I met Ashley Wright randomly on Facebook. She friended me and we quickly bonded over being mothers of color who had a similar parenting style and were breastfeeding. I admire her. Her post below was written after a Wet- Nursing photo was posted on The Bad-ass Breast feeder. Nothing was wrong with the photo its self. Yet the comments that came after of how beautiful the picture was and the unity that came with it, showed there was a Huge disconnect. In response The Bad-ass Breast feeder apologize to the black community about the pain it may have brought. That didn’t go over well either. She was told how it was racist to call black people black ( which is news to me). Oh and the comments of how nothing was offensive and people need to get over it poured in. Then it turned into well the woman wasn’t a slave she was a paid wet-nurse. Which was supposed to some how suppose to change the situation. This is when Ashley called me and we talked for a good hour. She wrote her response as we talked and then read it to me. I had to even stop and pause as she read it. Yet her words are true and I had to share.
As a Black Woman the picture alone is not offensive. The ignorance and hate which brought about her displayed action in the photo is; and certainly doesn’t depict unity as which was first thought by the admin whose intent was only to share love.
Since many of you all cannot think back to what it was like to be Black in 1910, and as displayed have no freaking clue from the lack of color I see in the strand, please allow me to shed some light and information. As a daughter of a father who was born in the 1940s, who picked cotton in Mississippi (segregation still existed at this time), whose mother (my grandmother) was “The Help”, a “disgusting” job as she called it, I have been told many stories of how WE were mistreated, misguided, hated and unappreciated. We were low class, matter of fact not even considered human beings, only able to occupy “professions” that they allowed us to have to make us believe we were providing for our families by paying back debts of working in the fields and in homes. Yes, you read me correctly. Paying back debts from working in the fields. You see, when we were allegedly set free, the white man had to find ways to keep us put. That meant, continuing to work for the tools and clothes that were given to us, the produce that we had previously eaten the years before and not to mention the straws of hay and sheds that some of us were so fortunate to have slept in. Many times being a wet nurse was the only thing the older Black women could do and were forced to do to pay back debts and be a contributor; as they were too slow to be outside and too ugly to help out in the house. They simply weren’t allowed to just grow old. Oh no, definitely not going to waste any man power in any area, so put the old cow to be a wet nurse.
Most times, photos of Blacks back then, were to show off the owner’s slaves and Black workers. They were trophies, prize winning, domesticated, bred, livestock not wonderful people who came into their life to help out around the house and voluntarily care for the children. In 1910 there was no unity of black and white. The only thing the people stood united on then, was the fact that Blacks are dumb niggers who have to be controlled.
So the reason for the uproar and the continued offense is not the photo. We all can appreciate history and the simple act of breastfeeding. What we, Blacks, have a hard time swallowing is the fact, apparent from the comments, is the continued action, a continued mindset, a continued hate, a continued wakeup call that my white “friends” may simply go home and write some of the same comments some of you all have; projecting superiority, ignorance and racism well into 2013. This is the pain of a Black woman and an even deeper fear for a Black mother as she strives to teach no color lines yet awareness with a simple phrase of “they don’t really like you and they wont ever understand”.
More of Ashley here