In leadership there is the talking and there is the “being.” That is, who you are as a leader or leadership group speaks as much about your mission, core values and purpose as any written or spoken words. This holds true in the “first food” movement just as for any other. In order to be truly effective, the leadership “being” among advocates and policy makers must be aligned with its stated goals.
Lately, there has been much conversation about the 40-year long disparity between African American breastfeeding rates and that of non-Hispanic white women. The good news is, a new CDC report shows the gap is narrowing from 24 percentage points between the two groups in 2000 to 16 percentage points in 2008.
Such an improvement is noteworthy. But if the U.S. breastfeeding leadership really wants to close the racial disparity in breastfeeding rates, then the first place it must look is in the mirror. The first group it must evaluate is itself. How can we say racial parity is our goal if it doesn’t even exist among the leadership of the movement?
As we embark on innovative and more community-focused approaches to closing the breastfeeding gap, we need more black and brown faces at the table shaping policy, developing programming and spearheading culturally relevant outreach into our communities.