Diversity, Inclusion, and Disrupting ‘Professional’ Spaces as a [Black] Nursing Mom Doin

Dr. A. Breeze Harper wearing Maison Lucine professional nursing dress (Photo Credit: Dr. Oliver Zahn)

I travel to discuss and motivate people to take action against systemic racism and white supremacy within veganism , animal rights, and beyond. I founded the LLC Critical Diversity Solutions with Elise Aymer which is a DEI strategic consulting business.

On October 16 I showed up at Hilton Hotel in downtown Portland OR for Animal Grantmakers annual conference. Not only was I one of two Black speakers and participants during the entire event, I was the only one who brought a child. During my 2.5 day stay there, I had seen no one bring a child into the hotel which is a primary point of business stay. I spent about 8 hours in the lobby area (where I worked while a baby sitter took care of my child or I chilled out with my child when the babysitter wasn’t there).

It is rare that professionals travel with their kids in the USA . I do. I don’t hide it and in many spaces, I stick out as not just the only Black professional but the only one who dares to bring her baby with her to nurse on demand since that is a food justice issue.

Most intriguing is whether or not to enter the often mostly men-dominated spaces of end of the day professional conference culture of bars– all while a tv channel is on about baseball, basketball, or football.

Disrupting this space with a nursing baby attached to a Black bodied cisgender woman is both frightening and revolutionary. Sometimes I do it and sometimes I don’t.

I think about how I have my sh*t together (at least when it comes to delivering what I’ve been hired to do– my messy house is another story, ha!) , I am well prepared and always deliver what I came to do in innovative and skillful ways. All this while taking care of a baby more than 25 times while traveling over the last eight years while each of my four kids were under two years of age. I have often been sleep deprived due to caring for them during the night– but I deliver!!

I often wonder what it is like to travel as a white and cisgender man into these spaces with no children in tow as well as rarely having to worry about other safety issues such as navigating safely through red counties, informal sundown towns, or even navigating spaces in which you can be the recipient of sexual harassment or assault(yes it is all genders who are victims but it is highly and disproportionately women and girls in the work place in the USA).

This is what the world of business and innovation looks like when designed by under represented groups like moms of color in the USA– a country that continues to not support us structurally and institutionally and expects us to choose a “paid job/career without kids” or “stay home and parent your kids without pursuing a career.”

Each mom is unique. What’s your hack when it comes to traveling with children for your work– especially if you are nursing on demand?

These are my observations as SlackerHackerMom, my new Black feminist hack into mothering and beyond. Don’t worry, we aren’t getting rid of Sistah Vegan, but SlackerHackerMom will be launching in early 2018.

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