Yesterday, George Floyd was laid to rest in Texas, United States, next to his mother.
I, like so many around the world, mourn his passing, and send my deepest condolences to his family, including his six-year-old daughter Gianna.
His death is holding so much that it can feel hard to bear. From the pain of centuries of racism and oppression, to anger at the injustice of police violence, to sorrow at the inequities in health care, George Floyd’s untimely death at the hands of police has become the prism that has concentrated our collective outrage and focused it into a clear call for action.
As we all take a hard look at the ways we can answer this call in our communities, we must look to the inequities that are experienced in lactation. Nearly two years ago, when I took office as ILCA’s president, I committed to “setting the table” in a way that “created a space where all voices are truly welcomed and truly heard.”
During my tenure, I, along with the ILCA board and staff, have worked hard to set that table and hear your voice. ILCA has done much to name the barriers faced by Black people in the United States, both for entering the lactation profession and for accessing breastfeeding and chestfeeding support. Unacceptably, barriers exist too for other non-dominant cultures, both in the US and around the globe, and we have worked to name those as well.
Building on the work of the Lactation Summits, we have shared with our community some of the tools we need to do the work of dismantling oppression. (Here’s one important resource: strategies for having challenging conversations in the lactation field.)
We asked our community to help us get an even deeper understanding of the barriers, and with the help of Dr. Adrienne Coleman and Traci D. Ellis, JD, SHRM-SCP, experts in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), developed an action plan for moving towards equity in the profession, both in the United States and globally.
Our board and our equity committee are tackling the important work of making that plan a reality. I am truly honored to see this critical work take place.
Today, while I mourn, I also celebrate George Floyd’s life and his legacy. In the past few days, many important policy changes have been proposed or enacted in some US states, aiming to reduce police violence against Black people. While these changes are critical, and I am grateful for them, they are not enough. We all must do more to dismantle oppression in the US and globally.
And while I am deeply proud of the work we have done at ILCA, I also know that this, too, is not enough.
I, along with the board, commit to continuing the work I set out to do when I took office: we must do all that ILCA can do to clear a path to the profession. Culturally-matched care for families is critical to the well-being of families and an equitable start at life. To do so, we must continue to ensure that our commitment to diversity and equity is not just in name, but woven into every aspect of our work. We must increase our support for these efforts, and at every turn, ask ourselves the hard question: are we doing enough? Families deserve nothing less from us.