Wednesday, May 23, 2007

how do you teach a thing like THIS?

Jasai - 31
Los Angeles, CA
2 children - 1 boy (12), 1 girl (6)

“Mom,” my son says in the kind of tone that lets me know what he is about to say is troubling, “Oren always says nigga.”

I pause.

And then I unload.

“Why would he feel like he can say that around you?!!”

Blank face.

“There is no way he is saying that if you are not!!”

Guilty face

“Do you think I know any Jewish people who would think it was okay to say that word around me???!!”

Appalled face

“Do you know that he is hurling offense at you, your family and every other black person you know when he says that??!!”

Sullen face

I went on this way until I could not untangle all the things my head and fighting heart wanted me to say.

You see, Oren is my son’s energetic if academically oblivious Jewish friend. I have my issues with him for this and other reasons but since they have a similar hobby in skateboarding and my son’s grades don’t reflect Oren’s work habits, I let it slide. But no more.

How do you teach a young black boy that you do not compromise on an issue like this? That as an emerging black man in America, there is no room to acquiesce to the ignorant tide of individuals, media and even other black folk who think that word has simply become part of the American lexicon like “homey”, “dude” and “man”. And that never is he to conform to such ignorance in order to save a friendship. Never.

I assured him that there was is no way Oren would continue to be his friend if he tossed derogatory names for Jews up and down their jr. high school hallways.

He tells me Oren says these things because he watches David Chapelle. I tell him I could give a damn why he says it.

But I will not tolerate it or teach my son that it is acceptable for him to tolerate it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

the truth about bureaucracy and the breast

Jennifer James
Chapel Hill, NC
2 children - girls

Did you know that there are only 56 Baby Friendly Hospitals in the United States out of 19,000 worldwide? Did you also know that when black mothers give birth in Baby Friendly Hospitals, their breastfeeding rates go up significantly?

In 2001, a research team from Boston University Medical School and Boston Medical Center tracked the results of Boston Medical Center attaining its Baby Friendly Hospital designation. Not only did their breastfeeding initiation rates go from 58 percent to 87 percent over four years, the rate of black mothers who initiated breastfeeding rose from 34 percent to 74 percent. That's drastic. That's significant. That's remarkable.

Additionally, a study released on May 15 states that when a child is born in an inner-city, baby-friendly hospital breatfeeding rates are comparable to national breastfeeding averages.

Since 1991, hospitals and maternity and birthing centers around the world have been awarded Baby Friendly recognition, but it's not easy. Each hospital and birthing center has to comply with ten specific steps set up by the WHO and UNICEF in order to call themselves baby friendly and cannot "accept free or low-cost breastmilk substitutes or feeding bottles".

Of course, we know this poses a difficult challenge for most hospitals both in America and worldwide because of the sweeping dominance of formula companies. Money talks, to be sure.

What this says to me: This says that the vast majority of hospitals in the United States would rather sell out the health of babies and instead accept lucrative contracts from baby formula manufacturers under the guise of giving mothers feeding options for their babies. This is clearly reprehensible.

If you are a pregnant mom, please consider supporting Baby Friendly Hospitals that are doing the right thing and thinking about the well being and health of babies and not their budgets and pocketbooks.

*Jennifer James is the Editor of MommyToo and many other blogs which focus on the health and well-being of mothers and children of color in America.