The One Where We Talk About Black Love

Woke Mommy Chatter – The Podcast is back with 8 new episodes.  We are kicking off season 2 with an episode on Black Love.  I chat with Destinii and Brandon from the @BlaqLoveSoul Instagram blog about the beauty of Black love, some of the challenges and their own love story.

Brandon and Destinii
Brandon and Destinii, creators of the @BlaqLoveSoul Instagram blog.

Black love truly is beautiful, in some ways it is revolutionary.  It is defiance in the face of injustice and racism.   Black love is perseverance, in a society that has attempted for years to undermine black relationships, to strip black people of their ability to love each other, to uphold each other and to bond with each other.

Black love is comfort, home, it a sense of security and peace in knowing that you are enveloped in an embrace of those who share common experiences, who understand the struggle, who strive to achieve despite all odds.

Black love stands strong in the face of societal pressure from billboards, and commercials and marketing campaigns and television shows and memes, and Instagram posts that seek to perpetuate the myth that black love is dying. That it no longer exists, that its blackness is toxic.

Black love is community, it is protests, it is standing hand in hand, and it is support for each other, supporting neighbours, supporting family.  It is hope in the future. It is uplifting.

Black love is resistance, it is a fist in the air, it is the power of convictions, it is striving towards change, it is people who dedicate themselves to their community, it is unapologetic in its blackness.

Black love is pride.

Black love is hurt and pain.  It is complicated.  It is the grief of communities destroyed by lack of opportunities and injustice of biased societal structures that uphold white supremacy.  It is fear for black children, for our partners, for ourselves.

Black love is migration, it is building a future away from those you love, communities you love, in the hopes that the generations after will do better.  It is sacrifice. It is courage

Black love is beautiful.  It is Sunday afternoon hair days, and cook-outs and worship.  Is carnival and bacchanals and dance hall.   It is celebration.

Black love is empowering.  It is community. It is about thriving against all odds.  It is about defying the oppressor.   Black love will always be political.  Black love will always be divisive, black love will always exist.

Black love is everything.

Listen to the Black Love episode of the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast.

Woke Mommy Chatter1400

Subscribe to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast anywhere you get your podcasts.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/po…/wokemommychatter/id1293971353

 

Where’s the #metoo movement for racism?

I find it so interesting that the whole world has essentially jumped on the #metoo moment.  People who once scoffed at the idea of feminism, or referred to it as the ‘f-word’ are using the language.  High profile men are being outed as misogynistic, predatory or flat out rapist. They are resigning, being fired, forced to confront their misogyny and sexism.

Don’t get me wrong….this is great. Yeah for women.  Although that sentence really should read, ‘Yeah for White women.’   It’s ironic really that a movement started by a Black woman has been co-opted and now all but excludes the voices of Black women.

We know Black women experience the brunt of sexual violence and harassment.  It starts younger for us.  It’s also embedded in our cultures and community.   I grew up in a Black neighborhood and could barely walk two steps as a pre-teen and then a teen without being harassed, called ‘shorty’, ‘lil’ sis, cars slowing, asking if I wanted a ride, or creeping along beside me, young men, much older than me, hanging out the windows asking for my number. GettyImages_872386850 Black women know harassment.  But we also know racism and for many of us…myself included, when a conversation arises about sexual harassment and anti-Black racism.  It’s racism that wins out.  My identity as a woman is second to my identity as a Black women. I am Black first.

I don’t feel dis-empowered, disenfranchised or attacked for being a woman….I feel all of those things for being Black.

So where is the #metoo movement for racism?  This week, I had two separate Black friends on the phone with me, crying over the overt racism, and subtle miroagressions that they’ve been dealing with at work.  Both wanted validation that they weren’t imagining things, that what they were experiencing was in fact problematic and unfair behavior. One quit her job, preferring to be unemployed and save her sanity, than suffer the stress, exhaustion and fragile mental health that comes for Black people working in a White world (ever wonder why black people cling to religion so hard? It’s how we keep our sanity).

My other friend, seemed shell-shocked and in a complete state of disbelief that her hard work, her good ideas, her experience, could be discounted over a small mistake (the same mistake another colleague made).  She was consumed with confusion over the fact that her high profile file could be taken away from her, for something so small and given to someone with no experience.  Someone who had also made the same mistakes and more… For this friend, her belief in her equality and the idea that the people she worked with respected and valued her as a colleague and didn’t see her colour was so strong, that it was shocking to her to be faced with the stark reality that as the only Black women in the entire company, she simply had to ALWAYS be three times better. She was not allowed to make mistakes…ever…and the white mediocrity around her, would always be rewarded, always made allowances for, always supported…above her.

We need a #metoo movement for racism.  It’s glaring that people are so able to listen to the stories of women and believe them without question, but throw in a story about race in there and everyone has excuses.  It becomes the ‘race-card’, you have a ‘chip on your shoulder.

The same people who support #metoo, start to say things like, “my husband is Black, or my daughters best friend is Black, or they say that their Black kids are bi-racial, or they don’t see colour, everyone is the same.”  They say all of this…anything… so as not to to confront the fact that despite their perceived close proximity to Blackness, they can in fact still be racist. They can still participate in all the things that stress Black people, that require us to have our #metoo reckoning.

https://www.vox.com/identities/2018/1/11/16875028/me-too-racism-reckoning

On Postpartum depression and Brooke Shields

Part of the reason I started my blog was to peel back the layers on what motherhood in the west looks like- which in the mainstream…is lily white. It’s part of the problem I have with shows like Parenthood or the Canadian mom show Workin’ Moms.  But even though I know this, sometimes I’m still genuinely shocked to see that my motherhood is barely ever reflected in mainstream media. Can I just say…black women are awesome mothers too, we struggle, we love our kids just as much, we do all the same crap every other mom does, we face the same issues…including…post depression,  which brings me to Brooke Shields’ Netflix documentary When The Bough Breaks. I stumbled across this during my Netflix binge over the holidays.  You know- during the cold snap when we literally couldn’t leave the house for fear of our eyelids freezing shut in seconds.  So we stayed indoors and I binged on Netflix.  It was glorious.  In that self indulgent haze, I stumbled across Brooke Shields’ postpartum documentary.   All I can say is she needs to seriously expand her view of motherhood.

If you just watch the first 40 minutes of this documentary, you would assume two things:

  1. only white women are mothers and
  2. only white women struggle with motherhood.

It took a full 40 minutes, in a documentary where the first thing they said is that postpartum depression sees no racial or class boundaries, before I saw a face that wasn’t white.  And that first face was in fact nearly white, a fair skinned woman of south Asian descent, the black face and her story appeared at minute 52.

It really distracted from the documentary which actually has a very compelling story, that needs to be told.  Shield’s is right about the fact that we need to talk more openly about postpartum depression. We need to get rid of the shame and stigma that’s associated with it.  The fact is, birthing a baby is traumatic.  The best thing my family physician ever said to me was acknowledging this fact.  She told me my body had just undergone ‘major trauma and would need at least two years the heal,’  and that’s just physically.  Often we are so focused on the physical, we forget to take care of our emotional self.

One of the things I learned watching this doc., is that postpartum can actually last YEARS after giving birth. One of the women had a seven-year old son and was still in therapy.  This makes so much sense to me.  I get it.

While I didn’t have postpartum depression, I definitely had the baby blues.  When the Captureboy child was born, I was so excited, there was this instant wave of love that was there well before he was even delivered, but when I got him home that first week, I was convinced he hated me. Every time he nursed in the first month or so, I would stare down at him, slightly freaked out by his intense glare.  I was convinced, he was giving me evil looks (which sounds completely irrational and it was – but it’s the truth).  I also had post traumatic stress with him. For quite a while after the delivery, I’d go into these slightly catatonic states where I’d get flash backs remembering the trauma of his birth.    And it wasn’t even a particularly horrible birth, it was just nothing like I could have imagined and more painful that I could have imagined, because apparently epidurals don’t work on me.

With the little madam, I was a much more confident mom, but I had complications from the delivery that required a home nurse to come in once a week for like 4 months, I had the boy child, I had a busy job leading up to the birth- so I really felt so disconnected from her when she was born.  I went through the motions, but she was a little stranger to me.  I felt like I  had to get to know her.  Today, as I watched her spend a good 10 minutes trying to literally climb into the fridge, yes climb INTO the fridge to get the butter to spread on her bread, because she was mad at me and didn’t want to talk to me. I marveled at the fact that I ever thought I’d have to get to know this determined, funny, exuberant little human.   Her heart beats in tune with mine.  But with hormones ranging, down in the weeds, you don’t see that.

My point here is that as mothers, we all have the same struggles, black women have an added layer of struggle that can complicate and feed into every aspect of our family lives, but at the core, our stories are similar and ensuring our voices are heard…not an hour into a documentary, but right from the beginning is essential.
Representation matters, not just for children of colour, but for their parentes too, particularly for mothers….black mothers, who need to shed the stigma of survival, and strength and toughness in order to face our own truth. Hearing someone else share thiers is the first step.

 

Why Santa is ruining my Christmas

The boy child is 7 years old now. We’ve always enabled the belief in Santa and the magic of Christmas. But this year is different. The boy child wobbled. He wasn’t sure about Santa. He had questions. But they weren’t straightforward black and white questions like, is Santa real? He was too scared to ask that, I could tell. Instead he’d say things like, ‘I don’t believe in magic, just Santa.’ Then he’d wait for my reaction. Then he’d move on to, ‘elves aren’t real right?How does Santa get all the toys?’ Faces with my wide eyed little boy’s wavering belief in a Christmas- I panicked and did what my mother never would have done. I lied. I reinforced the charade. I made up stories about busy elves and Santa watching us and reindeer. And he believed me. Every word.

It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just Santa. But now there are these bloody elves on the shelves…Both kids are convinced that our elf at home is fake, because it NEVER moves- as in mommy can’t be bothered. The boy child is even asking for a real elf from Santa this year.

It’s sweet really that he believes so whole heartedly. He even wrote a letter to Santa asking for a house for his Auntie. Because you know…big city real-estate and all that.

School is the biggest perpetrator of this Santa BS though. There elf moves daily and writes notes to the kids. And letters come home listing al the toys each child would like for Christmas. So even though we didn’t visit Santa at the mall this year, I still have no excuse. I must partake in the Santa scheme. In fact I’ll admit to downloading an app that will ‘call’ Santa when your kids are naughty.

Through all this though, I’ve decided that if the boy child still believes next year when he’s 8, we will be breaking the ‘there is no- Santa news to him’. 8 years is a good run to believe in Santa I think. Right? And I want some credit for trudging through the snow searching for sold out toys.

Next year, I think we are going to trade in Christmas for Kwanzaa.

The one where we talk about Princess Truly…because representation matters

I don’t know any black parent who doesn’t struggle to find books with characters that their child can relate to.  So that’s why when I came across the book I am Truly.  I snapped it up. I picked it purely on instinct. I looked at the cover and saw a little black girl and thought, that looks like my girl…I am getting this book. It was that basic.  Never could I have imagined that the words on the inside would be just as striking, just as powerful, just as inspiring as the picture on the front cover.

I am Truly, ‘truly’ is one of my favorite books.   I actually enjoy reading it…(I am not trying to skip pages on this one).

Truly

So that’s why I was so excited to speak to the author of the Princess Truly series, Kelly Greenawalt on this episode of the Woke Mommy Chatter Podcast.

We talk about how the book came to be, why she wrote it, how kids react when she reads it to them in school and we touch on her busy life as a mom of six children.

In the Episode 8 of the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast, Kelly and I will continue our conversation and talk Transracial adoption.

Visit Kelly’s website to find out how you can order your Princess Truly book and you can also follow her Facebook page.  You can also check out Amariah’s website and see more f her beautiful illustrations.

 

Listen now and Subscribe to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast anywhere you get your podcasts.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/po…/wokemommychatter/id1293971353

 

NO- I will never just ‘move on’ from Slavery.

Who the hell does David Cameron think he is? If I hear one more person say that black people should move on from slavery I’m going to loose my mind.

Would he dare say to a Jewish audience that they should get over the holocaust? Which occurred for a shorter period of time than slavery?

Black people were enslaved for centuries. And it wasn’t just a loss of liberty, we lost our languages, our culture, our religions, our traditions, our connection to family, our very sense of identity. All of these things were stripped from us and it’s these connections that new immigrants to the west are able to maintain, that allows them to thrive. That allows them to join forces with people like Cameron in saying, we made it- move on from Slavery.

The transatlantic slave trade took place over 300 years. 300 years. I’ll repeat 300 years. In the Caribbean countries like Jamaica and Barbados only got their independence from the UK in 1962 and 1966 respectively.

The Civil Rights Movement in the states took place in the 60s. In the Caribbean colonialism is entrenched in every aspect of life, in every system TO THIS DAY. In the UK, where I was born, they still refered to black babies as golliwogs until 25 years ago. (As an aside- A Golliwog is a black minstrel type doll- and you’ll never guess what I saw in the corner of my local ‘British shop’ in CaNADA a few years ago- u tim I asked them to remove it). And even though people like David Cameron would say there’s no proof, the UK is also the place where signs saying No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs hung. The proof is in the stories of people like my parents and many others. These things don’t exist in isolation. They are the product of a lifetime of colonialism and anti- black sentiment perpetuated from centuries of slavery.

We are living with the legacy of slavery and colonialism held up by the ancestors of people like Cameron. Today, Black children in the US, U.K. and Canada are being ripped from their homes, put in foster care or group homes or being made wards of the state and given to white families. THAT’s the legacy of slavery and colonialism. Black kids are struggling in schools, they are being suspended at higher rates, they are being over medicated and over diagnosed with ADHD and a host of other behavioural issues. THATs a legacy of slavery and colonialism. Black kids today are being locked up for minor infractions like marijhuana possession at the same time as white people build businesses and invest in marijuaa dispenseries. THAT is a legacy of slavery and colonialism.

Many people of all colours do not want to face or understand the history and sheer trauma that has been inflicted on black people across the world. This isn’t about victim hood- because black people have proven time and time again how resilient and strong we are. And that’s the problem. That resilience and the fact that some of us have ‘made it’ despite these insurmountable barriers allows people like Cameron to say ‘get over slavery.’

I will never get over Slavery and I will make damn sure my children never forget it either. Do some bloody research and actually read the accounts of slaves, read the horror stories, not the American fairy tale we see in movies. Read the accounts and then come back and say get over it. That trauma is in our DNA. It’s not going anywhere.

Cameron would do better to shut his mouth and open his eyes to the Libyan Slave trade or should they just get over it too?

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/30/jamaica-should-move-on-from-painful-legacy-of-slavery-says-cameron?CMP=share_btn_fb

Holding the Line Against Hate

How do you talk to your kids about racial tension?

In an alternate universe down south in Charlottesville, Virginia, Bellamy Shoffner is writer and photographer struggling with the same issue.  She wanted to start a discourse on social justice issues issues facing many marginalized people and so she did what writers do, when they are impassioned.  She picked up the pen.  Bellamy started Hold The Line magazine (due to launch in December) to ‘support people of color and LGBTQ+ communities,  people defying gender norms, working to combat  mental health stigma, and the abhorrent d uprising of white supremacy.’

In Episode 6 of the Woke Mommy Chatter Podcast. I am talking to Bellamy about her magazine, advice on how to talk to your kids about racial tension, the power of words and why you should never touch a black child’s hair.

Listen now and Subscribe to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast anywhere you get your podcasts.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/po…/wokemommychatter/id1293971353

 

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