The Internet is doing one of its collective freak outs today after a picture of woman breastfeeding during her college graduation went viral.

Like many new moms, 25-year-old Karlesha Thurman was once again reminded that babies don’t care what’s going on when they want to eat—even if you’re in the middle of receiving your bachelor’s degree. So Thurman did what moms have done since the beginning of time and fed her child, only this time she snapped a picture.


via Facebook

The proud grad shared the snap as a comment on Facebook, which was reposted by the Black Women Do Breastfeed page. It quickly made the rounds on Facebook and Twitter, causing many to wonder if Thurman’s choice was inappropriate.

While many were supportive of the mom, others, predictably, were not. The judgments were swift and harsh, some even calling Thurman a “hoe.”

Though many still have an issue with women breastfeeding in public, the criticism of Thurman feels particularly harsh. Many assumed she was graduating from high school and decided she was a “fast” teen who “[hoed] around in 3rd period,” while others ignored the fact that she was getting her degree and called her “ratchet,” presumably because she’s a young Black mom.

Far too often, Black women, and particularly Black mothers, are placed under an uncomfortable microscope where our every move is dissected for public debate. Thankfully, however, Thurman seems to be taking it all in stride. The new grad took to Facebook to explain why she shared the photo in the first place.

“I found out I was pregnant my last year of college, had my daughter one week into my last semester, she was my motivation to keep going,” she explained. “So me receiving my BA was OUR moment, so glad I captured the moment and so glad you shared it with the world.”

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  • SimplePseudonym

    Mixed feeling/depends on the purpose of the photo/it’s her life and graduation she can do what she wants. I am ALL FOR the re-normaliz’n of breast feeding (I remember seeing a woman breast-feeding in a mall and getting freaked out by how long it has been since I’ve seen a woman breast feeding. In my world, that’s pretty weird.). If the photo is to make a statement about breast feeding, I’m all for it. If it’s just a random photo, then…I suppose? I think of breast feeding photos like pics of you eating while lifting the fork into your mouth- not particularly your best shot? Though, for the sake of those who may be more religious/modest, I think a little coverup would be nice (though if the baby is having one of those days when they’re not having the cover up, then the boobs are gonna have to fly).

    Props to her for graduating with a baby. I heard that first trimester is a MUTHA!!!!! (I remember seeing a coworker who would just fall asleep in the middle of typing when she was pregnant.) And, even for those who aren’t a fan of the nakedness, why so mean on the Internet toward this person you don’t know? At worst, you should roll your eyes and show to a friend, but to attack her is just plain nasty. The downside of social media- these trolls out here won’t let you slip.

  • Brad

    From NBC’s Today show:

    The photo makes news at a time when black women have the lowest rates of breast-feeding among all races and ethnic groups across the U.S., said Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter, a pediatrician at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, N.J., who found the photo beautiful.

    “It’s a wonderful image because it brings together the fact that she’s educated, and is going to be an educated professional, and black and choosing to breast-feed,” said Feldman-Winter, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ section on breast-feeding. “It’s just nice to have more and more role models of black women breast-feeding. That’s what we need to overcome the deficits we’ve seen over the years. We’ve seen this disparity between black women and other women in the U.S.”

  • Kiah G.

    What’s annoying about this entire story is this persistent need to prove a point. Black women breastfeeding is NOT a cause. I’m sorry but it just IS NOT! It’s been happening without Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for decades and these “causes” just to get people talking and to feign outrage when someone doesn’t support your choice in putting a private pic on the internet is tired. So what she breastfeeds?! Yes babies get hungry all hours of the day and night, that is not newsworthy as every mother knows but breast pumps and bottles were created to make situations like this avoidable if you so choose. Now if someone other than the mother had taken the pic and posted it online as a means of shaming her…that’s one thing but to sit here and throw on what have to be tattered and torn capes for every phony cry for outrage is beyond exhausting. Don’t be mad if people that you’ve allowed into your private world disagree with your decisions. Get some discretion about yourselves and get a life. This isn’t worth all of this! It’s not news and quite frankly no one cares. Trolls will be trolls and attention seekers are what we’re all left with on both sides.

  • binks

    At this point, I am over the breasts/nipples debate. It doesn’t look like her classmates were phased around her so shrugs… but I am wondering how the baby was in the graduates’ area in the first place, most people aren’t allowed there. And the typical responses are those from idiots especially the one that states that her breastfeeding her child set black women back…I have no comment for that type of stupidity. Black women are always in a situation of damn if we do, damn if we don’t.

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