I was the executive editor at Honey when I got the call from a colleague: Parenting magazine was looking for an editor and if I was interested in the position, he’d put in a word for me. I enjoyed editing profiles and fashion stories about Mary J. Blige, Nia Long and Beyonce at Honey, a now-defunct entertainment magazine for young women of color, but I was also a young mom of two little girlpies, and the idea of working at a magazine that celebrated babies and mothers—and respected working moms by letting them actually see their kids at night—was intriguing. I bit. A month later, I was hired as articles editor, responsible for assigning and editing stories about child development, motherhood, and crafts and products for children, plus overseeing and writing the annual Toys Of the Year issue.
It didn’t take long before I became madly passionate about the subject matter; not only was I editing stories about what I truly loved—my children and motherhood—but I was getting an invaluable education about the best ways to raise children, from moms who struggled with, thought about and wanted all the same things I want for my kids: for them to be healthy, happy, smart, thoughtful, kind, successful children. I’ve worked with some incredible editors, writers, teachers, pediatricians and child experts during my decade as a an editor, writer, columnist and blogger for Parenting, and every word that’s crossed my computer on the magazine’s behalf was incredibly useful in my journey as a mom.
But just as much as I was learning, I like to think that I was teaching during my time at Parenting—teaching that moms of color matter, too. See, for most of my time there, I was the only African American editor in the office (a second was hired just as I was about to leave to become a full-time author and freelance writer), and at the top of my agenda was diversity. It’s not that this wasn’t on the other editors’ radars; it’s just that it wasn’t something they necessarily thought about as much or as deeply as I. Former editor-in-chief Janet Chan told me once that she appreciated my ability to both sit at the table and “helicopter” over it—to be able to know the subject matter but have a keen eye for making sure the voices of moms of color were included and respected.
Of this, I was most proud.
It was this, after all, that formed the basis for MyBrownBaby, the blog I created for African American moms looking to lend their critical but all-too-often ignored voices to the national parenting debate. It is a place where African American parents and parents of black children and their opinions matter—where they are heard, respected and revered. For their poignancy and strength. For their intelligence and authenticity.
Because they deserve it.
While I intended for black moms to call MyBrownBaby home, I certainly hoped that all moms would feel comfortable sitting on the MyBrownBaby stoop and commiseratating/learning/teaching about their views on motherhood, too. This is done 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. I’d like to think that when read with an open mind, MyBrownBaby readers just might see perspectives on family, motherhood, love and relationships that are fresh and different and interesting and eye opening.
I am forever grateful to Parenting magazine and all of the incredible editors with whom I worked and who trusted my editing skills, opinions, writing, expertise and voice in both the magazine and online; it was they who stoked my passion for parenting—a passion that led to MyBrownBaby, an incredible venture that, in my heart, outshines the 19 books I’ve penned as a New York Times bestselling author, my award-winning years as a political reporter and each and every entertainment profile I’ve ever written (including the ones on George Clooney, Jay-Z, Janet Jackson and Angela Bassett—cross my heart).
And so I thank you, Parenting, for 10 incredible years. Though we are parting ways, the fire you inspired will continue on MyBrownBaby.com.
Here’s to a fruitful and beautiful 2012!
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.
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boo!!! i haven’t read Parenting in awhile, but you were my favorite part of that mag! oh well. guess i’ll keep coming here. 🙂
Onward and upward, Mama! Honey, Parenting, and er’body who had the privilege of basking in your Light were made better as a result of it!
We’re happy to have MBB, and we celebrate the constant evolution of You!
Love this and love your work! Look forward to where you take us next!
Thanks for the reflection on your work with Parenting. I hope someone else will step into your shoes because diversity is still needed in publications like Parenting. Wishing all the best with MBB and your other adventures in the new year!
Congratulations on 10 beautiful years!
Can’t wait to see what’s next!
Parenting has always been one of my favorite magazines. For awhile I was a new (and single) mom to a wonderful little boy, and Parenting really helped me answer some of my biggest questions. I looked forward to the “Toys of the Year” every year, too. Now I am a mother to two boys ages 7 and 3, and I am no longer single. I have a box full of Parenting Magazine because I thought the information was just to valuable to throw away. I use them for reference, cut things out and stick it on the fridge, and pass them on to friends. Thank you for your contributions! I love MBB, and I think you reach mothers from all backgrounds. As a mom, English teacher, and (sometimes) writer, I love reading your posts. This is one Puerto Rican mommy who loves your site <3
On to the next!! I know that big things are poppin’ (pardon all the jay Z references) for you and MBB! I can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store for you ;0)
Cheers to a new chapter for you!
I think that’s a sign of a good leader – one who knows when it’s time to move on, so that someone else can take your spot and be elevated. Congrats to you, Denene for taking that next step! I truly respect (and enjoy) your work here at MBB. 🙂
Wow! Those were super great gigs. You have a beautiful entrepreneur spirit so I know that your future will lend you nothing but success! I aspire to one day humbly follow your lead.
Congrats on your success thus far. I look forward to being part of and reading the continues success of MyBrownBaby!
I’ve always loved seeing your name in Parenting mag, I am a subscriber, an avid reader, and a mom of two brown boys. Seeing your face in the magazine did mean something special to me as a mom of color and you will be missed there, but I know I can always pop over here to “see” you.
I’m going to miss your advice in Parenting and just really getting a kick out of just seeing your name and pic.
But I so can’t wait to see what’s next for you!
I’m sad you’re leaving Parenting. I loved your presence, and am often disappointed that there aren’t more moms and kids of color in the pages and online. I hope they find someone to take your place that can keep the mantra alive that brown parents matter too.
As they say, Goodbye’s are such sweet sorrow…literally…there may be some sadness to leave a part of you behind, but new growth and freedom are so sweet! Looking forward to seeing what’s in store for MBB. 🙂
All the best in 2012.
Beautifully written Denene. You are an amazing woman and inspire me on a daily basis. You’re the reason I’ve been able to dive head first into writing about being a mother, and parenting, and I hope to continue to develop my voice and have an ounce of the success you’ve had in your career that’s still flourishing.
I’ll be here on MyBrownBaby and hopefully along for this ride a long long time! Congratulations on your move!
I too loved seeing your name in Parenting magazine. Here’s to the next step in your path of success. I have no doubt we’ll see Denene in print again, just be sure to let us know where so I can subscribe to that mag! *smile*
I loved seeing your work in Parenting. You are so talented and gifted. I hope someone of color steps in your place.
Can’t wait to see what 2012 brings for you!
AW, I wish you all the best!
I love reading your farewell post. You are true inspiration and I love reading your pieces in Ebony.
All the best.
One door closes and another one opens. Love this farewell. You are such a great writer and editor. I look forward to more words of expression from you.