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Illustration for article titled On Black Mamas

Happy Mother's Day! I thought I'd share some of my favorite odes to black motherhood today. In no particular order:

A Black Mom is Revolutionary

Tami Winfrey Harris knocked it out of the park with this article:

...but it is impossible for Michelle Obama to occupy the same space in this discussion as her forebears. She is a black woman. While white women have historically been thought, by default, to be possessed of ideal femininity, (sexistly) defined as demure, sacrificing, quietly strong, beautiful and maternal. Black women have not. The picture of black woman as Sapphire; welfare queen; baby mama; ball-buster; unmarriageable harpy who is too black, too fat and too nappy can be seen lurking behind much of the right's–and some of the left's–criticism of Michelle Obama.


To see a black woman be recognized in the public sphere as intelligent, driven, and a good wife and mother is an unfortunately uncommon occurrence, and I am here for Mrs. Obama as "Mom-in-Chief".

2Pac's "Dear Mama"

I think what I love about this song is that it paints a picture of imperfect motherhood that's still loved and valued. Screw respectability politics; Pac unashamedly declares his love for his single, drug-using mother on welfare.


Ain't I a Mommy?

Deesha Philyaw wrote an interesting piece about the advent of "mommy memoirs" and the centering of white women's experiences. The title obviously plays off Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?", and Philyaw acknowledges the historical context that keeps Black women (and other WOC, and poor women) out of the conversation about "having it all":

So if black women haven't beaten down publishers' doors with manuscripts about mothering or about pulling second shifts, it's probably because this is what we've always done, without fanfare and without the luxury of "what about the children?" pearl-clutching. Perhaps because many of us are only a generation or two removed from poverty, we can't in good conscience write unconcerned screeds that ignore the hard realities for poor women and children. Maybe we look at our girlfriends—working women who aren't mothers—and are reminded that it's not all about the mommies. Maybe we realize that mommy-centrism lets employers and policy-makers off the hook with regard to family-friendly workplace changes that would allow mothers and fathers to work more flexible hours without sacrificing their careers in the process.


So today I raise my fist and tip my fro to all of the mamas, aunties, grandmas, godmamas, stepmamas, teachers, and friends who have ever loved a black child. You are appreciated.

Image via Getty

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