Kimberly Seals Allers: It probably comes as no surprise that I'm constantly amazed by the double standards that cut across racial lines in the parenting world. For some time, it's been really bothering me (no, really!) that a large and still-growing group of white women has built a successful blogging and publishing platform and branding niche around parenting while drunk (or at least very tipsy).
A black mom would NEVER be able to get away with making money by extolling the virtues of alcoholism and childrearing. If I receive one more mom book to review with a cutesy title featuring some mom's need for alcohol, I'm going to scream. Or have a very strong cocktail.
Witness "Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay," by Stephanie Wilder-Taylor. This is where it all began. Wilder-Taylor, who also penned the really funny blog "Make Mine a Double: Tales of Twins and Tequila," followed up the huge success of her first book with a second tome, "Naptime Is the New Happy Hour." (Just love the cover with the two wine bottles in the diaper bag!)
Then came similar books from other authors: "The Three Martini Playdate: A Practical Guide to Happy Parenting," by Christie Mellor; "Baby, Mix Me a Drink," by Lisa Brown and (a man gets in on it!) "Daddy Needs a Drink," by Robert Wilder.
There are a few non-mom ones, too, which also speak to my white-girls-get-to-joke-about-being-alcoholics point: "You Can't Drink All Day if You Don't Start in the Morning," by Celia Rivenbark; "Crazy Aunt Purl's Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair," by Laurie Perry and Perry's follow-up book, "Home Is Where the Wine Is."
Now, don't get me wrong: I love humor and caustic wit as much as the next mom who doesn't take herself (or parenting) way too seriously. I get it. I also totally love my evening glass of wine as much as the next stressed-out mom. (As my children know, when Mommy has her "special cup," stay away for a few minutes.) But a black woman would never be able to write a book promoting the virtues of PWD (Parenting While Drunk), or even close to it.
Let me rephrase. She could write the book, but no one would ever pay to publish it. And she would likely become the poster child for the next Republican-led black-mom-bashing campaign.
After successfully writing three books of my own (and coauthoring a fourth), I've been dying to write my own humorous tale of a black suburban mom on the edge -- minus the alcohol problem. So far, I've gotten no nibbles. I should change the proposal to my secret working title: "Hennessy in my Starbucks Cup." (That's a little trick I learned from the white moms in my daughter's dance class -- putting alcohol in your Starbucks cup, that is. The Hennessy part was my idea!) Maybe then I will get more of a response.
But we all know that won't happen.
The reason it works for white women is, it's assumed that a white woman is educated, capable of drinking all the time and still parenting, and is really only joking. But Stephanie Wilder-Taylor, once the poster child of PWD, wasn't joking: She later admitted that she had a real problem and had gone into recovery. (When she put up that fateful post nearly a year ago, saying that she needed to put down the cocktail and that she was done drinking, the clamor, outrage and cries of treason could be heard across the country.)
If a black mother joked that she drank all the time while parenting, somebody would call Child Protective Services in a heartbeat. (Remember when my neighbor thought I was spanking?) White women are safe. There is no stigma attached to their drinking -- in fact, there is even a trendiness, and some lifestyle cachet. My drinking would scream "unfit mother" in glaring lights.
Because black women are barely viewed as smart, savvy moms in the first place, the thought of us touting and even celebrating drinking-on-the-job would be preposterous. And we certainly couldn't build a marketable and profitable branding platform on the idea. Nobody, not even I (and you guys think I'm pretty bold), would go there. I'm not foolish enough to assume I have that luxury.
I love the liberty and freedom that white people have in this country. They get to be who they are without any preconceived stereotypes or judgments. I just wish that privilege extended to us all.