Tag Archives: white

Neither White Nor Black

I would like to extend a great big WELCOME to the newest subscribers to “Caffeinated Catholic Mama!” I hope I can continue to enlighten and entertain and welcome to the family!
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They met at a jazz bar in Los Angeles, California. The year was 1941. Billy was a ranch hand who dabbled as a singer. Lisa was a secretary.

It wasn’t long before young Billy and Lisa crossed a line which, for most Americans, was unthinkable at the time.

Lisa was white. She had roots linking her to William Clark, the explorer who traveled to the Pacific Coast of the United States with Meriwether Lewis. Billy was black, the grandson of a former slave who had moved to California from Texas in the 19th century. They wanted to get married.

Curious to read how this love story ends? Read the rest here. Thanks for the link, Shannon!
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Read My Letter to my Daughters, as featured on The Feminist Breeder, for my personal story about living Neither White nor Black.

Pax Christi!

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Filed under family, life, race, Tuesday

Breastfeeding… Normalized

This past weekend, my family traveled to my hometown for a family reunion. We haven’t had a reunion… well as long as I can remember to be honest. It was great seeing cousins who I haven’t spent time with since I was little and it was really hard not to see them as little kids, but as adults and parents. My daughter had a blast playing with her 3nd cousins, most of whom, she just referred to as her “friends.” Hey, you try explaining the levels of cousins to a 3 year old! (Thank you, Wikipedia for the cousins equations!)

I come from a pretty stereotypical African-American family… we’re loud, pretty funny and love to eat! There was so much food there this weekend, that we are still recovering: Ribs, Chicken, Turkey, Baked Beans, Collard Greens, Cornbread, Salads, Fruit Pies and Cobblers… not to mention Aunt Rosie’s Famous Carrot Cake! However, my favorite part of the day was not the copious food or laughing with the family. My favorite part was when my three year old showed the whole family what normal is for her.

My daughter (The Bear) received a stuffed cat as a “Yay! You are a big sister!” present from one of my college friends. This stuffed cat has become her constant companion and she named him “Kitty Boy.” Early in the day of the reunion, The Bear carried Kitty Boy over to a folding chair in the midst of the older relatives of the family (and when I say older, I mean older; These are the matriarchs of my family, all in their 80s and 90s), climbed up on the chair, lifted her shirt and “latched” Kitty Boy on. When she was asked what she was doing, she looked up and said “I’m nursing kitty boy.” The matriarchs looked at each other, shrugged, kind of smiled and said “She’s nursing her kitty.”

My daughter has no idea how important and special her simple declaration was. Breastfeeding was not really encouraged in my family and for her to show everyone without fear or shame what it means to be a mother in her world, means I am doing something right.

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Filed under breastfeeding, feminism, life, mothering

Let’s prevent this with education

I grew up outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and I am sad to say that there’s been a rash of sad deaths of infants in Milwaukee. As of yesterday, 8 infants have died as a result of unsafe co-sleeping. Just to be clear, we are a bedsharing/ co-sleeping family. We have a queen size bed (and I’d love a King, especially when the Bear decides to join us) and we typically have the babies in bed with us until they show signs of wanting to leave. For the Bear… it was around 12 months, the Dragonfly is still cozy at 9 months.

We have rules for co-sleeping; if either parent is under the influence of alcohol or medication (NyQuil and the like) they are on the couch. Because the parents need to be 100% in control, especially when sleeping with an infant; I am the cold one in the house, so I sleep in long sleeves, pants and socks so that we are not worried about blankets on the bed; we never allow the children to sleep next to another because the Bear (35 months) is not aware of her sister’s positioning in the night/ while sleeping and would be a danger of overlaying.

But by far, the biggest key to bedsharing is whether the mother is breastfeeding or bottlefeeding. (This is not a rant of which is better as we all know where I stand on that issue.)

from breastfeed.com

Studies have shown that breast-fed babies wake more frequently than formula-fed babies. The reason: Breastmilk is the natural food for infants. There is no harsh ingredient that requires extra digestion time. Breastmilk is “processed” quickly and efficiently by Baby, prompting the need for closer feeding intervals.”Babies are nocturnal animals,” says Jolenne Short-Porter, R.N., IBCLC from Exeter, N.H. “In the early months, they need to nurse frequently for their growing needs, as well as mom’s milk supply. Nighttime nursing is necessary. Unfortunately, in our culture, we want our babies to sleep at night.”

This is a huge reason why there was back lash against Enfamil’s Nighttime formula. Babies are supposed to wake up at night, they wake up a lot at night and there are theories that the excessive nightwaking is a survival mechanism

“Human children are designed to be sleeping with their parents,” says Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D., an associate professor of anthropology and nutrition at Texas A & M University. “The sense of touch is the most important sense to primates. The expected pattern is for mother and child to sleep together and for the child to be able to nurse whenever they want during the night.”

Dettwyler reminds parents that normal, healthy breast-fed and co-sleeping children do not sleep through the night. She is a firm believer that parents need to dispel the myth of needing eight hours of uninterrupted sleep when children are infants. Parents should instead view these nighttime interactions as precious and fleeting.

Before the 19th century, most infants slept in close contact with their mothers – usually in the same bed – and had frequent nighttime feedings. In many cultures, this is still the norm for babies and parents.

from enabling-breastfeeding.blogspot.com

It didn’t become “normal” for a baby to sleep through the night until the 1950s, according to Dr. James McKenna, an anthropologist and director of the University of Notre Dame Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Lab, when bottle-feeding with formula exceeded breast-feeding in popularity. Bottle-feeding and baby’s sleep McKenna said he found differences between bottle- and breast-feeding families when it came to the sensitivity and positioning of mothers with their infants. Therefore, for bottle-feeding families, “sleeping is best alongside the bed, not in the bed,” said McKenna. Co-sleeping furniture may be a viable alternative to bed sharing, but none has been tested by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Anti-bed sharing The AAP discourages bed sharing, noting that it “is more hazardous than the infant sleeping on a separate sleep surface.” Some physicians think the AAP (and several SIDS prevention groups) have gone too far in discouraging bed sharing. Japan has a very low incidence of SIDS, and they sleep with their babies, said Thomas. “So, the problem is not just bed sharing.” When deaths occur in a bed the whole practice is condemned, Thomas said. “We never say that about a crib.”

(emphasis mine)

I tried to find information advocating bottlefeeding and co-sleeping and I couldn’t.

Going back to the issue in Milwaukee, I don’t have the stats but how much do you want to bet that all of the mothers involved were low-income and black? We know that the breastfeeding rates among low-income, minority women are low and this is the exact demographic that should be nursing their kids. After all, breastmilk is free and easy to come by. So, maybe instead of attacking the bed sharing custom, we should be attacking the fact that our children are not getting the best chance they can to survive.

(OK, so I lied. It did become a breastfeeding rant.)

Prayers for the souls of the eight infants in Milwaukee and all infants who are now in the Father’s arms.

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As always, I welcome your thoughts, but keep it clean!

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Filed under breastfeeding, history, mothering, political

Identity Crisis

I am a black woman. At least, according to the State of Missouri. This either came as a surprise to you or it was a “yeah, so?” moment. But I am also a white woman. Over the years, I have had sort of an identity crisis and that crisis usually comes about when someone first meets me and eventually the converstation turns to “So, what are you?” I’ve had my number of snarky answers: Human, Female, American, etc but eventually I settled on the old standby: Multi-ethnic. Besides, that sounds much better than “Other.” But the problem with being multi-ethnic is that you really don’t belong to one group or another, you just kind of hang out there, looking for someone, anyone to accept you for who you are and that is hard to come by.

Growing up, my elementary school was more of a melting pot… there were Blacks, Whites, and Others but, you know, as a kid you don’t really notice that sort of thing. You more or less base your friends on those you like and those you don’t. And the person you like one day you may not like another. Middle School was pretty similar but a common thread through both of those existances and still remains was that while I had some ethnic friends, my best friends were… white.

My family moved to the suburbs for my high school years and I attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and you would have thought that college would have been the best time for me to “re-invent” myself and really embrace my Black heritage… Nope. By the time that I got to this point, I was so ingrained in White culture, that I was afraid that I would not have been accepted by other black students. During the 2008 Presidential Campaign, there was the thought that President Obama wasn’t “black enough.” I get that. So, instead of joining the Black Student Union or taking advantage of the services offered though the Powers-Knapp Scholarship, I shied away and further repressed the ethnic side of me.

So now where am I? Living in the suburbs of St. Louis, I can count on one had the number of black girlfriends I have. As I explore my varying sub-sets of community (La Leche League, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, YMCA, MOPS) I find it over-flowing with white girlfriends but a drought for black. There are times that I really feel as if there is part of me that is lost and yearning to be found and this struggle is compounded by my raising two daughters who are categorized as Black as well. What kind of issues will my blonde haired, blue eyed, fair skinned elder daughter and my dark haired, dark eyed, olive skinned younger daughter have? Will they be the same? Will they differ?

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Filed under mothering, political