Tammy Rivera-Malphurs has a lot going on. She’s a mother, wife, an entrepreneur and an artist. And juggling all of those taxing and time-consuming roles can be a lot. Recently, we had a chance to speak to Tammy about all of these things. We chatted about her defending Waka’s comments about trans kids, addressing criticism about how she’s raising her daughter Charlie and the importance of taking space when she needs it. See what she had to say below.
MadameNoire: Our readers were really invested in seeing Waka and Charlie dance together during her quinceañera and how emotional she was in that moment. Do you know what she was thinking about during that dance?
Tammy Rivera: I think Charlie was really emotional because she really wanted to share that moment with her biological dad and Waka. And even though I knew, deep down, that wasn’t going to happen, I didn’t want to discourage her from that. Even though she kind of knew it wasn’t going to happen, she still had a little hope that it could and the realization for her set in during the dance.
MN: I know she’s a teenager but still that’s a painful thing. How do you handle those moments where she’s disappointed by her biological father?
Tammy: Of course I get frustrated as a mother. Who wouldn’t? But I also have to let her know, that’s his loss. Those are moments that he’s missing out. You haven’t missed out on anything. I have to let her know that has nothing to do with you. Whatever he’s dealing with, however he feels about me, Waka, or his life or himself, it has nothing to do with you. As a parent, there is no one or nothing that will ever stop me from being there for her. I don’t want her to think that anything that he does has anything to do with her. That’s a grown man and that’s his issue that he has to deal with. That’s really all I can tell her without saying what I really want to say.
MN: Charlie is growing up and you recently had her model your swimsuit line. And people had a lot to say about that. They thought she was too young for that. Did you see those comments and what did you make of them?
Tammy: I really don’t care what people say. It’s not like I had my daughter out there with her whole booty out. She had on a one piece for god’s sake. She’ll be 16 in two months, most 16-year-olds wear two pieces. And I think it’s a double standard. Even when it comes to the school sometimes, when a child is small, very slim and doesn’t have a figure then it’s okay. But if you’re a little bit curvier, you have a thigh—she can’t help it that she genetically has been given a figure. Because she has thighs and hips, people say, ‘Oh my God, it’s too grown.’ But if it was a 16-year-old with no curves and no hips, no one would have anything to say.
I’m her mother and I’m not going to put my child in any situations. She was modeling on a set with her mother. If anyone is going to watch out and protect her, it’s going to be me. But people are going to have something to say no matter what you do.
MN: Also people never question why men are looking at children in these sexualized ways.
Tammy: And that’s what I don’t understand. When I was growing up, people would say, ‘You shouldn’t dress like that because men…’ Why are you justifying a grown man looking at a child?! When I was 17, someone touched me inappropriately and I went and told a friend of mine and they said, ‘Well, maybe if you weren’t dressed like that.’ And I couldn’t believe they said that. That’s ridiculous. But people will defend men. The R. Kelly situation shows a lot. People would say ‘Oh, they were grown…’ But at the end of the day, these were children. And a grown man can manipulate the mind of a child. Their minds are not fully developed.
MN: I know recently Waka caught some flack for his comments about homosexuality in the past. You came on and defended him, saying a person has the right to change and evolve. I was wondering if you can speak to the way you’ve seen Waka grow in his stance on homosexuality and trans kids.
Tammy: I don’t even people even watched the interview that Waka did where they accused him of talking about Dwyane Wade’s daughter. The first thing he said was, ‘I can’t tell anyone how to parent.’ There is no handbook on parenting. Everyone is not going to parent the same. Just because someone wouldn’t do something with their child and another person might, that’s doesn’t make them wrong.
I stand with the community and I always teach my daughter how to live her truth and not judge people. I do feel when a person doesn’t agree with a certain thing, it’s so quick for everyone to jump in. We don’t have to agree. I might not like your hair color. That doesn’t mean I don’t like you. It’s okay to have a difference of opinion without a crazy hoopla.
I commend Dwyane Wade, I commend Zaya, Gabrielle Union and the way they’ve shown up for their family and their kids. People don’t agree with my parenting and the way I raise Charlie all the time and that’s fine. But that’s my child. I have to parent her the way that I deal with her.
Waka said he doesn’t know if he would handle it the same way. That’s okay. He doesn’t have to be hateful and homophobic because he feels that way.
Now, some of the things he’s commented on the past, I can’t even tell you. Because some of the things Waka says goes in one ear and out the other for me. You can’t control what your spouse says. Sometimes you look at your spouse and say, ‘Why’d you say that dumb a$$ sh*t?’ In our own household, we get into arguments about things he’s said or the way he said it.
I’m not no sit at home and defend my husband. I’m going to check him when he needs to be checked. But if I feel like someone has him misunderstood, then I can defend because I know his character. I know what he means and I know he means well. That’s just what it is.
MN: A couple of weeks ago, you talked about needing space. I think that’s really important. A lot of times women are taught to suffer in silence. So I was wondering if you could speak to what you meant by needing space and why it’s important for women to take that space?
Tammy: I feel like we are always looked at as we have to do this. ‘You’re the woman, you’ve got to be able to take this or handle that. Stick by your husband. Make sure you’re there for your kids. Make sure your house is together. Make sure you’re working or have your business together.’
When the f*ck is anyone saying make sure that you’re okay? I think a lot of times, us as women, especially in the Black community, we are looked at as strong. ‘You got that. That’s what strong women do. You can’t fold.’ Why the f*ck can’t we? Why can’t we have our moment? Why can’t we say, ‘Take these kids for a second. Leave me alone.’
Why can’t we take care of ourselves and our sanity, the same way men are allowed to? I feel like that’s b.s. I know I’m a strong woman and I don’t have to prove sh*t to anyone. But I also know when I mentally need a break.
You can’t do for your kids when you’re mentally stressed out. You can’t do for your husband when you’re mentally checked out. You have to be able to take care of yourself.
MN: What helps make you and Waka’s marriage work? Are you still in therapy? What things are you doing differently now that you’re further in it?
Tammy: Me and Waka are still in the same household, we’re still a family but we have both taken our space from each other, being able to clear our mental. With tv and even in real life, sometimes we focus on our marriage and our business and you don’t really get that space to understand who you are and what you want. You forget the dreams that you had. It’s okay to dream outside of your marriage. Every dream doesn’t involve your partner. There are things that you wanted to do as a child that you never got a chance to do.
People feel like ‘Oh because I’m married now, I can’t do that.’ or ‘I have to consider my partner.’ But your partner has to consider you had a life and you were a person before you joined with them. That’s the space we’re in right now.
MN: Tell us what’s going on with your music now?
Tammy: My album is finished. I just dropped my single “Baby Mama,” which was inspired by Charlie’s quinceañera. It was my way of getting some of that frustration and anger out and saying how I felt. A lot of times, rappers talk about their baby mamas and they have baby mama drama but no one talks about how these men be acting like females. No one talks about how these men do what they want to do. No one talks about how men are bitter. Just like women are bitter, men be bitter too. A lot of men use their bitterness and take it out on their kids. So let’s change the narrative and talk about how these men be acting like baby mamas some time.
Tammy’s swimsuit and resort wear line will drop later this week on May 1. You can shop the collection at T-Rivera.com