The path of the documentary filmmaker is one of the driven crusader, and in Metro Detroit, there is a woman who is in the process of creating a testimony to one of the most profound of the Women’s Mysteries, breastfeeding. Motivated by forces that are both mundane and divine, she is on a one woman mission to bring the history of African American women and their stories on breastfeeding in this country to life on the silver screen. On June 14, the Detroit Paganism Examiner was fortunate enough to be blessed with an interview with the indomitable Afrykayn Moon, the driving force behind “The History Of My Chocolate Milk”
So, first things first, who is Afrykayn Moon and what is her mission?
I’m a Mother of two children who realize that this journey of mine is one of spiritual awakening and service. My mission has become one where I make the world better for the children I have given birth to. One of those things is ensuring that the children in my community receive breast milk.
How did you become interested in this cause?
I had my first child in 2007. I found myself explaining to people why I was breastfeeding. My family would turn their noses up when they saw me breastfeeding, I was even asked to leave a restaurant while I breastfed my little girl even with me sitting there proud with my nursing blanket on.
In 2011, the police were called on me for breastfeeding, and I decided enough is enough.
People have become so lost that they condemn and belittle Mothers for the very lifesaving act we are created to do. Mothers have milk to feed their children, we shouldn’t have to justify this to/for anyone.
Everyone has a catalyst, what was yours that led you to action?
I remember standing with my chest stuck out in pride after a news interview I had about the importance of breastfeeding. When I got home I got online and saw an email calling me a “porch monkey whore” and the link to an article about the “Nigger woman who got tossed off a bus for breastfeeding a Japanese ‘Nigfant’”. It lit a fire in me that never existed before. No one bullies me, is what I said to myself.
Why this way, and why now?
I feel I can make more of an impact with a documentary. People being able to see the path of breastfeeding in my community and hear Mothers, activists and historians speak about our history will travel further than anything I can write or post in social media.
What difference does it make in this society that we know these stories?
Children of color are dying at a rate of more than 15% before their first (1st) birthday. This is 2.5 times the amount of their white counterparts. It makes a difference because in a place where people are the most progressive, far ahead of science and technology, and “free” the death of rate of our children is alarming, embarrassing, and unnecessary.
Who touched you to bring forth this fire? Who would you name as mentor?
My children touch me daily. I don’t want my children to have to deal with the same fate that we are dealing with currently.
What footprints do you hope this work will leave for others who follow you in your path as griot and activist?
That our voices can and will make a difference, only if we allow people to hear us.
There are not a lot of documentary film makers running around here in Michigan that take on issues that relate to Women’s Mysteries. Do you feel that you have been set on a path by something spiritual?
What an amazing question. I feel like I was put on this earth to serve Mothers and children, while I walk on a path to find higher spiritual understanding for myself and show the path to my children.
What is involved in making this film? How far do you have to go insofar as material support and personpower?
There is so much that goes into making a documentary. Lighting, audio and video equipment, travel expenses, video editors, paying for permission to utilize certain images, hardware and software needed to create a high resolution product, promotion material and product packaging.
We are half way through the recording process, but now I have to pay for three people (including myself) to travel for the rest of interviews. Then we move on to editing, packaging and priming the documentary in different states.
What can someone do to help you make this happen, either monetarily or by other means?
We need the community to help us by making a donation, become a sponsor and help spread the word. This is the time for everyone who cares to do like I have and put their money where their hearts are. Every donation counts big or small, so if you only have $5 then that puts us $5 closer to our end goal.
In your research, what surprises have you found?
I am surprised that people see Corporate America buying up breast milk in the so called “urban” communities and they still question if their breast milk is best for their children. Would Big Business really put money towards something that is worthless? Of course not, they know our milk is liquid gold and it’s time for us to restore our belief in ourselves.
Are there any trends you have noticed that you would like for people to note?
Just because you were a formula feed infant/child and you are okay, doesn’t mean it’s not harmful to your children.
How much of this is a part of your heart? After all, in your field breastfeeding something that is part of the wholistic approach to your calling, is it not?
110% of this is a part of my heart. Our children are living a life that isn’t theirs, and because of that they are dying. We can change this by educating our community and empowering Mothers.
If this project had a theme song, what would it be?
There was a song written in 2012 during our Million Mothers March entitled “Food For Thought” by Njeri Earth. I still feel like this song is perfect for explaining where we are and where we should be.
Where can people contact you for more information?
My email is: email@example.com or the Facebook page for Breastfeeding a nation.
Is there anything you would like to add that we may not have covered?
It’s our job in this community to empower the Mothers so we can raise healthy children. A community can only be as strong as their weakest child.
Thank you, Afrykayn Moon.
Besides being a film maker, she is also an activist. President of Detroit-based Breastfeeding Mothers Unite, she organizes educational and motivational events and is a force for awareness in Metro Detroit. She has also been key in getting the word out about the the importance of infant health and outcomes.
Also, thank you to all the tireless breastfeeding advocates, allies, peer supporters, educators, and others who are making a difference every day with every word, action, and positive thought. Programs such as the Mother to Mother program in Detroit have made a drastic saving difference in many children’s lives. And don’t forget to hug your local Doula, she has lots of help for those who want to do the most natural thing in the world when they are able, and that is feed their babies.