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).
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.