A chat with Black Moms Connection founder Tanya Hayles

IMG_1462 (1)
Tanya Hayles, Founder, Black Moms Connection

When the boy child was 5 years old, he called me ‘Blackie’ and proudly told me that his friend from school told him that ‘Blackie’ was another word for Black people.  To say I was shocked, upset, angry was an understatement.

That moment, that time the boy child called my a racial slur, was my awakening.   Aside from the racial slur, this was the period when the boy child decided he didn’t want to be black, that he wanted blond straight hair. It was the time he would cry anytime I came near his head with a comb.  It was also the summer I had to explain to a crying six year old that no, he couldn’t have the toy gun that someone had bought him for his birthday, because a little boy named Tamir Rice had just been killed, playing with a toy gun in a park.  And, it was the summer that I was kicked out of a mainstream moms group because I was looking for support and asked if any other Black moms wanted to connect. Despite all this…it was the summer I found my village…Black Moms Connection.

In the season 2 finale of the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast, I chat with the founder of the Black Moms Connection group, Tanya Hayles about all things Black Motherhood….and Black Panther…just because.

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

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

Libsyn: http://wokemommy.libsyn.com

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/wokem

 

The Traumatic Three’s, Elsa and the Black Village gone wrong

14232387_181731728902909_1260190754392695826_n

Having a three year old sucks.  Anyone who tells you differently is either delusional or on a strong dose of Vicodin or likely both….because they have a three year old, or as that age is now commonly known- a ‘threenager.’

On episode three of the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast, I am talking to three fellow moms, Rahema, Felicia owner of  @Justuseventstoronto and Trish- creator of the @ConfessionsofaHuslingMama blog on Instagram.   We are unpacking the traumatic three’s and what it’s like parenting a threenager with the added layer of blackness.

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

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

 

Searching for my own Wakanda

Killmonger-WKabi-and-TChalla-Black-PantherThe Black Panther movie was epic!  It was magnificent and just completely and utterly excellent.  But, it also left me thinking about the complicated connection that all of us of African ancestry, living in the diaspora, have to the land from which our ancestors were taken.  My own family tree is a network of blank spots and unanswered questions. Simply, because we don’t know the answer to the question of who our people were. Our history of quite literally stolen from us.

My sister though, has spent over 10 years trying to piece together the pieces of our family history and on the latest episode of the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast, I talk to her about her journey, reveal her DNA test results and chat about a family ancestor that could be the key to our African roots.

//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/6279379/height/90/theme/custom/autoplay/no/autonext/no/thumbnail/yes/preload/no/no_addthis/no/direction/backward/render-playlist/no/custom-color/87A93A/“>Listen to the Podcast

 

Woke Mommy Chatter1400

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

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

 

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.

 

On Homeschooling…

The face of homeschooling is changing across North America as more and more black parents choose to educate their children in order to give them the best possible schooling possible.

On episode 5 of the Woke Mommy Chatter Podcast, I am talking to Eva Greene Wilson author of  the blog  socamom.com and Yolanda Newton, Director of EducationRevolt.org.

We talk about the reasons why homeschooling works for their family, why black families in particular can benefit from homeschooling and what some of the limitations of the public education system are.

Last week, I wrote my own  piece for Today’s Parent magazine on how and why black parents to advocate for their children in order to help them succeed.  We’ve had great teachers so far and the education system seems to be working for my kids, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about homeschooling, especially after talking to these amazing homeschooling mothers.

im-not-a-pushy-helicopter-mom-1280x960-1-1024x576

Listen to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast….Episode 5 – The one where we talk about homeschooling.

Subscribe to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast anywhere you get your podcasts to get automatic downloads of new episodes every Tuesday.

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

 

There’s more…..Want to know more about Charter Schools?  Listen to 

Getting real….talking black lives, Trump and parenting

As an outsider looking into to the mess that is the United States, more often than not I am left speechless.  Beyond that though, as a mother, as someone with family in the US, there is a deep sense of solidarity with black folk and the struggles that they face, because although to a lesser extent, these are the same struggles of black people in nearly all western countries.

Whether it is a President whose disdain for black people and black lives is evident in his daily comments, attitudes, policies, silences, or the Flint water crisis, or the consistent use of deadly force against black men, women and children by police, or the crisis in inner city schools, or the fact that this lists could go on and one, the fact remains that despite the multitude of black millionaires gracing our screen daily, black people in America are not living a life based on equality.

As a mother, I can’t imagine the stress that all of this places on your existence and that of your children.

Black bodies are continually exploited in America, even by those who claim to do good.  In episode 4 of the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast, the Clinton Foundation is referenced as trying to steal breast milk from black women.  This sounds like a conspiracy theory right…but it’s not, there is truth here.   With breast feeding rates already very low in the black community, the Clinton Foundation’s apparent misguided approach to increasing rates was to encourage black women to sell their breast milk. It makes no sense. Based on the fact that:

  1. black women are having a hard time breast feeding already
  2. there’s already a history of exploitation and forced wet nursing in the African American community
  3. who has the money to buy breast milk anyway, likely not the black women who aren’t breast feeding, more than likely white women.  So what is really going on here?

I think I’ve said a couple of times. Anyone with an interest in African American history, contemporary history…read the book Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington.

It details the medical experimentation that has taken place on black bodies throughout American history- right up until present day, nearly always without consent. If you read anything in the next few months. Read this.

515wvjIjCvL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_

In this episode of the Woke Mommy Chatter Podcast, we get real and talk Black Lives Matter, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin.  We talk about what it’s like to tell your child they will not be allowed to walk to the store alone and how you protect your kids, and your mental health in a world where you are under siege.

Listen to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast….Episode 4 – The one where we get real, talking Trump, black lives and parenting.  

Subscribe to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast anywhere you get your podcasts to get automatic downloads of new episodes every Tuesday.

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

 

NEW PODCAST- The one where we talk about chocolate milk….

  • Wet nurseOn episode 3 of the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast we are talking breastfeeding and exploring some of the reasons why black women aren’t breastfeeding at the same rate as women of other races.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 79 percent of all newborn infants in the US started out breastfeeding in 2011. Only 58.9 percent of Black women initiate breastfeeding, while 75.2 percent of white women and 80 percent of Latina women initiate breastfeeding.

What’s stopping black women from breastfeeding is something that many organizations are trying to figure out and on this episode of Woke Mommy Chatter, I talk to two fellow black mom bloggers who are advocates of ‘chocolate’ breastfeeding.

Hadassah is a mom living in Atlanta, originally from Haiti and creator of the Brown Mom Rising, Inspiring and motivating moms of color   and Afrykyan Moon owner of the Chocolate Milk Gear   store and Infinite Possibilities of a black woman blog.

We talk about the history of wet nursing and the real stigma that comes with black women using their breasts to feed babies that originated in slavery.  ‘That  “slavery sh*t” as one woman referred to it, in the linked article above.

We also talk about the origins of formula and our own stories from the trenches of breastfeeding.

Listen to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast….Episode 3- The one where we talk about chocolate milk. 

Subscribe to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast anywhere you get your podcasts to get automatic downloads of new episodes every Tuesday.

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

 

Woke Mommy Chatter- The Podcast: Episode 2

The one where we talk about interracial dating and identity.

Don’t forget to subscribe and download the latest episode of the Woke Mommy Chatter Podcast. This week I continue my conversation with fellow Woke Moms Rochelle and Carla. We talk mixed race kids and identity, perception and micro-aggressions. Be sure to tune in, like and share.

You can subscribe from apple podcast using the link below or download anywhere yu you get your podcast.

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/woke-mommy-chatter-the-podcast/id1293971353?mt=2

The Opioid crisis is just another double standard

There’s an Opioid crisis across North America. There’s also a severe double standard in response to that crisis. It’s like a sick joke. The double standard is so palpable.

For months now outlets across Canada and the United States have been printing articles, doing tv and radio interviews and generally making efforts to humanize and discuss the Opioid crisis. I’ll admit that I’m having a bit of trouble trying to conjure up my usual sympathy. Part of me is grateful that we’ve come far enough as a society to be compassionate when dealing with addicts, but the other part of me, the Woke, part cannot get over the incredible double standard at play here.

For decades, black people have been incarcerated for drug related offences for at rates so high in the US that it has destroyed entire communities and raised alarm bells internationally as a human rights issue. (And let’s not even mention how the drugs got into the communities in the first place). Canada is no different, there are black children in Canada sitting in youth detention centres for possession of marijuana, which white kids purchase at store fronts in downtown Toronto.

And now without irony, the New York Daily news has posted an article titled ‘How Rikers Island, Justice System killed a young Opioid addict’, accompanied with a picture of an innocent looking young man a baby. Yes, it’s a sad story…but does no one see the irony here? How can they publish this with a straight face when there are ENTIRE communities of black men, and women sitting in prison for crimes exactly like what is being discussed in the article?

In the 80s and 90s, when it was a crack epidemic, the kids were known as crack babies, they were taken away from their parents, there was story after story about these babies born addicted to drugs me how it affects their behaviour. The problems we as a society would have on our hands in the future. Black addicts were fiends (which literally means a devil). Grandparents were raising kids and given no support or acknowledgement- unlike the article I saw a few days ago about white grandparents, praising them for being heroes of the epidemic.

When it was black communities ravaged by drugs and not rural white communities, there was no discussion about safe injection sites as there is in Canada now. It’s unbelievable to me, they want to create safe spaces for junkies to be junkies simply because now that a drug crisis has hit white communities, there’s an emotional connection and realization that criminalization doesn’t work. It wasn’t as if there weren’t black people with great jobs falling pray to drugs before either, like the story I read about a former lawyer who died in a New York alley recently from an overdose.

The undercurrent in all these stories is that these are VALUABLE lives being wasted and as such, understanding must be had, because this could be our kids, our sisters or brothers. But that was always the case. The only difference was colour.

This is also the reason that my kids will never have the opportunity to ‘experiment’ with drugs and why ill have to explain to them on Friday and Saturdays when they are in high school that it’s unlikely they’ll be going to those parties and hang outs, because for them consequences of using drugs- even just dabbling are very different. For them, there will be no understanding, no second chances no sympathy and no articles written about how the system has wronged them.

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/rikers-island-justice-system-killed-young-opioid-addict-article-1.3579406