Black Moms ARE Different and That’s OK.
So, after yet another white mom stomped onto MyBrownBaby accusing me of “segregating” myself for writing about issues affecting black moms, my homegirl Akilah over at the fabulous Execumama told me that I should “never freakin’ explain again” why I do what I do. She’s right, you know; if people bothered to look around and read the actual content on MyBrownBaby, they wouldn’t get hung up on the name. But I felt like I needed to break it down so it’ll forever be broke just one mo’ gin, and this week, I did it in a much more public forum on The Parenting.com site. Here’s what I wrote:
‘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.
The essay was written for the MyBrownBaby page on the Parenting Post.
Go for it Denene. It's been years since my boys were little and I identify with every one of your posts. Have you ever heard the term jealousy? You know what happens when a woman of color gains clout like you have with the honesty on this blog. Just like a small child, one of them has to knock down the tower of blocks built with hard work. What would they do with two O's? Keep on keeping on.
Jo Ann Hernandez
BronzeWord Latino Authors
I am finding it hard to limit how I feel about this to a couple of sentences. As a white mom who reads your blog, I think it is very telling that this woman feels that you are 'segregating yourself' by the discussion of your experience as a black mom. Is this not the same as suggesting to a woman that because she would like to be considered an equal to a man, that she should never discuss publicly her experience as a woman? Ridiculous. If she cannot read your frank discussions of our differences without being made to feel uncomfortable, then I am led to believe that she may be the sort that would create the problems to begin with. Please do not take what these women say personally, Denene. As usual, a few narrow-minded individuals make us all look bad.
From another white-mom reader: Most of what you have to say is poetic and poignant regardless of color. And to the extent you speak of color, we all need more practice speaking about our differences in a constructive and meaningful way. That dialogue makes me a better mother.
…this reminds me of when I was invited to read a poem at an established nonprofit event for woman (they collect clothes to prepare them for a interview and get them "job ready" so to speak. Well I had a wonderful poem that boasted on the pride of a black woman and was asked….. "do you think using this poem might offend my white sisters who will be in attendance"? I was taken back for a moment however reluctantly wrote some spare of he moment mumble jumble and read it at their Holiday Event. It was received well…but I was turned off and have not returned to any of their "member" meetings. I still support the work and donate suits as I can but considering the majority of the woman who utilize their services are black why should they be ashamed of that. It is what it is……
You ain't lied yet!
I will tell you, you speak the truth. I looked all over the net trying to find a website that spoke to me as a black woman raising brown babies and they are slim to none!! Regardless of those who have personal issues that they have not yet been able sort through , this site is a God send to women of ALL colors who have brown babies!! Color, culture and nationality make us all different in some way, not superior, just different. The goal is for us to all be celebrated for our individuality unbiased, thats when unity truly comes together. I support alot of other sites including Parenting but I need My Brown Baby to maintain the balance of who I am as a whole. I am loving, blessed mother of 3, who also happens to be black 🙂
Much Love Denene!!
There really are differences that others might not understand. Just like moms of multiples have their own separate issues, or working moms, SAHM moms, etc., etc. Yes, we are all moms, but mom blogs are all about community, problem-solving and finding people you can identify with.
I myself read blogs by white women, black women, white dads, black dads, gay dads. I find something valuable in all of them.
Keep on keeping on and thanks to those white women who commented who get it.
that cranks my chain…why do people insist on trying to make it about segregation? as a white momma of a brown baby and 3 white babies, i'm telling you, i LOVE this blog! i LOVE the support…the information and the community. i LOVE that there's a place where i can come and read and smile and not feel condemned and judged….and i also love that this "brown" blog took the time to even feature me, a white momma, as mom of the week.
so to those who have something nasty to say, i say, 'read on or move on'…bc mbb is awesome and i wouldn't change a thing!
Never a dull moment.
Keep doing all that you are doing. The negativity is just proof that you are obviously doing something right, such as giving voice to concerns, unique experiences, and joys that weren't previously given a voice.
We love it here and we love you.
When you paint with the written word, your art falls prey to another level of scrutiny. Language is an objective tool but writing is art, and subjective. At the end of the day, you make people think and that is exactly what an artist is supposed to do. What they think is their issue, that they think is your mission- mission accomplished.
And WHOOP there it is.
ebee-dee ebee-dee thatz all folkz–!!!!
gurl let go and let God—i hope this makes your day–I BOUGHT YOU A DESIREE cd since you liked it so much on my blog–email me for details!
some will never learn.
we share experiences as MOTHERS. some things are universal: baithing, burping, raising a child.
and some are not: hair issues, teaching about race, and our history in this country.
i don't see why there can't be a space for everyone, esp since we are mostly and afterthought on mainstream mom sites.
Out of much respect and love for your blog, I will keep it nice and simple…you know how we do it 🙂
I think she's upset because she isn't brown!
I love reading your writing! I love your confidence, your eloquence and your flair (read swagga). Thanks for standing up for "us" as you stand up for yourself.
There is so much negativity in the blog community right now. It's pervasive. I've had a post about it running through my head. It must be time to get it all written out. Some people thrive on bringing others down. Keep doing what you're doing!
I'm 64 young grandmother…I accidently found your blog by following a person on Twitter…you have one of the best blogs going…please keep up the fabulous job…there's more black and white mothers that need to follow you..I will be letting many of the mother, fathers etc know about you site.
I LOVE your blog.
As a white mom, I think your blog is Awesome, and the person that would comment negatively just doesn't get it. There are differences, and it's a blessing to see your perspective; because I think (as odd as this will sound)
1. Your just extremely smart & talented as a writer, and
2. (here it comes) there are aspects of the African American culture that white people envy, whether or not they would ever admit it. Also a spiritual rhythm or warmth that sometimes lacks in white society.
(did I really say that?) I don't think you should ever feel the need to defend yourself. My Brown Baby is your Brown Baby, and it's perfect the way it is. 🙂
THERE IS NUTHIN WRONG WIT THE FACT THAT SOMETIMES WE HAFTA WAKE A LIL EARLY TO DO OUR BABY'S HAIR, I FEEL NO REMORSE ABOUT CHASTISIN MS NIYAH IN FRONT OF PEOPLE IN THE GROCERY STORE..AND EVERY OTHA PARENTING SIT IS FOCUSD ON THEM AND WHATS GOOD FOR THEM AND THEIRS…BUT IT ALWAYS AINT WHATS GOOD FOR US AND OURS…KEEP DOIN WHAT YOU DOIN..THEY CANT HAVE EVERYTHANG