Black Motherhood: Living with your heart outside your chest.
Black Motherhood? I sat with this concept and wondered what it meant in 2017 when a friend of mine approached me about her maternity shoot. I thought what does it mean to bring a child into the world as a Black women in 2017....
"The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman."
- Malcolm X
As a Black women who has not birthed babies into the world I can't imagine the great joy, the great responsibility and ultimately worry being a giver of life comes with. I try to imagine how nuanced the responsibility of loving deeply, protecting deeply yet granting your child freedom to a childhood must feel. What does it mean to personally navigate misogynoir while raising a child with a healthy mind, body and soul. As a Black women I must confess the act of staying healthy holistically is a lot of work.
I think about the Black mothers of television, what did motherhood seem to mean to us when we were simply imagining it? How many of us wanted to be like Aunt Viv or Clair Huxtable?
Clair Hanks Huxtable: When do you feel this pressure?
Theodore 'Theo' Huxtable: Every now and then.
Clair Hanks Huxtable: This is not about pressure. Vanessa got drunk because she and her friends were bored, although they had television, VCR, video cassettes, audio cassettes, books...
Dr. Heathcliff 'Cliff' Huxtable: And each other.
Clair Hanks Huxtable: Thank you.
Dr. Heathcliff 'Cliff' Huxtable: That they call on the phone every five minutes when they're away, yet somehow they were bored together.
Clair Hanks Huxtable: So you see, Vanessa wasn't feeling any pressure from us. The only pressure she felt was from the people she was with.
Theodore 'Theo' Huxtable: Because of what you two have accomplished, the world expects a lot more from us than from other kids.
Dr. Heathcliff 'Cliff' Huxtable: And that's our fault?
Theodore 'Theo' Huxtable: Think about it, you're a doctor, Mom's a lawyer, that's a lot of pressure.
Clair Hanks Huxtable: Theo, we never said become a doctor, become a lawyer, we say go to school, we say study, we say become something.
Vanessa Huxtable: [takes the shot glass up to her mouth, scrunches up her face, and drinks. she expects to taste bourbon, but... ]
[as her face relaxes]
Vanessa Huxtable: this is tea...
Rudy Huxtable, Clair Hanks Huxtable, Dr. Heathcliff 'Cliff' Huxtable: Gotcha!
What happens when we are sitting with the reality of what it means to be Samaria Rice the mother of young Tamir Rice taken from us too soon? What does this harsh reality look like? How do we prepare for this? How does a Black Mother prepare her self and child for an on average mediocre health care system, educational institution and justice system
My friend in this image has recently given birth to a beautiful baby boy. He is healthy and quit honestly a blessing to those of us allowed to love and guide him. I asked his mother what did motherhood feel like, she said "Like living with your heart outside your chest".
I usually write to offer tips of how we could be the best version of ourself. I often want to offer tiny nuggets of information that will encourage us to love our self and each other a little more intentionally and with purpose. When I first sat to write this blog entry my thought was "I am not a mother, what can I possibly say about Black motherhood?"...
Dear beloved reader, this is what I want to offer you:
This is a call to action. A call to love deeper, to be present for Black Mothers. To witness their greatness and offer support. Offer your time, your ears, your affirmation, your hope. Hold your self accountable to the Black Mothers in your own life. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a village of people to support the often primary care givers mental, emotional and holistic health. Yes, I am saying you have a responsibility to the mothers of our community. Yes, I am saying show up. When that child needs someone to have a difficult conversation with, be there. When mommy needs a moment to vent or be reminded that she is a great mother, be there. We can be better, we need to be better.
“love. she liberated me to life, she continued to do that. and when she was in her final sickness i went out to san francisco and the doctor said she had 3 weeks to live, i asked her "would you come to north carolina?" she said yes. she had emphysema and lung cancer, i brought her to my home. she lived for a year and a half ..and when she was finally in extraneous she was on oxygen and fighting cancer for her life and i remembered her liberating me, and i said i hoped i would be able to liberate her, she deserved that from me. she deserved a great daughter and she got one. so in her last days, i said "i understand some people need permission to go… as i understand it you may have done what god put you here to do. you were a great worker, you must've been a great lover cause a lot of men and if I'm not wrong maybe a couple of woman risked their lives to love you. you were a piss poor mother of small children but a you were great mother of young adults, and if you need permission to go, i liberate you". and i went back to my house, and something said go back- i was in my pajamas, i jumped in my car and ran and the nurse said "she just gone". you see love liberates. it doesn't bind, love says i love you. i love you if you're in china, i love you if you're across town, i love you if you're in harlem, i love you. i would like to be near you, i would like to have your arms around me i would like to have your voice in my ear but thats not possible now, i love you so go. love liberates it doesn't hold. thats ego. love liberates.” ― Maya Angelou
When you share space with a Black women who has courageously chosen the journey of motherhood, dear beloved reader I encourage you to love her deeply, courageously, freely.