Thursday, April 24, 2008

Myths of the Black Breast

So much flowing through my mind as I review research for the breastfeeding book and upcoming presentations. I give a presentation tomorrow on the impact of blogging on healthcare! I'm quite excited about it and learned a lot as I researched the subject. Sadly my research on breastfeeding is drawing me to conclusions that no one wants to hear about. Unfortunately the most powerful barriers to breastfeeding for black women can be traced back to institutionalized racism and how that racism impacts healthcare disparities, access to care, care provider and healthcare consumer interactions, cultural perceptions, competence and ability, and on and on and on. It's really quite depressing and quite shocking- even for me. These are not the answers (to the question, why don't black women breastfeed) that I expected to find. But everytime I turn a corner, there it is smacking me in the face. On a brighter note, Valtra and I decided on the framework of our book (it won't be a how-to) and look forward to crafting our query to our selected publishing houses.

2 comments:

Laurel said...

I am fascinated to learn more about your research, Sherry. I had never dreamed that racism could be affecting breastfeeding success. It seems completely non sequitur to me, so I'm eager to hear more. Chocolate breast, vanilla breast, no matter. Breast is best!

Laborpayne said...

Laurel,
That makes two of us- I'm stunned that it is seeming to be such a prominent feature. I had been looking at research strictly about breastfeeding and black women. When I popped over to take a look at health disparities research, I found entire bodies of worked devoted to racism as it relates to health disparities. From what I found, I identified 40 barriers to breastfeeding cited by black women, 50% of which were tied directly or indirectly to institutionalized racism. An example: barrier no.20, fear of pain (not related to racism)
barrier no. 27 distrust of healthcare system and providers (directly related to racism)
barrier no. 38 lack of access to community-based support resource (indirectly related to racism)
I'll keep reporting as the full picture emerges.