Nia Long & Sons On Essence Cover: Black Celebrity Single Moms Are Worthy of Celebration, Too (UPDATE)

UPDATE: This piece, on Nia Long’s cover story in Essence, has been updated with the actress’s quotes about marriage and motherhood and her choice to remain single. 

Nia Long is gracing the August 2012 issue of Essence magazine with her sons, Masai, 11 and baby Kez—looking every bit as stunning today as she did when we fell in love with her decades ago in Boyz N the Hood and love jones, and repping hard for us 40-something moms who stay fit, fly and blessed with the ability to be good moms.

In the piece, the 41-year-old star waxes poetic on embracing life as a single mom, her relationship with Kez’s father, fiancé Ime Udoka, her recent connection with her dad and living a fulfilled life. “I’m in my forties, post baby and I’m thinner than I’ve been in years,” Nia tells Essence. “The last step will be letting my hair go natural. That’s when you’ll know I’m free…”

“Marriage is not a priority for me. I’m not saying I’ll never do it; It’s just not where we are as a family,” the Mooz-lum star, 41, reveals in the August issue of Essence.

However, although confident in her choices, Long isn’t oblivious to the constant scrutiny from being in the public eye. “I’ll be at home with my man, having a perfectly loving time, and I’ll see all these comments on some site about how wrong I am for not being married,” she says. “I don’t feel less loved or less loving because I’m not married.”

Admitting she has “never seen a marriage work,” Long is instead focused on finally having reached “emotional maturity” — from her life with Udoka to her relationship with Massai’s father. “Massai’s dad and I have had the most challenging times, and I wasn’t always sure we wouldn’t end like my mother and father,” she says. “But we’ve arrived at a place where I can truly say he’s not a baby daddy, he’s my friend, finally. He is an amazing father.”

The mom-of-two has also recently reconciled with her own father—a growing bond that has allowed her to reevaluate and evolve in her personal life. “I’m a lot calmer. Less clingy and demanding. When Ime has to be gone for long stretches at a time, as he had to the first few months after Kez was born, I took it as an opportunity to nest,” she explains. “It had been a minute since I had an infant and I had to get back into the rhythm of being a new mom. I really enjoyed having the space to do that at my own pace.”

Long adds that her life with her family of four is very much wanted — and perfectly planned. “Motherhood is not easy, but it’s natural,” she says. “I worked hard to have the career I wanted, but I’ve also been deliberate about my personal life. None of this is a mistake.”

Of course, her beautiful cover does not come without controversy. Apparently, the headline—”Nia Long: Single, Satisfied & Raising Her Boys”—has some folk feeling some kind of way about celebration of single motherhood by Nia and Essence. I dared wade into the comment section of the YBF, where I first spotted the gorg cover, and there, people are going ape crap over the fact that Nia is unmarried and has two children by two different men. Witness:

I get so SICK of seeing Nia Long. This woman is UNMARRIED being paraded around like she is some SAINT. Nia Long is just a TYPICAL UNWED mother. There is nothing special about her at all.

Wow. Just… wow.

I have to say, I’m consistently amazed at how personal people take it when a single African American mom gets some shine for being a good mother to her children, sans the ring. Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Taraji P. Henson, Halle Berry, Nia—black people reserve a special kind of vitriol for these mothers, calling them and their children all out their names, with absolutely no regard for the fact that each of them is smart, beautiful, accomplished and, by most accounts, passionate about their babies and their roles as moms. Each of them CHOSE to have their babies with men whom they loved but either were not ready or did not want to make the big commitment with. How, exactly, does their choice not to marry the fathers of their children personally affect you? Are you any richer or poorer because of their decisions? Are your kids missing out on something because Nia Long has yet to marry the father of baby Kez? Is the Earth about to spin off its rotational axis because Lauryn and Erykah and Nia’s children mirror the 70-plus percent of black children in American being raised in a single-parent household?

And why, exactly, do we not call Angelina Jolie, Kourtney Kardashian, Padma Lakshmi, Kate Winslet, Madonna, Kate Hudson—the list of non-black single moms is damn-near infinite—all kinds of hookers and hoes and irresponsible and nasty and sinful and evil and, gasp, unwed mothers, when they grace the covers of magazines and prance across gossip sites and entertainment TV with their babies, being touted as “great moms”?

In the now infamous words of Erykah Badu when folk questioned her choice to have her babies out of wedlock: Kick rocks… Call Tyrone… Pack light…  and if this post is not clear, Kiss My Placenta with all of that. Word.

And congrats to Nia Long, not only for gracing the July 2012 cover of Essence magazine with her adorable sons, but for showing that there is nothing more beautiful than an African American mom who is taking care of her family, loving herself and striving to live a fulfilled life on her own terms. Instead of criticizing, we should be taking notes.


1. EBONY Love: Nia Long, Common and MyBrownBaby Bare It All! 
2. Erykah “Badoula” And The Business of Birthing: Can Midwifery Help Stem Black Infant Mortality Rates?
3. Going It Alone: Survey Says Black Mothers Get Little Help, Support While Giving Birth
4. Tackling Black Infant Mortality Rates—Without Stereotyping Black Mothers

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Denene Millner

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.


  1. I totally agree. The principle here is to parent responsibly; and that looks different for different people. Whether by single, two, co-parenting, or a village children need love, attention, and a healthy home. That is all.

  2. Love your post! Thanks!

  3. Why don’t we call out white famous single moms and why do we call out black famous single moms? My guess is it is because how our community is suffering because of one-adult household families. We are being crushed under the weight of the outcomes associated with families who are headed by one parent. Glamour, glitz, and movie roles can’t take away from the huge problem we have in our community that star power is helping to normalize. It would be okay to normalize this trend if it weren’t killing us in so many ways, but it is. So when Erykah has three kids by three men, and Nia has two kids by two men, it just reminds us that we have huge huge inner issues that are preventing us from staying together. I think people get scared when they realize that having money and being famous cannot even serve as means to get the healing we need. Our society teaches us that once we reach a certain SES level, we will not be subject to certain kinds of problems, but it is obvious that what is needed is inner growth. Being a great mom is to be applauded, and fathers in stable homes are needed too. There have been many a great mothers who have done their best, but have lost their children to many societal ills because fathers weren’t in their homes to assist them.

    • I agree with all of this. Should black celeb (or non-celeb) women be subjected to vitriol because of being single mothers, of course not. But I don’t think this is the best course for anyone black, white, or any other race. Also, because so many young blacks look up to celebs, the “glamourization” of single motherhood by celebs is off-putting.

  4. I’m sorry , but I can’t agree with the theory of “they are doing it, so why can’t we?” when it comes to people of color celebrating single motherhood (either by choice of accident) in the public eye. The facts is, single moms can get the job done raising well-rounded, positive, kids in our society (I know my mom did) but the reality of that life choice is much harder on a non-celebrity single mom than Nia Long and other celebrities make it seem.

    Why celebrate what is percieved as the norm in society instead of celebrating the traditional two parent household? I have a 14 year old step-daughter (daughter) and we want her to see that being a single mom, or being unwed and having multiple children by different men is not common practice and a very hard lifechoice, and even if my husband and I teach her that in our home, it’s a hard enough battle counter-acting what she sees on TV, in music and print on a daily basis that goes against what we are trying to teach her.

    Just look at the statistics of children that grown up fatherless or without their dad’s in the home:

    So why not put the marriages and families that are positive and are making it work in the spotlight more often? Those marriages that last? Those parents that are making things work inspite of various obstacles? Those beautiful men and women of color that love each other and their children on a daily basis? There are more Barack and Michelle Obama’s that the world needs to know about, and we should celebrate them as well, not just single moms.

  5. Denene, Just wanted to say that Barack Obama is on the July Issue of Essence. Nia is on the August Issue which thanks to you I am about to go looking for it now. She is a beautiful woman with very handsome sons. I don’t care what anyone thinks. Those children are here and she has the money to take care of them. Love you Nia. Thanks again Denene.

  6. When I had my daughter, I relied so heavily on my husband. I couldn’t even get off the couch to eat those first few days. He’s there to help with diapers, we take turns when the other is tapped out and keep each other generally sane. Motherhood with a partner immediately made me value motherhood without a partner. I cannot even imagine the daily courage and struggle it takes to finish a simple task when you don’t have that support. Many kudos to single moms. I wish their was a single moms day so we could celebrate these brave souls 🙂

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.