Just in case you needed to hear it: YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE A MOM TO BE A BREASTFEEDING OR BIRTH ADVOCATE.
Take Jade’s experience for example. She directed and photographed the images hanging on the wall two years ago to be a part of the @GoddessCollective7. Today, she is one of the founding Board Members to the Black Birth Experience Inc, a Non-profit combating the high infant and Black Mother Mortality rate with art and advocacy. Here is what she had to say about BBX and doing the work.
When I took those original photos I never knew how important it really was to have this kind of representation for mothers until I witnessed the hardships mothers endured from people. I started out wanting to advocate for all mothers who are breastfeeding and then I learned about the high Black maternal and infant mortality rate and quickly shifted my focus.
At the Goddess Collective shoot, I got to see how people reacted to the mother, Luna; I got to see the police call for backup on us because her breasts were exposed while she was breastfeeding — even though it is perfectly legal to breastfeed in public. It is crazy to me that mothers are being shamed constantly when they simply are nurturing their child. That impression definitely fueled a passion in me to start my non-profit to address this head on and advocate for birth art and expression.
Now, I have decided to be more intentional about bringing representation to Black mothers in breastfeeding and maternal health in general. It’s wild because two years ago if you asked me, I would have never thought that I would be a photographer AND doula. This goes to show that you don’t need to be a mom to be an advocate or a support system for mothers. We should all be advocates because mothers are literally building OUR future. Mothers are birthing OUR community and sustaining them, so it is OUR responsibility to contribute in any way that we can possible, mine just so happens to be through art, storytelling, and history-making.
This image represents generational change. Change starts with us.Jade Lilly from @ShootMeJade, Founding Board Member of BBX