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Seeking Real-Deal Open-Minded Moms

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Kimberly Seals Allers: I had a dream. Well, it's really a passion that has become my life's work. That is, to become the voice of today's modern black mother.

Let's face it: the mommy world is full of voices and those voices are often slinging harsh words between a multitude of warring camps -- stay at home vs. working moms, breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding, baby-wearing, bed-sharing -- the list of competing opinions goes on and on. I also dreamed, however, that by openly sharing our real-deal motherhood stories, other women could openly engage and appreciate alternate ideas and perspectives. And that by learning of each other's realities, we could soften the lines that often divide us.

different moms

I dreamed that in this new era of Obama, and now, Sonia Sotomayer, we could stretch beyond our own comfort zones and be open to other opinions. Unfortunately, as I've learned since I started blogging for momlogic, our culture has dangerously become too niche-oriented, and too many of us are only interested in looking at a small range of ideas and information.

To be fair, a good number of mothers, whom I applaud, opened their minds to consider some of the perspectives I've shared here. Others could even agree to disagree. I like that. But it's the commenters who are all too ready to demonize people who espouse opinions different from their own that bother me. Those who think they are so "enlightened" and progressive and "beyond race" but, in fact, are actually permanently stuck in their vacuum-formed convictions. I am still hopeful that by speaking the truth, our truth, as modern, educated, confident, black mothers and all the complexities therein, we can build bridges between our communities. And that these bridges can be based on a real foundation of honesty and not just saying the things the mainstream world thinks we should say.

As a journalist, I relish a healthy debate and watching my words spark the kind of free speech that makes this country great. As a card-carrying member of the broader group of modern-day mamas who've redefined pregnancy, motherhood, and careers, I'm a little frightened by the ideas some of us are toting in our designer handbags. We are raising the next generation of leaders and thinkers, people. It's time to check ourselves. Our biases become our children's biases whether we say them out loud or not, and it seems that all the diversity and sensitivity training and rhetoric so common in the corporate world hasn't fully penetrated the mommy ranks.

And as a black woman, I am frankly appalled that I have been told by some momlogic commenters here to "get over it" because slavery is over and we have Michelle Obama. BTW, I always find this funny, because people never tell Jewish people to get over the Holocaust, which lasted in its systematic form from 1941 to 1945. But over 240 years of slavery, followed by Jim Crow laws, which only ended in 1965 -- that we should "get over" that? Please!

The point is, it is not anyone's place to tell any other person what their experience should be. Or what their reality is. Mothers trying to silence other voices because of their own opinions are practicing the worst type of hypocrisy. And just so we're clear, I will not be silenced. I am only more determined to shed light on our realities.

Recently, I was asked by European stroller sensation Teutonia to participate in their "Motherhood Designed by You" campaign. The campaign features 12 moms and their businesses who are redefining motherhood on their own terms, and I am honored to be recognized and included among these phenomenal moms and dynamic businesses. One of the points I hope to make is that redesigning motherhood is not just about stylish diaper bags and trendy lattes -- it is about redesigning ourselves and our mindsets and challenging our viewpoints to raise the best and brightest children. It is about being open, nonjudgmental, and accepting of all mommy experiences -- whether we agree with them or not.

next: Cher Speaks Out About Daughter's Sex Change
17 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous June 19, 2009, 9:30 AM

What a fabulously well worded article. I am all too aware that my response, as heartfelt as it may be, will not be nearly as eloquent or poignant.

I am a white mother, though in my world color matters for very little. It seems to be relevant here though. I was teacher trained in an Urban Diversity program which trained me to be prepared for and aware of the issues that face our diverse urban classroom populations. I learned that, while slavery is indeed over, our culture in western society is based largely on the infrastructure built during times of great inequality. Though we have moved forward as a society, by and large, racism and cultural bias is still alive and well. This is by virtue of the structures that we rely on to uphold our own “western culture”. Though we are moving toward full inclusion, we still have a long way to go.

In regards to mother’s being polarized and willing only to accept the views that they themselves espouse, I have too long agreed with this. People, and mother in particular, have become far too eager to bash each other. Never before has there been such a culture of “mommy posturing” in small and large circles, each seeking to outdo the other in their “progressiveness” or “enlightenment” as the author here so properly called it.

Thank you for this article. I enjoyed reading it.

chris June 19, 2009, 11:42 AM

Kimberly, I agree with your basic concept that as women we should be united in raising our children but I start to lose respect when the bases is on a our race. We women as a society should respect each other choices on how we raise our kids, rather we breastfeed or not, rather we work or not, rather we spank or not or no matter what choices we make. We should all raise our childs with their best interest in our hearts at all times. We should teach our child to respect and accept all other people regradless of their social status, political views, religious views or their skin color. I think when you try and build a bridge base on your skin color, you are in fact dividing the races.

Nina June 19, 2009, 1:46 PM

Kimberly, I applaud your efforts and agree with you wholeheartedly. I frequently read your articles and often find myself shaking my head in agreement. However, I try not to comment because, I have noticed that some people are just down-right mean here on momlogic. I too am a Black woman and to you I say stay strong and please continue to post your articles. I find them thought-provoking and enlightening. :-)

Stephanie June 19, 2009, 3:33 PM

Chris, while I agree with you in principle that we should not base thoughts and ideas on our skin colour, for many people it is a defining and motivating factor. Imagine if your race had been enslaved by the still dominant race for the better part of the century. There would still be some residual effects within the culture to this day. That being said, the ideal to work towards is full inclusion, with recognition of difference without segregation because of it.

Single Mom Seeking June 19, 2009, 4:57 PM

Love your spirit Kimberly! I applaud you for putting this down.

Nina points out that readers can be mean-spirited here (as a MomLogic writer, I’ve found this, too)… so I appreciate the thoughtful dialogue you’ve got going.

Monica June 22, 2009, 12:47 AM

Kimberly thank you for this article. I am one of your faithful readers since your first blog and appreciate your points of view. I have witnessed and defended some of these nonsensical comments made to you and am glad that it won’t stop you from coming here to encourage and unite all mothers. I agree even if we can’t identify with an experience there is no excuse to write it off on the “get over it list”. Whether we understand another mothers plight or not it doesn’t mean we can’t learn from it. Kudos!

J June 22, 2009, 3:46 PM

“BTW, I always find this funny, because people never tell Jewish people to get over the Holocaust, which lasted in its systematic form from 1941 to 1945.”

Please correct this misinformation - there were systematic murder of the Jews since the beginning of time. We are still a hated minority. And we are indeed told to get over it and also told that it didn’t happen. It is offensive to imply that slavery was worse/longer lasting than the prejudice that Jews still endure. I would think that as a Black woman yuo would relate strongly to the Jews.

With that correction I just wanted to add I generally enjoy your posts

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