By ANTHONIA AKITUNDE
mater mea is an online magazine that profiles the stories of working moms of color through beautiful images and compelling storytelling. Its founder and editor-in-chief, Anthonia Akitunde, is launching a fundraising campaign to keep the site going and growing. She shares with MyBrownBaby the story behind her site’s launch, and why it needs to keep going.
Two years ago American media seemed to be gripped by one important question: “Can women have it all?”
As a young professional woman with aspirations of having an enviable career and a family of my own, I was incredibly invested in knowing the answer to that question. I had eagerly read former State Department director Anne-Marie Slaughter’s much-debated Atlantic article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s roll-up-your-sleeves screed “Lean In,” expecting some insight into how to set myself up for a future that didn’t sacrifice career for becoming a mother and vice versa. And while I did find bits of wisdom in each career woman’s musings, there was one major thing I didn’t see in their stories: me.
You see, the recent media coverage of working motherhood has largely been lily white: From the stock images TV networks use for their coverage to the talking heads dissecting these think pieces, it was rare to see a woman of color discuss the unique career and lifestyle gymnastics it took for her to “have it all” in mainstream news outlets and websites.
I knew there were thousands upon thousands of working moms of color out there whose stories weren’t being told (or, if they were, the focus was on their careers and not their journey to motherhood). And so mater mea was born—to celebrate motherhood and the complexities of juggling work and family in a way that no one else was doing: with beautiful photography and compelling profiles.
mater mea has shared the stories of women from all walks of life and all types of careers, from corporate America darling, Candace Matthews, the chief marketing officer of Amway, to Broadway actress and Porgy and Bess star Alicia Hall Moran. The site is a small step toward filling out the representations of what motherhood looks like to the world, but a very important one.
I’ve been moved to tears by the stories these incredible women have shared with me and mater mea’s readers. Women like educator Takiema Bunche-Smith who lost her first-born son 37 weeks into her pregnancy. As she told me about the year of “grief work” she had to do to put herself in the place to try for another child, I thought, her story needs to be shared.
I’ve felt my own path affirmed in the story of women like lawyer LaShann DeArcy whose circuitous path included time as a dancer and as a military officer before she found her calling and place as a mother and one of her firm’s top attorneys.
And I’ve seen my hope that other women of color needed to see these stories affirmed in the overwhelming amount of support and praise the site has received since it launched.
Now, two years later and more than 35 profiles later, mater mea is poised for great things. But we’ll need your help to get there. I launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to increase the site’s frequency from twice a month to daily. Your donations will help us continue to explore the work-life balance juggle so many women today face in their pursuit of career and family.
So far I’ve raised more than $7,000 for the site. But in order to set the site up to make an even larger impact, I need to raise $55,000. These funds will go toward giving the site a much-needed upgrade, which it needs to become a daily, ad-supported website, and to pay photographers and writers to tell more motherhood stories from all over the country and around the world. Most of the stories on the site have been written and funded by myself, and the cost of creating such a high-quality product is a large strain and inhibits mater mea’s potential for growth.
Please consider donating as much as you can to help mater mea continue sharing these powerful and underrepresented stories. Your gift could be the difference between mater mea’s continued growth or ultimate shutdown.
Thank you for your continued support, and here’s to celebrating motherhood.