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Memo to the World: Black Mothers Matter Too!

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Kimberly Seals Allers: I have a gripe. I hate to start off airing grievances, but I figured I'd get this one off my chest so I can move on to other things. So here it is: there's a dominant mommy culture in this country and its face is mostly white and affluent.

black mother and daughter

That bothers me because Black mothers have an important perspective, unique insights, and many of the same across-the-board issues as all moms, but we are often overlooked in all the great mommy debates. We aren't seen as the thinkers in this mommy movement, not respected as an important perspective in shaping the future of say, maternity leave and childcare issues, nor is our journey in motherhood told in cutesy books or network sitcoms.

My fear is that there's some dangerous subliminal messaging here and the message is this; my job as a Black mother is simple: make sure my children don't become future criminals, gangsta rappers, dog-fighters, teenage mothers, or welfare recipients. Our hands are full; let's leave the policy making and big picture idea-shaping to someone else.

But more strikingly, I fear that black women are still viewed as breeders not nurturing mothers, women who "end up" mothers and not those who choose and embrace the path of motherhood. Hey, we're too busy rolling our necks, cussin' or smacking up our kids to take part in esoteric conversations about enacting meaningful legislation that supports mothers.

The last bit of blame falls on us. We have to speak up. We too want the best for our children, better maternity leave options, and flex-time schedules that aren't career killers. The truth is, we are intentional parents with supportive husbands and our relationships are not just baby mama drama. We can learn a little sumthin' from our Caucasian sisters here--if they have an issue they will create a community, live or online, in a minute. They will speak up, they will march, or start a foundation, but they will be heard. We can start by viewing our voice as important and demanding to be heard. We can start by rallying together. The world is officially on notice.

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95 comments so far | Post a comment now
Alisha May 8, 2009, 8:48 PM

I agree totally with the statements of this article. There is still a perception that African American women are not taken seriously; especially moms. We are not asked to be on shows such as “The Motherhood”, or any other. It’s almost a taboo. And believe you me..Tawanda the ‘crack head’, with low income and low levels of education, who has her kids taken away is more than likely to be seen than one of us. And personally..I don’t believe that African American single motherhood should be stigmatised either. It’s just a shame. We need an image consultant to give us the respect that we have worked very hard for. And not just work on changing the image..really work on what’s causing the problem.

-Not Again May 14, 2009, 12:44 AM

i think this article’s intention was to point out that these stereo types do exist, and black mother’s have to push past it, where as white mother’s typically do not have a stereo type to battle against. What frustrates me is this on going white v. black or black v. white issue. After reading all of these comments, I was annoyed, and more annoyed. White woman don’t like being called out? On what? Why is race always brought up? Aren’t we more then just black women, or white women?? We are people, individuals each of us. Our race shouldn’t sum up who we are. When I turn on the television, or flip through a magazine, the color of the face staring back at me doesn’t matter. And it shouldn’t! We are all the same, all of us, and its about time we started treating each other that way!

Diana Barry Blythe May 24, 2009, 12:46 AM

@ NYCity Mama

I agree with you.

When someone is in pain (whether you think it is real or imagined) you do not slap her in the face and tell her to get over it.

I did not expect this kind of flame war coming from readers who are usually nurturing and caring.

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