Kimberly Seals Allers submitted this post to us. She is an award-winning business journalist, editor of mochamanual.com (a weekly online magazine for moms of color), and author of both "The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy" and "The Mocha Manual to Turning Your Passion into Profit." Kimberly is also a divorcing mother of two and lives in Long Island, NY.
This reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend recently about her worries about her students. My question was, who is in these kids' lives encouraging them and inspiring them to be guided by their interests and passions? I suspected that there weren't enough people getting INTIMATELY involved in young black people's REAL LIVES and that perhaps we need to work on how to make getting involved an easier process. Perhaps 25+ year olds would get involved more if there was an easy way for them to fit into the lives of younger black kids without having to initiate the process themselves. Afterall, more people prefer to get in where they fit in rather than pioneer a collective effort. Granted, this is for various reasons but, still, that's just the reality we live in.
She mentioned that there are many black women who are taking care of these kids as if they were their own. Yet, while that is vital for their survival, I think focusing primarily on survival has its downside. As a young black boy it was the combination of basic care AND advanced challenges that inspired me to not only survive, but also to try and live an honest life, full of passion -- confident and at peace with myself.
I do not think that maternal vs. paternal matters. What matters is that a child be simultaneously protected (so he can survive) AND guided (towards his passion and life purpose). Otherwise, I think what we see is a community where many grown black men are mere man-children -- they have survived, but they never learned the reason why they should live. It's no surprise to me that a person like this would trick off money and value material items and physical pleasure above many of life's other, more important, lessons and experiences.
What I'm saying, and what I think this article says very well, is that as communities, we need to make sure that we are not just solely fighting for the survival of our youth. We need to make sure that we keep them alive and healthy, while also assisting them in finding their own reasons to live -- passion, interests, purpose. It's not enough to just nurture and protect the physical, we must also nurture and protect the mental and the spiritual. Otherwise we're merely ensuring the survival of man-boys -- black zombies whose presence in our communities can often times be more destructive than productive, not because of any fault of theirs, but because their teachers, guardians and communities ensured their survival but failed to inspire them.
(Mom Logic) I have a gripe. I hate to start off airing grievances, but I figured I'd get this one off my chest so I can move on to other things. So here it is: there's a dominant mommy culture in this country and its face is mostly white and affluent.
That bothers me because Black mothers have an important perspective, unique insights, and many of the same across-the-board issues as all moms, but we are often overlooked in all the great mommy debates. We aren't seen as the thinkers in this mommy movement, not respected as an important perspective in shaping the future of say, maternity leave and childcare issues, nor is our journey in motherhood told in cutesy books or network sitcoms.
My fear is that there's some dangerous subliminal messaging here and the message is this; my job as a Black mother is simple: make sure my children don't become future criminals, gangsta rappers, dog-fighters, teenage mothers, or welfare recipients. Our hands are full; let's leave the policy making and big picture idea-shaping to someone else.
But more strikingly, I fear that black women are still viewed as breeders not nurturing mothers, women who "end up" mothers and not those who choose and embrace the path of motherhood. Hey, we're too busy rolling our necks, cussin' or smacking up our kids to take part in esoteric conversations about enacting meaningful legislation that supports mothers.
The last bit of blame falls on us. We have to speak up. We too want the best for our children, better maternity leave options, and flex-time schedules that aren't career killers. The truth is, we are intentional parents with supportive husbands and our relationships are not just baby mama drama. We can learn a little sumthin' from our Caucasian sisters here--if they have an issue they will create a community, live or online, in a minute. They will speak up, they will march, or start a foundation, but they will be heard. We can start by viewing our voice as important and demanding to be heard. We can start by rallying together. The world is officially on notice. (source)