Why Black Women Were Forced To Breastfeed White Children

Wet Nurse
Leslie Taylor-Grover
August 19, 2021

During enslavement, Black women of childbearing age were extremely valuable. Of course, they could help increase the population of enslaved people – but enslavers and their families had another idea of something they could provide.

Breast milk. Shortly after giving birth, enslaved mothers would frequently be forced to breastfeed white women’s babies instead of their own. Enslaved mothers could sometimes only see their own babies every few weeks! This had horrible consequences.

Black children died at an astoundingly high rate. Of course, white women didn’t care! They went the extra mile to ensure they had Black women’s breast milk. For some reason they considered breastfeeding “dirty” or “undignified.” What they did was nothing short of evil.

White people love to spread lies. They painted Black women as “bad mothers” who abandoned their own children to happily nurse white children – when the truth is they were milking Black women like cows.

Black women still carry this trauma. Today our women still have much lower rates of breastfeeding. We all must know the horrific history of Black women and breastfeeding to understand our cultural attitude towards the practice – and hopefully, to finally free ourselves of the shackles of that anti-Black legacy and make our own choices about how to take care of our families!

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