When 25-year-old Karlesha Thurman became pregnant during her final year of college at California State University Long Beach, she could have done what a lot of women may have done. She could have dropped out to concentrate on her swollen feet and her morning sickness and the fact that just walking from class to class had gotten a lot more physically demanding.
But she didn’t. She stayed in school. She worked her butt off. And just a few weeks ago, she graduated. With a beautiful 4-month-old baby girl named Aaliyah in her arms.
It should be a simple story, really; it ought to be a nice tidy tale of perseverance and commitment and responsibility and triumph. Yet this is America in 2014 and the crazies have come crawling out of the woodwork once again. See, according to a riveting little piece over at ABC News, during Thurman’s graduation ceremony her baby became pretty hungry. And anybody (and I mean ANYBODY!) who has ever stood in the middle of an event or a public place with a hungry 4-month-old in their arms knows damn well that the only thing standing between total chaos and peace is feeding that kid as soon as humanly possible.
So, the young mom did what any breastfeeding mom should do in that situation and … oh dear me! … she began to breastfeed Aaliyah. Then, according to ABC News, someone snapped a pretty darn endearing photo of a mom in her cap and gown breastfeeding her little girl.
Enter the wolves.
As the story goes, the photo found its way onto a Facebook site called Black Women Do BreastFeed, a site which pretty obviously champions and encourages African-American women to feed their babies naturally. From there the Internet took over, and as is often the case in this technological age we’re living through, a lot of people staring at their computer screens just chomping at the bit to be offended by something, by anything even remotely left of center, came gushing out of the woodwork like a wave of bored termites.
The sight of a grown woman graduating college AND breastfeeding her child was simply too much for the masses! How dare someone do two good things at once! What gall and rebellion! What travesty of the highest order it is to combine major life accomplishments in full view of an angry discontented society!
I don’t even want to re-print any of the thousands of negative, negative comments that have appeared on a million different websites since this past Saturday when this story went viral, mostly because they’re too careless and reckless to even roll off of my fingers. Maybe that’s a bit of a condescending attitude, but hey, I’m the storyteller here and when it comes down to which side of a story is worth spreading, I kind of feel like I owe it to myself and to whoever may stumble upon my words to tell it like it is.
And so I’m going to tell you something straight up. If you have a problem with women breastfeeding in public, if you find yourself shrieking out loud or swallowing your own puke when you notice a lady whipping out her boob and feeding the greatest kid who was ever born in the history of the world (because that’s exactly who every baby is, FYI), then I think it’s high time that someone like me, someone smarter and more progressive and further along in the ways of pure and simple human compassion and maturity than you, lays it all on the line for ya once and for all.
Here’s the deal: When you actually are offended, or even when you, for whatever bonkers reason, just act as if you are offended by the sight of a woman breastfeeding her baby ANYWHERE in the world, whether she’s sitting in the Walmart on a bench/hanging out at a Little League game in the bleachers/standing on the roof of a 65 mph limo ripping down the freeway, you are grabbing the world by the lapels and hurling it backwards some, oh … I dunno, 10 million years back into the cave man days! Because the very act of defying or denying any capable mother the right to feed her child naturally, even out there in the world we share, is nothing short of prehistoric thinking, y’all.
Like it or not, that’s the way it is.
You can argue your case all the way up the stairway to heaven for all I care, but you will never ever be able to convince the zillions of us who actually enjoy living and life and kids here on Earth that by making a lady stop breastfeeding in public you are somehow doing the world any kind of a favor.
Because you’re not.
Truth is, you’re doing the opposite. You’re feeling uncomfortable in your own particular skin, spreading your own wildly cancerous hang-ups around in order to justify the fact that you have, I’m sorry to say, a plethora of unaddressed psychological and social issues which have been boiling up inside of you for way too long, my friend.
The whole argument about women breastfeeding in public is so trite and ridiculous that there really ought to just be a law passed that makes it illegal to even talk about it anymore. That’s how negative and stupid it is. Newsflash, my America: Women actually develop breasts so that they can feed their young. I can’t believe you forgot that! C’mon, think back to the stuff you learned in seventh grade now and then, will you?
All of this wasting of precious time, these times when we riff off each other about how “offensive” or “wrong” or “uncomfortable” breastfeeding in public is, it’s just a tragic shame really. Deep down inside, I find it almost impossible to believe that any grown-up or any kid of any age anywhere could ever be even remotely affected in anything but a positive way when passing a baby being breastfed on the street. Or at a college graduation. Or in freaking church or wherever.
Still, you have the right to your opinion and I stand by my right to mine. I’m just glad I’m me. I’m just glad I’m a dude living in the year 2014 who looks at that picture of Karlesha and Aaliyah Thurman and just smiles and says to himself, “Way to go, young lady. Way to go, way to go, way to go!”
If you were grossed-out or revolted by that sweet little photo of a mommy and her baby, I’m just glad that I don’t know you and that I probably never will.