All Articles Tagged "black mothers"
By j.n. salters
This letter is for my mother. Our mothers. Grandmothers. Aunts. Sisters. And all of the other black women who continue to raise black and brown warriors in this battlefield we call America. Who constantly find ways to make ends meet—in a world that continually fails to acknowledge your worth and beauty—just to keep smiles on our faces. To the only women who can grow roses from concrete. Turn scraps into Thanksgiving feasts. Who continue to love hard and wholeheartedly even when the world attempts to steal your joy. Still you rise.
I just want to say thank you. And that you are appreciated. Loved. Beautiful. Needed. I need you. WE NEED YOU. You deserve so much more than the words on this page. Than your lived realities. Than the media portrayals that negate your wonder. And caricature your splendor. Than the statistics that mock your circumstance. Ignoring your God-like abilities to raise invisible toy soldiers into Gabby Douglases and Quvenzhané Wallises. Turning forgotten flesh into souls on fire.
You deserve to have your faces carved into mountains. Plastered on dollar bills covering the faces of presidents who have stolen from you. Used your image against you. Lied to you. Made your plight invisible. You deserve to have your brown skin on every milk carton and news segment that privilege missing bodies that do not look like yours or your children’s. On the cover of every newspaper that fills its pages with stories of your fabricated inferiority. Leaving your existence in the margins. Near the end. At the back. We are Rosa Parks.
I wish everyone could see you from my eyes. Read the deep history embedded in your rich skin. The pigment of your imagination. The secrets that you hold in the arch of your back. How the sway of your hips creates masterpieces out of thin air. Reclaiming the fetishized movements of Sarah Baartman. How your thick-lipped words echo the endurance of Sojourner Truth. Ida B. Wells. Wilma Rudolph. Harriet Tubman. The everlasting effervescence of your soul that refuses to be broken. The miniature North Stars shining from your crescent-like eyes, leading us lost ones to freedom. Giving us the ability to dodge stray bullets. Dreams deferred. Project hallways turned Middle Passages.
I pray that they will someday see you. In me. In US.
One of your daughters
Mother’s Day is Sunday, and while it’s a day to celebrate mom and all she does, it’s also a good time to take a look at all she has to face to get it done.
FinancesOnline.com and Ruby Media Corporation have compiled an infographic with a variety of stats that show some of the socioeconomic hardships black mothers face in the US. For example, according to the graphic, “Black American mothers tend to have more uninsured children than whites and Asians but not Hispanics.”
“Some may find the infographic uncomfortably touching on race issue this Mother’s Day—a happy day for all mothers—but this story presents an opportunity to address an age-old social inequity that extends to this day,” the site says.
We have the full infographic below. Is there anything here that you find shocking?
A couple of months ago, we were asking women to share their thoughts on natural vs. hospital births and one of our readers shared a fascinating story, that caught our attention. At our request she expounded and submitted her story to share with our audience.
By Kelli Iyanu
On the morning of August 1, 2010, I went into labor with my fifth child. I was overdue by a week and not it expecting to happen. All my children – except for my oldest – were overdue. The previous night, my hubby never went to bed. He said he was on edge and he didn’t know why. I woke up that morning after feeling like I wet my underwear. Even though this was my fifth child, my water had never broken before and the feeling was strange. I thought I had to use the bathroom.
My labor pains felt like really bad gas so I continued to sit on the toilet waiting for “something else” to happen. When the “gas pains” got stronger, I told my husband. We packed all our children up and were on our way to The Birth Cottage in Tallahassee, Florida. We live ten miles outside the city limits, but thought we could make it. I wasn’t screaming, but my husband decided to blast Earth, Wind, and Fire and make our children sing along so they wouldn’t be scared or confused by the situation. We were still at least five miles outside the city limits when the baby’s head popped out without me pushing. She literally was dropping out of me.
My husband pulled over on the shoulder of I-10, pulled her the rest of the way out, hopped back in, and took off. Luckily, he decided not to cut the umbilical cord. Our baby cried a little and laid her head down. I assumed she was tired from being born and had gone to sleep. I was out of it and in shock.
When we got to The Birth Cottage, our midwife, Layla Swisher, cried “Oh, no, she’s blue!” She grabbed the baby and immediately began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation! Layla saved my baby’s life. My husband did such a great job that day. And our other four children were real troopers that day. I’m so proud of them. I’m also proud of my midwife, Layla Swisher and her mom Alice Sanpere at The Birth Cottage in Tallahassee, Florida. They’ve birthed all of my children and if I was going to have another one, I’d want them right there again! In case you were wondering, we named our daughter Nandi (after Shaka Zulu’s mother) Abiona (Yoruba meaning born while traveling). She has been a wonderful little girl and a beautiful completion of our family. Oh, and she was born to “Kalimba Story” by Earth Wind and Fire. Lol.
If you have an interesting story you’d like to share with the Madame Noire audience, you can send it to us at editors_at_madamenoire.com
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Minority students have less access to advanced courses, more inexperienced teachers and face tougher disciplinary consequences than their counterparts, a new trove of federal data shows, affirming long-held beliefs about disparities in the classroom.
Civil rights advocates expect this data, collected during the 2009-10 school year, will provide new ammunition for compliance reviews, advocacy and lawsuits involving educational fairness in America.
“The undeniable truth is that the everyday educational experience for too many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said on an embargoed phone call Monday afternoon. “It is our collective duty to change that.” Duncan is expected to make similar remarks Tuesday at Washington, D.C.’s Howard University.
The numbers, to be released Tuesday, are jarring. Black students are more than three-and-a-half times as likely as white students to be suspended or expelled, according to the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights’ survey, known as the “Civil Rights Data Collection.” More than 70 percent of students arrested in school or handed over to law enforcement were black or Hispanic.
Get the rest of the story at Black Voices.com.
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For most of us when we were really young, like toddler-aged, our parents were the closest things to super heroes. Our mothers were beautiful, our daddies had super human strength and both of them were smart so we trusted their judgment. Then something changed. Call it puberty, call it experience, call it our parents’ very real flaws, whatever it is there comes a time when we start realizing our parents don’t know everything but we, their offspring, we definitely do. No one needs to tell us anything because it’s our life to live and in our minds, we’ve done all the growing and maturing we need to. Ironically, right around this same time most of our parents are talking to us more than ever, trying to guide us in the right direction. While we may not have appreciated what they had to say, with a little time and a lot of maturity, we came to see the truth behind their words.
1. Your attitude is not cute
I hit puberty pretty early, so my teenage angst started when I was like 10. I had a problem with everything. Everything got on my nerves, everything was beneath me, no one understood me. In essence, woe was the 10 year old, perfectly healthy, well-fed, loved and cared for me. I’d probably still be walking around with a stank face if it weren’t for my mother telling me, with a look of slight disgust and severe irritation that my lil attitude was not cute. Whoa. My pre-adolescent mind was blown. While I could have ignored the truth, I really took heed to my mother’s words. And I’m so glad I did. While, we’re not all like this, we know the last thing the world needs is another black woman with an attitude.
Unfortunately, there are still some places that will treat you like a second class citizen simply because you’re black. While many of us recognize this fact, we wouldn’t assume that the place where we bring our children into the world, the hospital, would be so riddled by prejudice and racism.
But believe it. This was the case for writer Denene Millner who gave birth to her first child at a hospital in New York City.
You won’t believe how poorly she was treated on what was supposed to be a happy, memorable occasion. You can read her story at Black Voices.com.
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Black mothers are the glue of the black family. They take care of business and hold it together for the children. Whether she is doing it by herself or with her partner you can’t deny her strength and conviction. For some odd reason it seems like black mothers all have the same sayings. I have been out and overheard a black mother reprimanding her child and I smiled to myself a little bit. What she was saying to her child reminded me of what my mother, aunts and even grandmother would say to me growing up. I’m the last person to want to be cliche and group all black mothers together, but we all know if our mother never said one of these phrases, we know a black mother who has.
What did I tell you about __________!?!?
You can insert anything into this blank. Mothers tell you something ONE time. If you don’t get it the first time, be prepared to be held accountable the next time you mess up. This could range from “What did I tell you about jumping on the couch?” to “What did I tell you about playing in my makeup?”
Academically, professionally, economically—black women continue to outpace black men. And, I can’t help but wonder if much of that could be attributed to how some single black mothers raise their daughters in comparison to their sons.
In recent years the percentage of black children born into single parent households, an overwhelming majority of which headed by women, has skyrocketed. Nearly three-fourths of black boys and girls are being raised in broken homes—brokenness stemming from the fact that fatherlessness often creates imbalance.
Women understand womanhood. Mothers know what it is like to be a little girl—a teenager, a young adult. We connect with our daughters and, in a sense, often push them to heights we have never reached. Despite our own successes or shortcomings, it is that personal understanding and connection that enables single mothers to raise women. We know how, when and where to utilize discipline and praise to guide them in the right direction.
But, when it comes to boys the journey isn’t so clear. Mothers do not have firsthand experience walking in the shoes of men. While this world may be a cold place for men and women alike, the lives of young, black men can be especially challenging—dealing with everything from drug-dealing stereotypes to the anticipations of failure, intellectual inadequacy. When little black girls go to school teachers do not expect for them to fail in the same way they do little black boys. Black women are not profiled by law enforcement the same way as black men. And, employers are much more inclined to hire us.
Still, too many mothers coddle their sons through life—loving them as boys but not raising them to be men.
My three children are very young (14 months, two and three to be exact). However, I have experienced some of what it is like to train up little girls versus boys and how mothers subconsciously render their daughters differently. My two sons are the oldest, daughter is the baby girl, and our household operates very much in the way one would expect—which is why I am grateful to have my husband there for balance.
Offsetting discipline with praise and reward comes easier with my daughter than my sons. My expectations for all of them are high but enforcing rules and maintaining consistency seems to come naturally with her. It is somehow more emotionally taxing to see my boys cry or get reprimanded, and I can almost always come up with a way to their excuse poor behavior. However, it is that mama’s boy inclination that fosters irresponsibility, unaccountability and laziness. It is what creates the imbalance in households minus dad and ultimately stunts the developmental process.
Think about the mothers who work two jobs to buy expensive video games for their teenage sons who make no effort to keep a steady job and bring home subpar grades. Think about the mothers whose adult sons live at home and have multiple children of their own being raised in others homes. Sadly, the situations are not as uncommon as they should be.
All the while, we are also teaching our daughters to expect more of themselves than the men around them—to give what they do not deserve, to pawn their faults off to circumstance.
Granted there is no cookie-cutter way to parent and there is only so much one person can do. Nevertheless, it is important that we start consistently holding our sons to higher standards and placing the same boundaries on them as we do our daughters.
If anything, we should probably be more stringent and utterly expectant, as more is required of them—everything times ten.
LaShaun Williams is a Madame Noire contributor and columnist whose work has appeared in the New York Times and across several popular sites, such as HuffPost Black Voices and the Grio. You can visit her blog at lashaunwilliams.com or follow her on Twitter @itsmelashaun and Facebook.
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A couple of weeks ago we asked our readers to submit personal or unique occurrences they had experienced. We received this story from, Tracey Kenard. In this inspiring story Tracey explains how she left a dead end relationship, raised her son and learned to appreciate the beauty in every day.
Nearly 25 years ago, I was a young bride with a young husband. We had a baby immediately but I already had signs that the marriage was not going to work. We were too young and too immature. So, after I had the baby, my ex husband got heavy into drugs. Clearly, he always was but I guess I was blinded by his light. So as things went from bad to worse I tried to support us and our new baby, pay the bills, etc.
Things finally got to be enough for me when the ex had taken to not coming home. And when he did, he would usually take something and go right back out. He was taking our wedding gifts & selling them for crack. The final straw came about a week later when I was watching TV, having not seen him for 2 days, he walked in, unplugged the TV & walked out with it! Yes, while I was watching it, never once asking or checking on the baby.
Right then, I got up, packed all of my newborn son’s clothes, took them to a friend’s house and told her as I bring things to her, keep them in the trunk of her car. We did this for about 2 more days, then I was ready to make my exit. On the day I was leaving my husband, he came home!! Of all days. He thought I was leaving for work, as usual, and asked if he could cook breakfast, etc. I told him no thanks. He offered to ‘watch’ the baby as opposed to the sitter, yet I said no thanks. I bundled up the baby, looked at the ex and said ‘see ya later.’ He said ‘see you after work.’
That was 24 years ago, and the last time I ever saw him. I walked out, my girlfriend picked me up in front of our apt. building w/my son’s clothes; took me to my job where I told my boss (to whom I had grown very close) that I needed to quit & get my final paycheck. I went next door to the travel agency, bought a one-way ticket to Ohio, got to the airport, and was standing in my parents’ kitchen four hours later, 3000 miles away from Los Angeles.
I left with the clothes I had on my back. I left all weddings gifts (no time or space to be materialistic), but most importantly – I left my husband because I was not going to raise my son in that environment. I was in Ohio one week and found a job at the local hospital entering emergency room records, and climbed up & up from there. God truly blessed and watched out over me and my boy. By the time my son was 2, I had bought a car; by the time he was 4, I bought our first house. I never looked back to L.A. once. I had/have family there, so I’ve been back plenty to visit, but I never want to live there again. That experience gave me a horrible taste in my mouth for L.A., and all I went through there.
Did I ever speak with the ex again, you wonder? (LOL!) Well, a year later after I “got kidnapped” (which is what he told my parents when he didn’t know where I was), my sister (who still lived in L.A.) asked me to call him and put his mind at ease so he would quit bugging her about what happened and where I was. So I called him. It felt soooo strange talking to him – my hands were shaking even over the distance.
I told him our son was fine, healthy, big, & handsome, yet had been diagnosed as autistic; he was born with “Fragile X disease” (missing chromosome in women) which made him mentally disabled. This all went over the ex’s head (which it would because I knew nothing of it until the doctors explained it to me); HOWEVER, ex asked, “What are you going to do with him?” What??? Do with him? At that moment, I had another “aha” moment that I was so glad I left when I did. Could you imagine me trying to hold it all down & raise an autistic child with a guy with drug problems?
I don’t remember anything more that was said over the phone. I just remember after we spoke of our son, I hung up. I think he was still talking.
Today, my son is an oh-so-handsome, 6 foot, 24 year old young man. He’s beautiful (as my ex was – they’re like twins), he graduated from ‘regular’ high school & marched across the stage with his class and a huge smile on his face, received his diploma and danced a jig in front of everyone, which set the place on fire with laughs. Him in his cap & gown… after all we had struggled through to get to that very moment. He had been in early school intervention for disabled learning since he was three years old – then finally at the age of 20 – he was DONE!
It also meant so much to have my mom there to see him graduate (my real father & step dad had died some years earlier) because she was there from day one. It’s her house (where I grew up) where I found comfort & safety to start my life over as a young mother. It was mom who recommended we take Son to the doctor because he wasn’t progressing as a ‘normal’ baby would. So it was very important that we were blessed to have “Gran” watch her boo walk that stage. Tears everywhere! LOL!
Also, today, my Son is a member of the Special Olympic family. We have formed such close bonds with the other families. What a grounding experience. They’re like our extended family always. The athletes have basically grown up together! My Son is amazingly athletic & has been playing baseball, basketball and also running track for the last few years so he’s a triple sportsman. He is a super fast runner so he has tons of gold & silver medals from track meets over the years. We travel all over the place with sporting events.
He also works full time at the WorkShops, earns his own money and helps me pay bills. It’s an amazing journey being the mother of such a person and trying my best to teach him to be self-sufficient so he can be a functioning adult in this society when I’m no longer around one day. In the meantime, I’m so blessed that God chose and trusted me to raise this special child. He teaches me each day to see nothing but the bright side, everyday. Every morning before he gets on the bus to go off to work, we hug and he says, ‘mom – is this a beautiful day, or what?’ no matter what the weather.
And I always smile, hug him tight & say, ‘it certainly is!!’
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I can honestly say that 9 times out of 10 my mom is right on point when it comes to life advice and what not. It’s scary how right she is. But she is a woman, a person, an imperfect creature, meaning everything she’s said hasn’t been a gem. None of her shortcomings are reflected on this list but some “what the hell?!?”comments from my other female family members are present. Have you ever heard any of these?