It’s sad to say, but it really feels very true. Ask any mother who’s been subjected to this form of – dare I call it such – discrimination. Babies are the last socially acceptable class of citizens in America that it’s OK to discriminate against. After all, they shouldn’t get hungry in public. Ever. Especially if their mother is the type who wants to, or has to breastfeed.
Can you imagine using the following excuses about a black man?
- “My children shouldn’t have to see a man with dark skin while out shopping. Or eating their dinner at Applebees(Denny’s/Mc Donald’s/Olive Garden/etc). I mean, that’s just nasty.”
- Or how about this one – a personal favorite. “Why can’t he just go eat/shop/rent a movie/etc in the bathroom if he wants to – you know – be black out in public?“
- Or another great ‘here’s-your-sign’ statement: “I don’t mind him being black, as long as it isn’t showing. He should cover up if he wants to be black in public.”
Seriously. How quickly would comments like this get you (rightfully) fired, laughed at or punched? But pick on a innocent baby and suddenly it’s ok. Suddenly every. single. one. of those statements is coming out of the mouths of supposedly educated adults with hardly a blink.
This post is being written in response to the the recent incident about a nursing mother who was forced to leave Target. The comments and response has been interesting. Do any of the commenters realize that the issue is not whether anyone saw any booby, whether she COULD HAVE gone to the restroom or the car (in December Michigan weather) or whether anyone “complained”. The issue is SHE WAS IN THE RIGHT AND THE INITIAL CONTACT FROM THE SECURITY GUARD WAS ILLEGAL.
And let’s call it what it was. DISCRIMINATION. The ONLY reason there was even an issue in the first place is because that baby was breastfeeding. Period. And THAT is discrimination.
And until it is treated legally as such, we will continue to see innocents suffer when their mothers are shamed, hassled and treated as second-class citizens for doing best by their babies.
Now you may laugh and say – come on, Angela, you are exaggerating. But I’m telling you – anyone who has, like me, been the victim of this type of discrimination it is EXACTLY the same.
No one would gossip about my husband to find out how to prevent him from attending church events with his Hispanic-ness. Or quickly enact an entire church policy to “nip this in the bud” lest we offend someone who is racist. Yet all of these things, and more, was done to protect people from knowing that my 6 day old baby ate food. Go figure. You can read my written response to their discrimination here. Incidentally, despite their illegal policy and unethical behavior, my husband and I never received ANY response, never mind an apology.
Like I said – it’s still socially-acceptable to discriminate in this way.
And I wonder what it will take to change this? How can a mother with a nursing infant be expected to go to Rosa Park extremes to raise awareness of the desperate need? What will finally get the attention of the general public and sway public opinion I wonder? I have no answers here – only questions.