Thank you for taking time to share your concerns with Michigan Breastfeeding Network. In the time since your public accountability campaign to Medolac, opportunities to learn from experts in the work of racial equity have shined light on how our response was inadequate and damaging. We are truly sorry for our response to your campaign.
We have taken time to reflect on the ways our biases and position of privilege affected how we understood and responded to this issue. We understand our response to this campaign was limited by our own racial and class lenses. We are clear now that if African American women are targeted for their breast milk again, we will value the leadership of our partners and use our privilege and platform to increase awareness of this issue.
We are trying to do better as we move forward. To this end, we are:
- Shifting our focus from a traditional medical model of breastfeeding support into a larger systems-centered approach aimed at eliminating barriers that disproportionately impact women of color.
- Establishing strategies and resources to support equitable improvements in societal barriers to breastfeeding success.
- Expanding and diversifying our projects team and community partnerships.
- Identifying and implementing racial equity strategies across all our projects.
- Adopting the United States Breastfeeding Committee commitment on diversity, equity, and inclusion to guide our work.
- Creating more opportunities through our projects to learn and grow as an organization with our partners and network.
We are committed to building a more inclusive organization that is equipped to reduce racial inequities in breastfeeding outcomes. Including:
- Expanding and diversifying our board of directors. We recognize that as a statewide organization MIBFN’s leaders need to better reflect the diversity of our state. We anticipate onboarding new board members by mid-January 2019.
- Rewriting our strategic plan in early 2019. We will be inviting input from partners and are committed to ensuring that equity is a foundational tenet.
In recent communication, you’ve shared your wisdom regarding “clearing the space” as foundational to the work of racial healing and reconciliation. We are sorry we continued our work without reaching out to you to acknowledge the damage caused by our biases. We are humbled and grateful to you for providing us with this opportunity to rectify these wrongs.
As an organization, we are still learning and growing in our capacity to serve as a partner in racial equity. The questions you posed are very important and helpful in this process. However, our responses would be disingenuous if we claimed to have all the answers you requested. With that in mind, our team will continually work on answering your remaining questions through our actions and not just with our words.
In the coming months and years, and as we continue doing this important work, we hope that our actions as an organization, as well as individuals, demonstrate our commitment to racial equity beyond the information we shared today. We understand that reconciling with you, your organizations, and Detroit families will be an ongoing process. We will continue the process of reaching out to the signatories of your letter.
We have a lot of work to do and we thank you for this opportunity to begin a process of reconnecting.
The Board of Directors of Michigan Breastfeeding Network