Skimmed: Breastfeeding, Race, and Injustice
Born into a tenant farming family in North Carolina in 1946, Mary Louise, Mary Ann, Mary Alice, and Mary Catherine were medical miracles. Annie Mae Fultz, a Black-Cherokee woman who lost her ability to hear and speak in childhood, became the mother of America's first surviving set of identical quadruplets. They were instant celebrities. Their White doctor named them after his own family members. He sold the rights to use the sisters for marketing purposes to the highest-bidding formula company. The girls lived in poverty, while Pet Milk's profits from a previously untapped market of Black families skyrocketed.
Over half a century later, baby formula is a seventy-billion-dollar industry and Black mothers have the lowest breastfeeding rates in the country. Since slavery, legal, political, and societal factors have routinely denied Black women the ability to choose how to feed their babies. In Skimmed, Andrea Freeman tells the riveting story of the Fultz quadruplets while uncovering how feeding America's youngest citizens is awash in social, legal, and cultural inequalities. This book highlights the making of a modern public health crisis, the four extraordinary girls whose stories encapsulate a nationwide injustice, and how we can fight for a healthier future.
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About the Author
"Recovering the remarkable story of the Fultz quadruplets, Andrea Freeman brilliantly reveals how racism, economic inequality, and an unholy alliance between corporations and federal programs create the racial disparity in breastfeeding. Skimmed connects longstanding stereotypes to structural impediments that deny Black mothers the ability to decide for themselves how to feed their babies. This urgent book reveals the deadly consequences of a health crisis that implicates race, gender, economic, food, and reproductive justice."--Dorothy Roberts "author of Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty "
"Skimmed weaves together the story of the Fultz family with history and legal scholarship to explain how medical coercion and white supremacy have shaped Black communities' access to first food. Offering solutions from food justice organizers, Andrea Freeman shows us a path to supporting families who want to breastfeed."--Dani McClain "author of We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black Motherhood "
"Skimmed provides a powerful portrait of how racism fuels the disparity between who breastfeeds in the U.S. Freeman shows that race continues to matter, even when it comes down to our children's first food, despite many Americans' belief that we are beyond race."--Khiara M. Bridges "University of California, Berkeley "
"'Wow!' is my understated expression while reading, pausing and writing notes [on Skimmed]. It is a defining read alongside Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy....Anyone who will listen to me, I am telling about Skimmed."--Wenonah Valentine, MBA, Founder in Residence and Executive Director, iDREAM for Racial Health Equity "a project of Community Partners "