Skimmed: Breastfeeding, Race, and Injustice

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Born into a poor sharecropper family in North Carolina in 1946, Mary Louise, Mary Ann, Mary Alice, and Mary Catherine were medical miracles. Their mother, Annie Mae Fultz, a Black-Cherokee woman, delivered the first surviving set of identical quadruplets in America. Instant celebrities, their White doctor sold the rights to use the girls for marketing purposes to the highest-bidding formula company. The girls lived in poverty, while Pet Milk Company'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 tragic story of the Fultz quadruplets while also uncovering the fraught history of 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 and more just future.

Publication Date: 
November 19, 2019