Giving birth should be one of the best experiences in a woman’s life, not one that is riddled with racist assumptions and stereotypes about the new mother. Sadly, this is what happened to Keshia Knight Pulliam last month at an Atlanta hospital.
On her podcast, the 37-year-old actress shared that after giving birth to her daughter Ella Grace, the hospital staff sent in an “old little white lady … about 70-years-old” to speak with her about breastfeeding. While Pulliam didn’t tell the worker that she used to be on The Cosby Show, she said soon after the worker arrived, she started explaining all of the services the state provided for low-income mothers.
“We have some great programs that you may want to take advantage of that you may need … um, WIC is a great program.”
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Pulliam, not missing a beat, let that woman know: “Ma’am, I have excellent insurance but thank you.”
Also, she wasn’t afraid to call a spade a spade.
“So I guess she saw this little black girl with the little baby by herself and on the door, I didn’t realize that they’d put like a faux last name and the last name was Brown,” said Pulliam. “So I guess she saw ‘Miss Brown’ and was like, ‘She probably needs some WIC’ and insurance services.’”
The Emmy-nominated actress also noted that she was offended when the white hospital worker refused to physically show her how to breastfeed, which is what these specialists are supposed to do.
“She didn’t want to touch me…guide your boob, show you how to hold it, put it in the baby’s mouth, [but] this lady was not trying to touch my little brown boobie – not at all!”
Pulliam added that she knows that assistant services are important, she just didn’t like only being offered welfare.
“This lady, she doesn’t know any better, because if she knew better, she’d do better! But yes, the old Trump lady tried to give me the number for WIC. My thing is this: I get it, it’s about showing the services that are offered, and I probably wouldn’t have been offended had she [listed] several of the services, [not just] WIC,” she concluded.
Luckily for Pulliam, her doula recommended a new lactation specialist. And for Pulliam, she says she’s always one to share stories like these.
“It wouldn’t be me without the funny stories,” she told the audience.
But given the drama around her pregnancy—i.e. Ed Hartwell, the baby’s father and her estranged husband—this is really the last thing that she or any other Black woman needs. Real talk: There should never be shame in needing public assistance, but when will the phrase “welfare queen” stop being equated to all Black women?
Listen to Pulliam’s podcast about giving birth here.