Thursday, March 28, 2013

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Acquanda + Women's History Month + Wombanist Views Radio

If you missed the Wombanist Views Radio Show today, I've embedded it below. How awesome it was to be invited to be a guest during Women's History Month, to discuss the "efforts in breastfeeding advocacy and the cultural implications and why it is an important health concern." Whenever I'm involved in any type of public speaking on breastfeeding, I always hope to at least convey a few critical issues about community engagement and participation. Hopefully this was able to raise some awareness around these important issues. Of course there's also a zillion and one other things I would have liked to discuss, but of course one can only get so much in in 30 minutes.

You'll have to forgive my bit of nervousness -- which, is the reason I kept saying 'absolutely' and also flubbed a couple other times :OI. Also, I'm still getting over a cold, so excuse the grogginess. But other than that, let's talk about it.

  Listen to internet radio with
     Wombanist Views on Blog Talk Radio

Update: I went back and listened to this, and like before would like to add a few extra words, and make sure I clear a few things up:
  1. Breastfeeding is not the answer to all of our problems, and hope I did not come off with this belief. Like I've said before: Breastfeeding is not a 'fix-all' button! I believe breastfeeding can and does help avert illness, infant mortality as well as offer many other benefits even on a local and global level, but I am unsure if I came across as suggesting if we just breastfeed then all health and social ills associated with a lack of tradition will simply disappear. I have not, do not, nor will I ever subscribe to this.
  2. Every woman in my family has breastfed. But like the rap artist who rhymed about "B-Fing -- The most beautifullest, natruallest and heallthiest thing..  I ain't gonna front like they ain't seen a bottle." I grew up around breastfeeders -- some exclusive, but I ain't gonna front like our babies have never seen a bottle or have never used infant formula. And I'm sorry if I came off with the impression otherwise. 
Oh, and just a small sidenote: I think the Whitney Houston music is awesome! That song is often in the cue and listened to when I'm out taking my walks, because it's upbeat and make me feel good. And it's such a perfect tune for the theme this month!

I'm getting my PhD because I'm a 'minority' and the university needs to fill a quota!

Yep. She said it! But you knew this was coming, right?! This came from the same woman who told me she could care less about MLK Day because it does not impact her. Well, her 'words of wisdom' this time was that the university I'm entering this Fall needed to fill a quota, which is why I was accepted.

Initially, my plan was to put together an extremely long and drawn out angry Black Feminist post about what she said, and criticize this racist ideology. But then I figured why even bother. This isn't anything new; we've all heard it before, and this won't be the last. So to be honest, I don't really know why I'm writing about it now. In my experience, whites have usually conveyed this belief through some stupid display of a laughter, after the fact -"Hey, *insert employment place, educational institution, etc* needed to fill a quota. That's why you're there. Ha Ha!" But that didn't happen this time. And I think that's what sets this scene apart from others. Said white woman genuinely believed she was being encouraging; that I should be thankful for her 'insight' because she honestly believed was cheering me on.

If you look at my educational background before returning to school as an adult, I wasn't exactly the most likely person one would project to enter into a doctoral program -- especially this one that is extremely difficult to get into. I didn't have an ideal academic background, by far, and perhaps it was the lengthy amount of time I quit high school that gave way to this assumption. That that, along with my 'incapable' Black self, if the university needed to do some charity work, then hey, pick me, right?! And maybe what she said may hold some weight. But this all happened before I took myself back to school and showed up to class, and sat on the front seat so I wouldn't be distracted. That statement may also have been valid before I took time to get extra assistance if I needed it, and even took classes in areas I made sure I was completely unfamiliar with, to expand my horizons, and challenge myself. This was before I stayed in my professor's office, asking questions about things I was unsure of and before I made the local Dean's List, the international Dean's List, and then the International Honor Society. This was before graduating with honors, and speaking at conferences, blogging, getting some of my work published, receiving glowing recommendations from my professors who know my work first-hand, leading discussion groups -- and before the zillion of other things universities look for when reviewing applications, including my desire to expand my knowledge as a scholar, have already constructed my own hypothesis around my research focus, want to contribute more information to the field, and have been working with communities for positive social change, before going through this program to continue my work, and becoming a university educator myself, then maybe she may have a point.

Look, I know I didn't get anywhere by myself. I don't have a steadfast belief in meritocracy -- that I (or anyone else) accomplished everything alone. There have been plenty of folks in my corner, cheering me on and extending their hand when I need it, because they believed in me and my endeavor. But this is not about that. And I feel a bit selfish and maybe self-centered focusing on my personal incident with this white woman, as something that was directed at me alone. The issue is by far larger than someone believing the school is dishing out charity work. This is the attitude that remains pervasive in this society, where whites continue to believe they are far superior, and are entitled to the 'cream of the crop,' and part of their white privilege means 'helping' us out a little.

Said white woman left out that wee little part about us living in a society that values white people. And that because of this continued legacy white people dominate institutions, workplaces, universities, and most other areas. That also stemming form this, the belief that People Of Color aren't really worthy of anything - because that legacy has made white people believe they are far more qualified than anyone else and us 'minorities' (I hate that word, btw), don't have the mental capacity to comprehend much, (Sadly, even some POC have subscribed to this). We're looked on as zombie-like creatures, unable to think for ourselves so we need those 'leftover' opportunities 'handed' to us. In this racist society, where a Black person learning to read was once punishable by death, and so many communities of color have been subjected to even losing generations of traditional wisdom, this attitude continues to shape the minds of white people's belief in their supposed inherent superiority. Getting anywhere or anything for no other reason than white skin, is a ratio of 99 to 1, no doubt. I didn't even get in sexism. Or any other ism and phobia, for that matter, that shapes countless experiences and continues to underscore discrimination. Pft.


For who? To keep white people shuffled through the door, in order to maintain the status quo?


For 'Others'? 


Some of us actually have to work!

I'll be laughing all the way through my dissertation.

An LGBTQ #BFing Giveaway! (Closed)

From Professor HIJKLMNOP!

I think it was getting out of the house the other day and seeing some friends that put me in a better mood (and I have to say a slightly silly one) than I had been in over the past few days -- you know, with the Black enmity, and all. What also helped was watching these guys, who had me cracking up so hard my belly ached -- so I decided to have a small giveaway! I created this pinback for the Anti 'Breast Is Best' Shop, since I didn't really see anything out there denoting LGBTQ breastfeeding -- so I just got a little creative and made something myself! The picture looks huge, but this one here is a 1¼ inch pinback, and really, really cute. Just read the details below to enter. 

Leave a comment on this post by next Tuesday and it will count as your entry. All names will be entered with a winner selected at random via, and announced in next week's blog post. Leave your email address with your comment: yourname (at) emailserver {dot} com, net, etc. Winner must respond within 24 hours, or another will be selected. This giveaway is for one pinback, and is open to U.S and international participants. 

If you appreciate giveaways on the Lactation Journey Blog, please consider donating $1.00 USD, in order to help me offset the shipping & handling charges I incur to bring these to you. Thank you in advance for any consideration.

Update: There were several of you who said you were unable to leave comments on this post, in order to enter. I am so sorry about that. I contacted the comment system disqus, who said things seem to be working OK. I am not sure if there was a glitch in the system but don't worry -- I'll have another giveaway soon. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Word(less words) Wednesday: Pictures Prospective Students Take #2! "and my breasts feed these kings"

I have to be honest with you that I don't remember exactly what this is called. All 
I know is that when I went to visit the Anthropology Department last week, outside 
of my advisor's door is this multi-layered collage of Africa/n Culture. 
I remember the professor said something about seeing Africa and African people for 
who they are and what it is, and not simply the exoticized place that is often in many 
of our imaginations. It also has something to do with working with HIV/AIDS.
But among this insanely awesome and extremely educational and representational
creation, with three or four layers of imagery
It never fails, that my eyes seem to somehow zero in on some area of my
work, regardless of what else happens to be around. 
And I just had to share that. I really am drawn to this work. Literally.

Word(less words) Wednesday: Pictures Prospective Students Take #1! #WhyIDigAnthropology #YESHomo

I snapped the picture below, from it's original place -- on a door in the Anthropology Department, while I was visiting school last week, since I think there are so many awesome things about it. I think it paints a pretty good portrayal of Homo neanderthalensis, which, although there is a large debate, is said to be a close cousin to Homo sapiens (that's us!).

Many scientists suggest H. neanderthalensis existed alongside H. sapiens -- modern Homo sapiens began to evolve about 200,000 years ago, and H. neanderthalensis in the late pleistocene 125,000 -30,000 years ago. Even though some may or may not agree with the evolutionary theory (I sometimes am not sure just exactly how much I subscribe to myself), I think this image is a perfect opportunity to provide insight on the way I often look at things.

Usually, when I think about the way we live today -- foodways, gender, instinct, breastfeeding and other areas, I often times find myself comparing and maybe even fantasizing about life somewhere around this time. I think I mentally allow myself to go here because although it probably wasn't, it seems like an ideal era. This period was long before we became infused with culture that sent us on a rapid plunge. It was before Sony Electronics began telling us we need their latest flatscreen, or everyone rushed out to buy the newest iPhone, and even before I sat here and typed this post on my macbook. Our foods weren't genetically modified, and we didn't subsist off of a diet of modern agriculture which is, as author Lierre Keith put it, soaked in fossil fuels and disease-laden. We actually followed our instincts back then, and many social issues that influenced our choices on discrimination, racism, class and others, didn't exist. Breasts weren't a source of learned sexual behavior and something for the 'man,' and homes meant living in a cave or a rock shelter; there was no need to purchase an extra piece of vacation property or anything else, I imagine, to make ourselves feel as if we're fitting in. We were exceptionally healthy, and had what I imagine was an ideal reciprocal relationship with the land, plants, animals, and the environment -- not built off of either one exploiting the other.


I could go on and on about this one here, but I'll stop here since this was technically supposed to be a 'Wordless' post with the image only, but, because I have to ramble a least some, morphed into 'less words' than I would usually write. And now it reading like a passionate novel. So I'll just stop and leave space open for discussion. My only question is.... what the heck happened?


O'neill, Denny. Evolution of Modern Humans: Early Modern Homo Sapiens. Date accessed: March 27, 2013

University of Washington. Anthropology Department. Homo neanderthalensis. Image taken March 21, 2013.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Black people and breastfeeding disparities: How we stand in our OWN way of a healthier community

First, I want to tell you that I am not writing in my normal MO. I am simply free-typing (free styling), which I never do -- I was born in the mid-70s, so pencil and paper before uploading is how I roll, and is how I can best get my thoughts clearly expressed. This usually is not my usual blogging day either, but I have something to say and am hoping my point comes across. I'm am not apologizing for any of the content, but if it sounds a bit choppy, then you'll understand. I'm hoping more than focusing on my grammatical errors and such, this will create a much-needed dialogue.

This is a painful post for me to write. Not only because it forces me to look at an area where I know sooner or later will make me sad about the state of affairs, but it draws upon some of my personal life experiences and forces me to visit these areas, which often I'd rather not. But before you read on, go watch the video by Jaylove47, entitled Blacks Hate Each Other, and then come back. Make sure you don't read ahead before you watch it.

A couple of weeks ago, someone got mad at me because I called her a Black Feminist. Actually, I didn't call her a Black Feminist, per se, but instead alluded to it. I told her from the viewpoints she was displaying in her YouTube video that I watched, I believed she was on her way to becoming a Black Feminist. Needless to say she ardently disagreed. Later, I found out that she was so against the ideas of Black Feminism because like so many others she believed that it excluded Black men. I was recently preparing to write a post about how Black Feminism, at very least, is not about hating Black men, and that as breastfeeding advocates we must be more inclusive of them in our advocacy. Of course I still believe this. I mention this because even though that post is going to have to wait -- it fits in what I have to say now, because it was only when I adopted a Black Feminist consciousness is when I began to understand and make sense of it all.

The other day I was out visiting the university I was recently admitted to, and whose offer I already accepted -- heck, I already sent my official transcripts. I was as excited as humanly possible that I was actually going to this place to talk to all of the anthropology professors, who will offer me guidance on a topic that has become such a force within my scope of advocacy and activism -- which manifested itself in my complete lack of sleep the night before. While I was there, I was reminded by the video which basically states that Black people are our own worst enemies. Or, that we just hate each other. While I was on campus, I sat back and watched while Black men completely dissed a Black woman on two separate occasions. Now you may say "Big deal." But I look at this completely different. No. this is nothing new, and the insecurity these men have that they projected outwards reminded me of the many other instances that I have witnessed this. And also of times that I have been the subject of this internal violence within the Black community. When I was 15 and in 10th grade, I was in PE class, and remember being asked by a white classmate why Black people talk so badly about each other all the time. You can say this is nothing more than some high-school drama, and I know there's definitely a level of truth to that, but I think it goes much deeper. I know it does. And I knew this was the truth, since even back then I had seen it countless times. It was no secret. More and more now I am seeing this with the blatant disregard for others in this community, and what it has come down to, for me at least, is why do I do the work that I do and if I will continue, and why?

This internalized self-hatred that we project onto others, doesn't only happen in these spaces. I've seen it on the bus, projected at a really dark-skinned brotha, who I believe was from Sudan. I've seen a Black woman get picked out of a crowd of about 100 white people and stigmatized by another Black person. I was once at a breastfeeding meeting -- the same one where I landed a seat next to the xenophobic white woman who said she can't see herself using 'Black' breastfeeding literature for her white clients -- and had shade thrown at me by other Black women -- you know, because that type of hate is so productive being in that atmosphere where we were there because we wanted to save Black life and all, right?! There have been many times that when I have met a (usually a young, Black person), and I can tell this has been their experience with other Blacks just by the vibe they give off. I know many of you who read this post also know what I'm talking about. My resistance to this legacy of intra-racial mental violence is to strike up a conversation with the young person to ease their tension. Yet, this is only a minuscule example of countless others that are woven into the fabric of our community. Don't you think this affects each of us mentally? Physically? Our breastfeeding rates? Our overall health?

If you go to YouTube, you will find endless episodes of Black men figuratively ripping the life out of Black women -- over our dating choices, our jobs, our skin tone, hair -- anythingAlthough this perspective -- Black men vs Black women makes up the majority of it, I believe, this not only happens from that angle, but vice versa. Black women also do the same to other Black women. For me, I view this like math problems when you're looking for a common denominator -- through a process, you eliminate to get to what you want. From what I have seen people have looked far beyond anyone else to scope each other out to look for their kind for this. Make sense? That Black people seem to scout out other Blacks to do this. We will bypass anyone around and pick each other out of a crowed to do this. I haven't even touched on physical violence and Black on Black crime.

My feelings continue to get hurt from all of this, and it pisses me off so much, that I really have been questioning if I am going to continue this work. And, why I bother in the first place. If others don't care, why the hell should I?

I'm not saying I'm looking for these utopian ideas among Black people or anyone for that matter -- even though I know we as people are capable of changing things in society and the planet, but I know for myself that I constantly work at challenging racism in every aspect of work that I do but it seems that many of the instigators are not just around us -- they are us! 

I have lost countless people in my life who cannot accept my politics, and especially my racial politics, and have even cried myself to sleep before by being castigated for criticizing a dominating system that continues to harbor racist sentiments against Blacks. But from what I see, as Black people we are harboring ill sentiments against ourselves. You know, the things we do where instead of looking at what we're doing we always place the blame on racism. White supremacy. Class issues. The devil.

Look, I am not at all saying these things do not play a tremendous role in social inequity and a baby's access to the breast or whatever other area. I know they do. And I know there is a historical legacy that shapes today. But I also see that there is the role we play in our own demise. I have to be honest with you that when I look at several issues in breastfeeding, where the way I see it is connected to every other area of society on a local and global scale, I tend to look at a larger picture to see where the origins of disparities come from. I have constantly challenged anti-Black racism and other issues of whiteness and such. But I'm starting to look at things a bit differently now. And I promise you that if indeed I do continue onwards with my education looking at breastfeeding among Black women, and spend at least five years of my life researching this area, you best know that a segment of my research will focus on the ways we ourselves by the way we hate on each other, create and maintain our own disconnect and disparities. Believe that.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

:: My 2013 Reading Pledge

"I will read all of the various books I received from publishers [and some I didn't], and post their reviews on my blog by the end of August!"

I took my kids to one of my most favoritest places in the whole wide world to take them. The Public Library! On this trip, I taught them each how to use the fancy library printers, which are all connected to a central location. I showed them how to begin by printing from their computer screen then using their library card number to find their project on the print monitor, and next inserting their money into the machine. I think they truly valued that lesson. But before that, as we entered, we noticed a poster full of yellow stickies from many other folks who had made reading pledges. The library uses this to get people to 'pledge' to read during the gloomy Winter months, since they can be a time when folks are less motivated than others; it can be undeniably dreary around here. The genre for this year's 'Resolve To Read' is Mystery, but it seemed like folks didn't mind changing things up a bit. And since the season is almost over, we extended the timeframe also, and made pledges of our own. My 12 year old said she will read one book per month for the rest of her life! I told her how awesome she is. My nine year old pledged to read all of the books she can, and my seven year old told me not to read his stickie. I only imagine what it said. Lucky for them they all inherited the love of reading and can be found engaged in a book, most often.

Of course there's nothing like diving in to new material and even revisiting and re exploring 'old' stuff, but -- well, I'm a just a little behind on my reading and -- definitely the reviewing part. Here are a few examples: Even though The Doula Guide To Birth: Secrets Every Pregnant Woman Should Know, (which is not from a publisher), is one I've long ago finished and have formed my opinion yet I have had a half-written review sitting as a draft post for maybe one month now -- but probably longer. I read this text as part of  'make-up' work from a missed assignment during doula training, and since I need book reviews/reports towards certification, I decided on that one. But it would help if I actually posted the report. This is almost the same for The Human Drama of Abortion, and The Vegetarian Myth. 

Since I'm going back to school and won't have a split second of extra time to spare on anything other than assigned material, the pledge I made is to get through my stash and read, write and post all of their reviews by the end of August. 

Here are the titles you can expect to see: 
I'll mark them off as soon as they're complete, and you can search the table of contents or the blog's labels for them.

The Human Drama of Abortion: A Global Search For Consensus
The Inspired Vegan: Seasonal Ingredients, Creative Recipes, Mouthwatering Menus
The Vegetarian Myth: food, justice, and sustainability
Teaching Critical Thinking: Practical Wisdom
belonging: a culture of place
Reproducing Race: An Ethnography of Pregnancy as a Site of Racialization
Family Secrets: Risking Reproduction in Central Mozambique
The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible
The Beginner's Guide to Edible Herbs
The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse
Songs in Black and Lavender: Race, Sexual Politics, and Women's Music
Mandela: The Authorized Portrait
The Archaeology of Mothering: An African American Midwife's Tale
Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice
Midwives' Tales: Stories of Traditional and Professional Birthing in Samoa
Granny Midwives and Black Women Writers: Double-Dutched Readings
The Doula Guide To Birth: Secrets Every Pregnant Woman Should Know

Working with this timeframe -- now through the end of August to complete these reviews, will give me just enough of a breather before I find myself in the academic abyss (which I'm actually looking forward to, btw). School begins the last week of September.

Have you read any of these? If you created a reading pledge, what would it say?

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

Acquanda As Wombanist Views Radio 'Feature Guest' for Women's History Month

I've been invited to be a feature guest on Wombanist Views for their Women's History Month episode. Wombanist Views 'is a radio program that is dedicated to broadcasting the voices of women, who are doing positive and exciting things in their communities.'

I'll be sharing information regarding (the culture, politics, inequities and reasons more people must become involved in) breastfeeding support, and a few other things as well. Below are the directions to the show which airs three weeks from today:

Air date is Thursday March 28, at 3:30 PM Pacific Time.

Url: Wombnast Views on Blog Talk Radio.

Let me know if you'll be tuning in! I really hope you can make it. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why I Just Dropped Out Of The University of North Carolina's Breastfeeding and Feminism Symposia

I'm not speaking at the University of North Carolina this month, after all. I was scheduled to present two discussion sessions at the 8th Breastfeeding and Feminism Symposia, but I canceled. I was literally in the middle of booking my plane ticket and making hotel reservations, when I saw an article from Clutch Magazine about a UNC Rape Victim [who] Faces Expulsion.

I read the article about Landem Gambill, who was being threatened for speaking publicly about her rapist -- an ex boyfriend, who is also a student at the university, and whose ostracism comes because they say she is being disruptive. The 'Honor Court' threatened to charger her with this violation:

"Disruptive or intimidating behavior that willfully abuses, disparages, or otherwise interferes with another (other than on the basis of protected classifications identified and addressed in the University’s Policy on Prohibited Harassment and Discrimination) so as to adversely affect their academic pursuits, opportunities for University employment, participation in University-sponsored extracurricular activities, or opportunities to benefit from other aspects of University Life."

I emailed the Symposia's planning Committee, and expressed my concern before I told them that I would do more research. While reading about Landem Gambill I saw that there had been numerous cases of the University's neglect in highlighting issues of sexual violence and various others who had launched complaints against the school for neglecting to do something. I received a reply from one of the committee members stating she was definitely concerned with violence against women at their campus as well as others, and sent me the link to the University's response, which after reading it did not feel is was a real reprimand on this behavior, on violence or on the perpetrator but felt instead as if they were issuing one that attempted to absolve themselves of the fact that this happened under their campus direction. Also, another committee member told me it was not the institution, but the students who run the high court.

I was really bothered by this story and all of this. I didn't know if I should continue with the presentations and change my content from speaking about breastfeeding and Black Feminism to speaking out against rape culture. After emailing back and forth over the past couple of days with these committee members this was my response:

"Thank you for replying to my email and going a step further in providing additional information on this recent headline that has seemed to highlight other issues within structure. Yes, violence on all campuses and non-campus environments concern me and others as well. I have done as much research as I can regarding the case of Landen Gambill once I initially heard of this recently, given the amount of time I have in order to either proceed or withdraw. Unfortunately I have not seen a great effort by the University of North Carolina to make a whole effort to eradicate the presence of rape culture on campus, or to even reprimand the actions of the perpetuator or the larger issue. And when we don't speak out against something, we are doing nothing more than stating our support. I cannot attend a session that underpins the principles of feminism in an environment I believe has not worked towards resolve in this issue or the many others who have also launched a complaint of sexual violence. What kind of feminist would that make me? The fact that expulsion is an option at all shows there is an underlying support of these kinds of crimes against women on campus and a willingness to accept it - and shame and blame the victim. I thank you for the opportunity, but please cancel my registration as well as refund my registration fee."

* Thank you to all who contributed towards the Breastfeeding and (BLACK) Feminism Chip In. The funding was to be used to offset the charges that I incur at this event, in order to continue doing this important work. Some of you have told me to keep the funds and use them for other breastfeeding promotions and advocacy, which I am thankful for and is what I will do. If this is what you'd like then let me know. Otherwise, I will begin processing the return of your donation.

Please sign the petition to help stop the impunity of the perpetrators of 'The Little Girl' who was raped, and have not been brought to justice. 

Soraya Chemaly: 50 Facts About Rape