I've been following all the threads with great interest, finding some great new perspectives, but haven't added much of my own, as inevitably my points have been precipitated by another by the time I get a chance to weigh in. BUT, I will say that I feel class is at least as relevant as race (intertwined as it so often is), and I had some thoughts on the matter a while back - I thought I might as well go ahead and repost them, by way of officially entering the conversation.
As someone who is entering the field of birth and breastfeeding, however gradually, I aspire to make sure I am always being sensitive to these issues and making whatever small contribution I can to bridging the divides. So, here are my months-old brief thoughts on race and class issues, using breastfeeding as a particular and similarly affected matter.
Very important short film: How Racism Impacts Pregnancy Outcomes
I recently had a brief but thought-provoking conversation with one of my best friends, who works as a manager of a clinic that serves homeless people (quite an amazing, admirable place, by the way). We weren't taking about her work specifically, just chatting about parenting, as moms tend to, and the topic of nursing came up, as it tends to, and turned to my particular unusually challenging experience. I mentioned how helpful chiropractic care and craniosacral therapy had been to us, and while not discounting that kind of care (her clinic employs naturopaths as well as allopaths, so she certainly recognizes the importance of offering choices in care), she observed that it's impossible for her to see these kinds of circumstances without seeing the class issues that accompany them.
She does have a point, of course. I was able to seek out this care, at least in part, because of the resources that were available to me; due, again, at least in part to my class level, my education level, the type of community my peers are based in, and any number of other socioeconomic factors. We are by NO means rich, and frankly, we still have quite a bit of debt left from the whole ordeal, but still, we were able to some of the funds together, no matter how strapped it left us. Put an impoverished woman in my same position: would she be able to pay for a lactation consultant even once, let alone multiple visits? Would she have had information about what her options were? Would anything beyond visits to a pediatrician that are covered by Medicaid be considered frivolous by her family and other members of her peer group?
It's a complex issue, to say the least, and I thought of this conversation when I saw this brief video this week. Please check it out, and give some thought to how race and class might affect access to the care that has been important to you, and the services you believe are important for others. How can we help this to change?