Why Black Motherhood Is Radical By Default

Last Wednesday at the Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn I sat with 30 or 40 women and one man and discussed black motherhood. We talked openly about dating and relationships, generational parenting habits, how emotional wellness is a new frontier for black families and the perpetual idea that motherhood is a solitary act. We heard stories from women who where willing to share. There were four doulas in the audience and an assisting midwife. There was a medical student who came with a healthcare activist. There were immigrants and expecting mothers and 80-year old godmothers. Ancestral spirits were present.


After the two-hour conversation session we found the emerging theme to be that aspiring to thrive as a black mother - was radical by default. Nothing about black motherhood is represented in mainstream society. Following the current without asking questions or making demands would mean the sure demise of our children’s potential. Parents of all hues have to be diligent - but mothers of black children have an especially daunting outlook.

Recently, there has been a new narrative around Black mothers and childbirth and as I asked the room to talk about their fears and thoughts around the idea that Black women are incapable of surviving childbirth a wave of hands went up. The doulas in the room were especially persistent that having an advocate in the room with you - whether its for doctor’s appointments or during birth - is a game-changer for Black women. The medical school student (who is an aspiring Ob-Gyn) said that the racial disparities in healthcare are undeniable and the industry has finally reached a point where immediate change has to start happening now.

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Aside from defining “radical black motherhood”, the takeaway from our discussion was that we need to have more. We need to facilitate a way for mothers to support each other and organize around all the resources that sometimes feel hidden from our view. I mentioned to the crowd that moving to New York as a California implant meant that I absolutely had to create my own community. I had to ask for people’s emails and phone numbers and chat up women I overheard have children around my son’s age. I had to start group chats with moms in my son’s class. I could not have done it without the connections I’ve made. The goal with this event was to start a conversation between mothers in the community and remind them that we’re all here for each other - even if we haven’t figured out how to reach out yet.

After the discussion closed and I got to speak with some of the women individually the message was clear -do this more often. So, there will be more to come soon. Stay tuned!

Big thanks to the Weeksville Heritage Center for allowing us to use their space and supporting the promotion of this event. And a warm hug of appreciation to Regeneracion who graciously provided childcare to the mothers in attendance.