Karlesha Thurman was surprised when a photo she posted of herself breastfeeding her 3-month-old daughter after her college graduation ceremony received a flood of negative comments.
"I did it to show it's natural; it's normal; there's nothing wrong with it," says Thurman, 25. "I didn't even know there was a big controversy about breastfeeding in public until all of this happened."
Shortly after Thurman made her hard-earned walk to accept her accounting degree from California State University, Long Beach, friends asked to meet her daughter, who started to fuss. Still in her cap and gown, Thurman began to breastfeed the hungry infant to comfort her. A friend who "thought it was so cool" asked to snap a photo.
"I was proud of the fact that not only did I graduate, but that I got to share the moment with the one person who is the most important to me, and that is my daughter," Thurman says.
Thurman posted the photo on the Facebook page "Black Women Do Breastfeed"—and soon felt a backlash from people who consider breastfeeding in public to be inappropriate or weird. One Twitter user claimed that Thurman "hoe[d] around in third period," while others called her names like "slut" or "tramp."
Despite the criticism, Thurman has also received support from many social media users and news outlets and isn't letting any of the negativity bring her down or affect her beliefs.
"I honestly thought that as a society, people were more understanding to breastfeeding and understood the importance of breastfeeding," Thurman says. "It's not disgusting; it's not a bad thing; it's not a negative thing. More people should do it."