Yes, my skin is a little darker than yours. Yes, my hair is a little coarser than yours. Yes, my nostrils are a little bigger than yours. Yes, my elbow and knees get a little ashier than yours. Regardless of these very obvious facts, I too am a mother and want the same exact things for my children you want for yours: success, acceptance, prosperity, happiness, and all of the joy their little heart’s desire.
Black mothers are different than other mothers in America as a result of our history, culture, ethnicity, and social issues [remember that whole slavery thing that happened], but please stop stereotyping us and molding us into this category of illegitimacy, unfulfillment, and lacking the capability of raising children who will contribute to the future of our society one day. I love to bake, I like to go see a good movie, I exercise, I go sight-seeing, I love to travel, and most-importantly, I love and admire my children. Although we are different, we are the same in many ways, so I would prefer we all respect our differences, rather than encourage misconceptions and misunderstandings about back mothers.
I am not going to deny the fact that an alarmingly high number of black mothers are unwed and single in America, but degrading and dehumanizing the single, black mother is not going to change the life and experience of a black child.
“Not all black mothers are single because of poverty and incarceration rates, but many single black mothers live that way BY CHOICE.”
Yes, there are also black mothers who do not implement the best practices of motherhood, married or unmarried, but this can be applied to mothers of all races, not just black mothers. And never mind the fact that an unarmed black teenager was shot dead who was actually raised by two very involved black parents. Regardless of what the statistics and critics might say, not all black mothers outside of Mrs. Obama are bad at raising their children. The structure of family and marriage in general is changing as I write this, so,
“Why are successful black mothers and black families being seen as incapable, rare or uncommon?”
I will be perfectly honest with you. I sometimes feel pressured to prove to others that I do not fit into that category. When I’m having conversations with my mommy friends, I often feel like I have to include the fact that I have a husband and a college degree just so they do not look at me differently. But you know what? I am exhausted and tired of trying to “prove myself.” My husband was working late recently, so I took Mr. President #1 and Mr. President #2 to dinner alone because I had not cooked that day and we had no more leftovers. As I was driving to the restaurant, I realized I had left my wedding ring at home, and just as I started to turn around to go home to grab it, I decided not to succumb to the pressures of “proving myself” once again, and I kept right on going. I took the boys to more of a fancy restaurant since they were so well behaved that day, but something interesting happened, and it wasn’t their change in behavior. When we arrived at the restaurant, we waited patiently to be seated, even though I felt a little uncomfortable since quite a few heads had turned in our direction.
As we walked over to our table, I glanced at an older Caucasian woman who was staring at me with a look of disgust. The boys and I placed our orders, played a little, colored a little, and patiently waited for our food while minding our own business. The older Caucasian woman who seemed less than thrilled with me that evening was getting ready to leave the restaurant, and she made a point of walking directly by my table just to make sure I saw the disapproving look on her face. Because I had forgotten my wedding ring, I am sure she thought I was a single black mother [and her head was probably filled with notions of that outdated narrative on black mothers in America], and I know she was thinking, “Why is she here?” This woman knew absolutely nothing about me, her perception of me was obviously wrong, and if she really wanted to know why I was dining at that restaurant, she could have asked me and the answer would have been: “I am dining here with my children because I CAN AFFORD IT.”
I recently wrote a piece about how I am raising two black boys in America, which ultimately speaks to the fact that our burdens and efforts as black mothers in America are all the more strenuous than our counterparts simply because of the color of our skin. Yes, we all look different, but in this day and age, we absolutely should not be judged because of such. I know many of us want to deny this fact, but reality is what it is.
“We have our work cut out for us, so here is a refresher for you: Many of my mommy and daddy friends are teaching their children to be kind to others, say please and thank you, eat their vegetables, and be respectful, but I am not only teaching my children these necessary principles, I am literally teaching them how to stay alive.”
I am teaching my sons to be extremely careful of what they say; to be extremely cautious of the words that come out of their mouths, especially with the authority. I am teaching Mr. President #1 to be cognizant of the clothes he wears so he will not be perceived as a criminal when he is simply walking down the street or walking home from school. I am teaching my sons to be more tolerant than their peers, and to be aware of their surroundings at all times. When I send Mr. President #1 off to school, I remind him of these things, and to be aware of every move he makes. Can you imagine how tiresome this must be for such a small child? Kindergarten is enough to worry about, but for Mr. President #1, it does not end there, and I am sharing this because it just is not fair.
Now please do not be confused by this statement — I am not playing the victim here; I am simply bringing a discussion to the surface because many of us are living and dealing with this on a daily basis. We are relentlessly scrutinized, criticized, and looked down upon by others who do not take the time to respect our differences.
I am obviously a mother, and as a black mother, we all have unique circumstances. Some of us are married and some of us aren’t, but contrary to the outdated narrative, what we do want is the best for our children, and what we do not want is for our children to think there is something wrong with the way they are raised because of outdated misinformation or misconceptions about black mothers in America. Black matriarchy has an upside; we know how to lead a family, run a household, and get the job done. We are often criticized out of spite, or because others cannot do our jobs as well as we can, so although we are flattered, it is time to change this outdated narrative of the black mother in America. Let us respect the differences of one another, and accept the fact that although we are different, we are all mothers who love our children.
About The Author
Jasmine M. Musgrave, the Author of the No, It’s Not Brain Surgery. No, It’s Not Brain Surgery is a Motherhood blog. Jasmine is a wife and mother of two. She is a Researcher and Writer at TSymmetry, Inc. and Senior Communications Associate and Website Administrator at Easter Seals Serving DC | MD | VA. Jasmine currently holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature, as well as a degree and certification in French Language from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, and a Childhood Development Associate (CDA) in Early Childhood Education. She is married to her wonderful husband, and is a proud mother of two wonderful little boys, Mr. President #1 (6) and Mr. President #2 (2). Jasmine loves spending time with her family, playing the piano, doing arts and crafts, and volunteering as a vocalist in the music ministry at her local church.
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