Brown breasts should be the rule, not the exception.
Lately, I’ve begun to kick off my talks on the importance of image diversity in health provider education with these 9 words: brown breasts should be the rule, not the exception. After I say those words, I pause for a moment… allowing them to waft through the air as my audience squirms a bit under the weight of them. It can be quite uncomfortable to shift a paradigm, to interrupt one’s course of belief with a supposedly contrary notion. But discomfort is necessary for growth and expansion.
Those 9 words are followed by some general data regarding global demographics to really bring home the fact that over 80% of the world are people of color. This is integral to laying the groundwork for a talk on why there should be far more representation of brown skin in lactation and other health provider education.
But why is it so uncomfortable to shift from perceiving a group as the minority to understanding they are, in fact, the global majority? Because it goes against our long-held and deeply engrained perceptions about groups that have been under-resourced and historically oppressed within our communities. It forces us to recognize the many ways we have othered people because they were not the majority in our local community or even our country. It requires that we center the needs and lived experiences of those who have been a mere afterthought for many of us in our work and studies. But the world is over 80% brown, and becoming more so every day. Only after we reckon with that shift can we do the work that is necessary to demand more of our education and adapt our care models to include every possible presentation that we may encounter.
When I was a little girl in church, at some point during his sermon the preacher would say, “It’s tight, but it’s right”. That phrase simply means this conversation is uncomfortable, but it is necessary and it is the right thing to do. People of the Global Majority (PGM) is a relatively new term used to refer to groups who are commonly referred to as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color) in the United States. To learn more about the term People of the Global Majority, follow the profound work of Rosemary Campbell Stephens who coined the phrase. Stephens states, “Correctly describing the Global Majority as such, disrupts the narrative and moves the conversation away from the margins to the centre, from disadvantage to advantage, and the added value, what I call the additionality, that these groups of rich, diverse heritages potentially bring.“
My work centers People of the Global Majority and always will. I say we all need to get a bit uncomfortable in order to truly deliver optimal care to everyone who entrusts their health and that of their infants to us.