blog post is Friday, February 22nd at 5:00 p.m. PST. Blog posts submitted after the February 22nd deadline may be added to the blog carnival slightly later. We are happy to tweet a link to your post anytime!

MomsRising will promote your blog post, as part of our blog carnival, via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. In addition, numerous other partners will be tweeting and re-posting on their respective organizations’ blogs or social media pages/accounts. We estimate that our blog and social media reach alone extends to more than 3.5 million readers. Below this email, you’ll find more information on blog carnivals and how you can participate. However, even if you can’t participate at this time, feel free to forward this email to friends you think might be interested.

TWITTER CHAT: Also on February 27th, the co-organizers will hold a Twitter chat at hashtag #BlkBFing to highlight this multifaceted conversation about breastfeeding and Black History month. Please join us!


WHAT’S A BLOG CARNIVAL? A blog carnival is an online action that aims to utilize the growing power of our combined reach on social media (blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest) to jumpstart – and jump into! – a national conversation. This “Blk BFing: Making HERstory” blog carnival will have blog posts ranging from the personal to the political, in a range of mediums, from text to video. MomsRising and co-organizers will collect and publish the individual blog posts. The links to all posts will then be gathered into one overarching post that will serve to host and introduce the blog carnival. In addition, MomsRising will amplify all posts on our Facebook site and with tweets from the MomsRising Twitter account @MomsRising using the hashtag #BlkBFing

BLOG PROMOTIONS – When the blog carnival is published on February 26th, each post will be tweeted with the hashtag #BlkBFing. Selected posts will be published on the hosting organizations’ Facebook pages. We encourage all blog carnival participants to join our members in retweeting our tweets and re-sharing our Facebook posts.

WHAT’S A TWITTER CHAT? A Twitter chat is a scheduled gathering of people on Twitter to discuss or promote a mutual topic of interest, using a #hashtag to keep track of the conversation. On Wednesday, February 27th, the “Blk BFing: Making HERstory” Twitter chat will take place with the hashtag #BlkBfing. To participate, search for #BlkBfing and join in the tweeting!

Past blog carnival example: Making School Foods Healthier