Black Moms ARE Different, and That's OK
November 13, 2009
'You’re so vain, you probably think this [post] is about you.'
But it’s not.
It’s about me.
And a bunch of other African-American moms who are tired of being ignored. Stereotyped. Put in a box. Left to wonder what, exactly, they’re to do with the unique circumstances that come into play when they’re raising black children in a society that all but ignores them, until something horrible happens.
What’s got me all in a tizzy?
Yet another white mom stomped onto my site last week, questioning why I write for and about moms of color. Apparently, the word “brown” in my blog title made her feel some kinda ways about my posts, subject matter, and intent, and she questioned why, if “everyone wants to be celebrated and recognized as ‘equal,’” I would “segregate” myself with a blog about skin color.
Um, you really want to make my nostrils flare? Tell me that you “don’t see color.” Or that we’re all the same -- no matter the color, race, income level, background, origin, beliefs. Or that by simply acknowledging and speaking to issues that affect black moms specifically, I’m “segregating” myself.
Let me be very clear: I’ve been a working journalist since my senior year in high school, and in my lengthy career, I’ve covered everything from murder and politics to entertainment and parenting and everything in between with great joy, care, and skill. Not every story of mine has been about black people. One of these days I’ll give you the low down on the time I interviewed George Clooney in a swanky New York City hotel, or what it was like to hold a miniature tape recorder in former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s face during a mayoral press conference.
But, I’m an African American mom with brown babies, and I take great pleasure in writing about the issues that moms of color and mothers of children of color face as we raise our kids. And while I happily co-sign the idea that at the base of it, all we moms want the same things for our children -- for them to be happy, healthy, smart, kind, honest, trustworthy, successful human beings -- we simply do not all parent the same, and there absolutely ARE issues that I deal with as an African American mom that white moms would never have to think about if they’re not raising a brown child.
A “for instance”: Last week right here on The Parenting Post, I wrote about what it takes to groom and style a little black girl's hair (a post inspired, ironically, by a raging debate about whether Angelina Jolie does a good enough job combing her black daughter's hair). Wild guess, but I'm going to go on ahead and assume that styling coarse, curly hair is not something white moms with white children think about, like, ever. But as the mother of two girls, I have to think about it EVERY DAY. Still, I can't look for information on this simple, everyday topic in most parenting books/magazines/websites/blogs that proclaim to be for and about ALL MOMS to get the valuable info I need to avoid damaging my daughters’ thick, curly manes.
Similarly, it’s hard to find in mainstream media information on how to cope with the fear that comes with raising a super smart, super sweet, super handsome, super big, super black teenage son in a society full of folks who still judge black boys by the color of their skin, rather than the content of their character.
Or how to fight against the long-held notion in our community that breastfeeding babies is nasty -- or worse, something that only white moms do.
Need I go on?
See, I write about African Americans not to point fingers at white moms, but to help black ones. Is this segregating myself? Nope. It's providing a service for those moms who NEED the information but can’t find it or who just want someone to commiserate with them -- help them sort through the beautiful struggle that comes with being black parents in America.
I do this with open arms, a lot of love, and the deep belief that though we may come from separate places and have different backgrounds, we are ALL moms who want the same things for our families, and especially our children. Sure, there are going to be times when white moms won’t necessarily identify with where I’m coming from, but there will certainly be many more times than not that they’ll be able to see something the posts that they can relate to their own lives. If I’m talking about, say, how a specific traditional soul food dish reminds me of the way we black folks celebrate Thanksgiving in our homes, well, no matter your color, if you celebrate Thanksgiving, memories of my African American mom may spark memories of Thanksgiving in your childhood home. And if you’re reading with an open mind, you might just see perspectives on family, motherhood, love and relationships that are fresh and different and interesting and eye-opening.