Mom photographed breastfeeding at George Floyd protest says image has given her a bigger platform to 'advocate for police reform'

Kyla Carlos was photographed breastfeeding her newborn at a Black Lives Matter protest in Virginia. (Photo: Kenyetta Carlos)
Kyla Carlos was photographed breastfeeding her newborn at a Black Lives Matter protest in Virginia. (Photo: Kenyetta Carlos)

Kyla Carlos took her 12-year-old daughter to a George Floyd protest in Virginia on Sunday for an educational experience, with her three youngest children in tow. When breastfeeding her newborn son at the demonstration, she didn’t feel it was necessary to cover up, a moment her cousin spontaneously photographed. Carlos says the image, which was shared online, has granted her a bigger platform to “advocate for police reform and a better birth outcome for black women,” who are likelier to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white peers.

“I feed my kids anytime and anywhere and without a [breastfeeding] cover,” Carlos, of Newport News, Va., tells Yahoo Life.

The mom has sensitively taught her little ones about systemic racism and police brutality, and the protest was a first for her eldest. “She can grasp what’s going on,” Carlos says. “I’ve asked her, ‘What do you know?’ and build off that. That day she asked me why I was crying. It added a new layer to our conversations, because she doesn’t know how vocal I am on a daily basis.”

Those discussions emerge from the girl’s own experience with racial discrimination and her innocent curiosity. Carlos says her daughter held up a “No justice, no peace” sign at the protest and signed petitions to support the movement spurred by the death of Floyd, whose neck was pinned under a police officer’s knee for nearly nine minutes. Since his May 25 death, four officers have been charged with crimes including second-degree murder.

Of the chaos that has occurred in multiple cities, Carlos says, “I understand how looting and rioting can move things forward. ... When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, people rioted for 10 days and we got the Civil Rights Act. These things matter.”

Carlos says that diverse protests unfolding across the country are a breaking point. “People are waking up to the realization that black people have been oppressed, and those without black skin can be affected,” she says. “[There’s an understanding that] if black people are treated equally, all will be equal.”

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