Google+ Authentic Parenting: Why 'Nobody Even Breastfeeds Anymore' Is A Racist Remark

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why 'Nobody Even Breastfeeds Anymore' Is A Racist Remark

In lamest reasons not to breastfeed, I wrote that saying 'nobody breastfeeds' or nobody nurses anymore is a racist remark. I got a comment trying to set this straight, as if I as just blabbering off the top of my head.
Now, I might be writing in a non-native language, but that doesn't make me to dense to understand the meaning of the word racist.

Racism: noun, Discrimination or prejudice based on race. 
 (as quoted from the anonymous commenter) 

When I wrote that the remark is racist. I meant racist indeed.

Saying that 'nobody even breastfeeds any more' is ignoring millions of African, Latin American and Asian women. So yes, that is very very racist. It is implying that their breastfeeding doesn't count and needen't even be included in the picture. It is implying that all that matters is your own (probably predominantly white/straight/married/middle class) environment is All That Matters. It is implying that they in fact are nobody to you. And yes that is racist.

The fact that I even need to explain why such a comment is racist merely proves my point. That most of us tend to forget that are places in the world that are - luckily - still bereft of our superior (oh the irony) hegemonic worldview. It is sad that we need to be reminded that there are cultures different than our own, where breastfeeding, cosleeping, gentle parentin etc still are the norm. It proves again how brainwashed we are.
What's even worse is that we claim that these countries are 'Third World' or 'developing nations'. Africa is - from an evolutionary perspective - more of a First World, and I can promise you that - when it comes to parenting - they are way more developped than The Wonderful Western World, and that our influence is actually undevelloping them where children are concerned.

Image: hdptcar on Flickr



  1. Thank you! I've always thought this. I've had people try to justify weaning from the breast after a year because 'in this part of the world we can afford to', implying that countries where extended nursing is the norm, are only doing it because they can't afford to buy formula...mmmmmmm, riiight.

  2. Yes Michelle. I get a lot of "I understand why you are breastfeeding for so long, because you're living over there, with the diseases and all..." Like somehow Western children shouldn't benefit from the natural way of feeding a child, just because polio is a little less prevalent... Come on!

  3. While I agree with the sentiment that 'nobody breastfeeds anymore' represents a myopic view. I think labeling it as racist is an oversimplification. It ignores the variance of experiences of women of different races, different classes, etc, within our own culture (I am assuming that this article was written from an American perspective). Sadly, breastfeeding rates are very low African-American and Latina women within the US.

  4. Yes, quite often people in America will say that we don't need to breastfeed because we don't live in (insert "third world country" here) and we have clean water. When formula kills babies in Africa or other so-called third world countries, they insist it's only because they don't have clean water there, as if formula has never killed a baby in the west. The sad thing is, I know women who've had OBGYNs and pediatricians say this to them, that they actually outright discourage their patients from breastfeeding because breastfeeding is for poor people in third world countries.

    It's sad that our Western attitudes about breastfeeding are spreading. Harlem Hospital recently became certified as Baby Friendly. As you may know, Harlem is a historically and predominantly black part of NYC. The people at Harlem Hospital said they had the most trouble getting the recent African immigrants to breastfeed because they saw formula feeding as being "American" and in their minds, the way to assimilate was to bottle feed.

  5. Leah, your assumption is completely wrong, I am Belgian, living in Africa.
    Maybe breastfeeding is not prevalent in US among minority groups, it IS in Europe (among minority groups) and it sure is in Africa and Asia.

  6. I don't disagree with your explanation. But I do think it can be more than that. We Westerners tend to be obsessed about doing "the latest thing", and that may have more to do with "keeping up with the Joneses" than ignoring the fact that millions of minority women breastfeed. It's ironic that formula-feeding became trendy in part because the "poor immigrants" fed their babies that way. Now it has reversed and breastfeeding rates are highest here among the white, wealthy, and educated.

    Westerners do tend to act as though the way we do things here must be the way everybody does it. Sadly, this applies to a whole lot more than just breastfeeding.

  7. It is interesting that even though many people in the United States -do- have a "keeping up with the Jones'" attitude, they think that the only way to do something is the way that they do it... as if nothing existed other than diapers, or cribs, or large 2-8 bedroom homes (etc).

    Here we seem to have a huge belief that science will lead us to all the right answers and forget there is money to be made and that means more to manufacturers than our children's health and safety.


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