Did you know August 25-31 is Black Breastfeeding Week?
Photographer Vanessa A. Simmons celebrates black women who breastfeed year-round in her work but explains why this one week is so significant: "It is a celebration that raises awareness about the devastating statistics that women of color are up against due to minimal lactation education, a lack of cultural support, and the unfortunate historical circumstances that forcefully separated our ancestors from their babies," she writes on her website, Normalize Breastfeeding.
This was the inspiration for Simmons, who is a breastfeeding mama herself, to spend a year photographing black mothers breastfeeding their babies.
"In the past 365 days I have documented a wide range of very peaceful, loving, and joyous moments among the mothers who, statistically, are less likely to initiate breastfeeding after birth, less likely to breastfeed exclusively for a minimum of 6 months, and are less likely to breastfeed for the entirety of infancy, a recommended two year minimum according to the World Health Organization," she says.
Simmons adds, "Yet these mothers that I have photographed, like myself, have actually accomplished so much more!" She wants people to know, "Black mothers do breastfeed. We even breastfeed babies past one year of age!"
Simmons' project captured so many beautiful images of black women breastfeeding outside, inside, at the shoe store, in their homes, at the park, and across the country, from Nevada to Washington, D.C.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.