Last week, a Detroit mom was nearly kicked off a bus for breastfeeding her 2-week-old baby. In case you missed it, 32-year-old Afrykayn Moon was nursing her baby inside her Moby wrap when a driver refused to leave the bus stop until Moon was done, and called security guards at the next stop to have her ejected.
Moon didn’t leave, but the incident stung and shocked her. Black babies suffer poorer health and have higher rates of SIDS than other groups; they're also breastfed less. As a member of the Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association, Moon serves as a model for other African-American moms and re-introduce breastfeeding as the norm for her community.
And now, via YouTube, she speaks out directly. She gives a vivid account of her humiliating incident, and speaks affectingly about the importance of breastfeeding. She is my new heroine; watch the video and see if you don’t love her, too.
Here’s the lowdown: Moon was waiting about 20 minutes for the second bus of her cross-town trip. Her newborn was hungry, so she had begun feeding him, tucked into the Moby, while at the bus stop.
Moon goes on: “The bus driver looked at me and said, ‘What is that you’re holding that way? I know that’s not a baby!’ She bends down to look at what I was holding, and she says, ‘Uh -- is that a titty?’ And I’m thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, how vulgar,’ but I said, ‘Yes, that is my son, I am feeding my son.’ And she said, ‘Well, you’re going to have to cover that up.’”
Can you imagine if a male bus driver made reference to a "titty"? I think I would have slugged him. As it is, I might have taken this in stride -- people do say the oddest things -- but it gets uglier: the bus driver complained to dispatch, who told her to throw Moon off the bus. To which Moon said: "I looked at her and said, 'Well, you call dispatch to come get me off this bus, because I’m not getting off.'"
The driver then put the bus in park and refused to leave the bus stop. The other passengers began complaining that they would be late for work; meanwhile, Moon finished nursing her child and put him up on her shoulder. At this, the bus driver did finally begin the ride -- but at the next stop, she hailed some security guards or police men and asked them to eject Moon, claiming she was confrontational.
“I said, I cannot believe this chick is trying to put me off this bus, and better still, I can’t believe that you are getting on this bus to try to stop me from feeding my child," Moon says.
The officers backed off after asking if she was done feeding and she said she was done for now, but if he was hungry, she’d feed him again. Remember, this is her legal right in that state. The officers left the bus.
In the end, Moon got through her bus ride, but what a stressful situation. And here’s the real meat of the matter, something I want to print out on business cards and hand out whenever someone gives me the stink-eye for nursing in public (which is never, lucky for them):
My point is not to show you how much of my breast was or was not showing, but that as a mother, I should have the right to feed my child -- period. Okay? ... And I should be able to feed him without being harassed by the bus driver, without having the bus driver call the police on me, without the bus driver calling dispatch to try to have me put off the bus.
There were five other women on the bus at the time, and doing things like that would discourage another mother from ever wanting to breastfeed ... We don’t need mothers to keep from nursing, we need to keep promoting mothers nursing. That is the healthiest way to care for your child, and things like this are going to keep a mother already hesitant about nursing, from nursing.
So I’m not going to show how I was dressed, I’m just saying something needs to be done. What I experienced was completely rude, what I experienced was completely disrespectful, especially coming from another woman, and something needs to be done immediately.
Something was done: the driver was suspended, with pay (for now), and Moon and her cohorts held a nurse-in on Friday. I wish I could have been there with my kids. We were there in spirit!
What do you think of Moon’s story, now that you’ve heard it from her mouth?
Image via YouTube