But I did. Today I left my job as a staff writer at World Journal, the newspaper that calls itself the largest Chinese-language paper serving North America.
On Oct 21, the paper published an article that, well, I hate to use the word, discriminate against breastfeeding mothers. Titled "Breastfeeding photos embarrass Chinese-American to death," the article cited a bunch of anonymous resources, labeled breastfeeding photos as "R-rated-photos," described those photos as "disturbing" and "disgusting."
As a journalist, I was shocked. As a breastfeeding mother, I was offended. I had a 10-year-relationship with United Daily News Group, the mother company of World Journal. "Righteous reporting" has always been their motto. I simply couldn't believe that the editor used such an article as the headline story of the paper's local page. I was simply shocked!
|"Breastfeeding photos embarrass Chinese-American to death"|
I tried to deal with all of these--after all, many of my colleagues were from China, where 70% of the newborns were formula-fed. Maybe they are not used to have breastfeeding colleagues pumping in the company restroom.
That article calling breastfeeding "disturbing" and "disgusting" turned out to be the last straw on the camel's back. I couldn't deal with the whole thing anymore. I tried to talk to my editor, but he thought I was overreacting. Our conversation could never reach a conclusion. Angry readers wrote to the newspaper, but the paper didn't respond.
I was disappointed. I thought the problem with that article was obvious, even Facebook said sorry for banning breastfeeding photos. But there was my editor, a newsperson who I once admired, sitting in front of me, insisting that there was nothing wrong with that article, that I was overreacting, that I had a personal issue.
Later I took my baby to a local breastfeeding support group, and learned that the California law actually requires employers to provide employees with reasonable time and space for nursing. Federal law also requires any employer with more than 50 employees to do the same. World Journal Los Angels has much more than 50 employees but no nursing room, which is against both federal and CA law.
It turned out even me myself didn't know what right I should have. I realized that I might helped to form the hostile atmosphere. I talked to my supervisor about the possibility to have a nursing room set up in the company, but she never responded. I filed a complain with the HR about the colleagues harass me about washing pumping accessories in the kitchen, but the HR manager brushed my concern with "they were just joking about it, didn't mean to harass you."
I was very disappointed. I thought here in America my right to breastfeed is protected, but the truth is, it's not. I was stressed over the mistreatment and my milk supply went down dramatically. I couldn't help it but keep thinking about the whole breastfeeding thing during the past two weeks. I found myself so passionate about this issue that I must do something to make a difference.
I realized that I wouldn't be able to do anything if I stay with that newspaper. So I quit my job. Starting today I'll be working as a freelance writer and a volunteer for breastfeeding organizations and women+kids rights groups. I am starting this blog to document my journey.
If I didn't become a mother, it's very likely I'd write for World Journal until the day I retire. But my little one really changed the direction of my life. I never expected this when I got pregnant. What an adventure. I look forward to this new chapter of my life, and yes, I'd rather be breastfeeding.
Update on August 24, 2014: I eventually sued World Journal for breastfeeding discrimination. The case was later settled by Legal Aid Society. Read more here: https://legalaidatwork.org/releases/legal-aid-society-employment-law-center-settles-breastfeeding-discrimination-claim-against-world-journal/
|"And I'd rather be breastfed."|