Demonizing Motherhood

attachment parenting, Social Justice, Women's Health

In the last few weeks/months we’ve seen a plethora of celebrity pregnancy announcements and pregnancy photo shoots. Women like Beyonce, Ciara, Blac Chyna, and Serena. All have been beautiful!!!! Yet I continue to find myself falling down the rabbit hole called “the comment section”. I can hear yall now…. “No…. don’t EVER read the comments!”. I already know this, but since I’ve done it, I may as well vent.

Never in my life have I seen so many folks hate on the miracle that is “giving life”. After noticing this in the comment sections, I began to see it in real life and realizing it applied even to my own life. Black people are quick to tell you not to have any more children no matter your circumstances, even villify you for having more than to, or go so far as to scare you away from the thought of child birth.

So here we are again, black folks policing one another for doing something as normal as being pregnant and giving birth.

Please explain to me, why are we like this?

I found myself guilty of hiding my pregnancy from those close to me and my community, at the risk of gossip and chatter. I didn’t announce that I was pregnant with Jojo until I literally had no choice. I was 30 weeks pregnant and back in my hometown where I knew someone would eventually see me. I tried to get pregnant and we planned this baby, yet I felt shame! We have programmed ourselves to be embarrassed about natural things.

If people like Ciara, Beyonce, Blac Chyna, and Serena are slandered at every turn for getting pregnant (all under various circumstances, not that it should matter anyway), what hope is there for average folks like us? Ciara was ripped to shreds by black men and women alike for her photo shoot with new husband and toddler, Beyonce accused of blasphemy and glorifying what pregnancy is/should be, Blac Chyna was called every name under the sun including a gold digging bitch, and Serena somehow hates herself and got pregnant out wedlock (all in the same sentence).

Someone explain to me why we hate ourselves so much, why do we hate the thought of our sisters bringing life into this world. Why is it so hard to believe that we might equate ourselves to goddesses for being able to sustain another life? We are doing things that are at the very root of who we are and what our bodies are made for and people hate us for it. It’s disgusting to say the very minimum. I can’t say that I’m very surprised either, I’ve expressed my disappointment in black men in previous post… They slander us at every turn and are silent when we need them. Yes, I still see you. Pretend revolutionaries, if you tear down your women… You are tearing down the base of your so-called revolution.

There is a literal criminalization of black mothers in the justice department, if something happens to our children we are directly at fault. Even if its at the hands of another, but God forbid we are pregnant and happy about it… we are heathens for that as well. Having immediate access to videos of our husbands, brothers, sisters, and children gunned down in the streets is a form of reproductive injustice. Black women are literally afraid to have children. Even with this reality, women are attempting to celebrate these moments and OTHER BLACK PEOPLE WANT TO RIP THIS MOMENT FROM THEM!

Stop it, stop contributing to the Jezebel, welfare queen, single mother rhetoric and start celebrating these women. Celebrate normal everyday women along with the celebrities. Stop judging women for doing things that are natural and normal. Don’t you dare comment on how many children a black woman has, don’t ask if they are done, don’t tell your horrific birth stories, don’t do any of it. We are already victims of sexism AND racism, don’t contribute to it. Misogynoir is real, and if you don’t know what it is, look it up.

It’s time to start celebrating our womanhood.

Empowerment: Playing Your Part

Social Justice

Empowering and Impacting the Black Community:
         During the release of Beyonce’s unapologetically black visual album Lemonade, I noticed a truly detrimental epidemic. An onslaught of black people who couldn’t give credit in places it was obviously due because they couldn’t get over the “But what have you done for us” complex. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not blinded my beyhive goggles, I’m very obviously a fan but Beyonce’ has made some community contributions she just hasn’t bragged about them. People are so used to every act of charity broadcasted across social media that if it hasn’t been posted on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter then it hasn’t happened. This is not the case, in reality you should be wary of those that do things and make a show of it. You should always question the motives of those people. I could attach a list of charities The Carters contribute to regularly, but you could also do the research. Research is something our generation has also turned a blind eye to. Why are you being subdued by the media into believing she is exploiting black people and feminism? Well for one she has contributed an entire essay to feminism, more specifically gender equality. Then she put together a world tour of only female artist (from production to musicians). But once she narrows her scope to black women and their struggles you have a hard time believing the hype? That’s fine; I digress because my point is… WHO ARE YOU TO ASK WHAT SOMEONE ELSE HAS CONTRIBUTED TO THE BLACK COMMUNITY? What have you yourself contributed? I’m sure you have openly contributed to its exploitation: reposting gorilla memes comparing him to dead black youth, sharing fight videos, endorsing these shows that make us look like animals, asking your local black business owners for discounts? So I ask again, what have you contributed that places you above the acts of others?
         Before you try to deflect by asking me what I have personally done, I’ll start with this message I’m sharing with you. By blogging I’m making you increasingly aware of the injustices you ignore, and more aware of your own problematic behavior. By no means am I perfect, but I am contributing nonetheless. I have also joined the Black Student Union at my current institution; we are making ourselves a larger presence in the community and actively going out to make a difference. As an intern I am seeking out students of color who have fallen through the cracks and catching them, as well as creating opportunities for them to further their education. So again what are you actively doing that places you above others and their contributions?
         There are so many ways that you can contribute to the empowerment of our community, so many organizations you can join, and so many ways you can utilize your personal talents. So lets talk about some of the things you can do, I’ll start small.
1. Social Media- Use your voice! It seems trivial but every time you repost an injustice or draw awareness to a cause you are opening a few more minds. Create an online presence!
2. Join some organizations- find an organization that has values similar to your own, or simply start your own organization. Anyway to get involved.
3. Attend black institutions such as black churches and black colleges.
4. Seek out leadership positions in the community. May it be at work, school, or even within the government. We need representation and adequate leadership everywhere. Be a hand up instead of watching other people pass you up.
5. Go out and vote, encourage other people to vote! Not just in the presidential election but start small and start local. Those are the people that truly affect you and the amount of power our president has.
6. Do community service, this includes neighborhood beautification! It’s not about getting out the hood anymore but making it better. Gentrification is a real thing; it’s also a result of letting our neighborhoods fall apart. So get out there in the community and do your part! Take care of our people; even if you believe you have nothing, you still have enough to give.
7. Educate yourself outside the classroom. Read books, newspapers, and scientific journals! Knowledge is everywhere and it’s harder for you to be taken advantage of when you have the power of knowledge. Stop taking in that trashy television show and all that gossip. What you put in will soon produce fruit.
8. Do business with black owned businesses and stop asking for discounts. While you’re at it stop doing business with people that don’t appreciate your business. If you’re being exploited for them to make a dollar, its safe to say you should keep your money. On that note if these people wont hire you and you are obviously qualified, start your own business. Create a legacy for your children.
9. Stop sending your children where they are not wanted, joining groups where they are the only black children, sending them to schools with no diversity. You think you are helping them but you are further aiding in their brainwashing and making them numb to oppression. I’m not saying send them to bad schools or to pull them out of schools. But as the child of a teacher I know that there are options, and lots of them.
10. Finally, stop bashing other black people for the way in which they choose to empower other black people. You have your method and they have theirs. It’s as simple as that. Your criticism is further separating us during a time when we need to demonstrate unity. Criticism is one thing and accountability is another.
This isn’t me trying to tell you how to live your lives, but holding you accountable. You know how to get involved now, so take part in the revolution. There will always be those who actively take part and those who stand on the sidelines and critique. Even if you just stand idly by you are benefitting from the acts of others.

Battle of the pants

attachment parenting

Day One of Toddler Home School:
         Toddler home schooling was something I planned to start on Monday but due to the busy week so far (home inspections and a ten hour work shift) I couldn’t commit until today. Let me just say that it has been truly horrible to say the least, well the start was anyway. I tried to get Micah up and dressed to get us into the mind set of being productive, when that battle proved to be futile I bargained that we go for a walk to start the day. Which sounded amazing to me because I was already starting to feel defeated! So this peaked his interest and he started to get dressed, this is an area that he’s still working on especially putting on pants. Then he amazes me and puts the pants on the correct way but the struggle comes with pulling them up, and he just breaks down. COMPLETELY breaks down like his world is falling apart. So this ensues a whole new battle, The Battle of the Pants. While this chaos takes place my husband just ignores it, the ultimate salt in the wound. If I’m going to commit to this I need to feel supported, this is something he doesn’t quite understand. Anyways, I finally just freak out along with Micah and dress him myself because I cant take the screaming anymore. Which genuinely makes me feel bad because I pride myself on being a gentle and loving parent because I am in reality a highly sensitive being and that kind of out burst burns me out, and I remember how I felt to have my parents assume that I needed tough love when in fact I needed support and understanding. So nonetheless in an effort to salvage our already sinking ship I grab some water for the two of us and pack Micah into the stroller and we take off. The goal today was two miles, I made it to .75 before I started to fall apart. My groin was killing me, I’m sure it was just round ligament pain like usual but it was so bad that I felt like I couldn’t turn around and walk home. So I text my husband to come pick us up but continue limp and push the stroller home just in case we bumped into him along the way. Then he never came, and I limped all the way home to lick my wounds. So my attempt to get our day on track only made our day inherently worse, because now I was in pain AND pissed off. But at this point Micah was in a much better mood and ready to get down to business, I’m sure this was his attempt at saving mommy’s pride. So we sat down at my desk and worked on numbers in his work book, just 1-10 (counting them and writing them). He also had enough momentum going to count a few objects as well (1-5) and read a circus counting book. After all that I’m sure he started to feel a little burnt out because he just wanted to snuggle and read his library books, which I had no objection to. So Micah and I read three books together, which I added to his summer reading log. Then we moved on to lunch, which was significantly less traumatic than the rest of our day., today’s menu called for grilled cheese and soup. Our day has completely turned around at this point but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to be a surly feral cat the rest of the day, but if Micah (an irrational two year old) can fix his attitude I’m sure I can adjust mine.
         I really don’t want to put too much pressure on him to work so he’s probably done for today, maybe some more reading at his leisure at most. We also managed to go until lunch time without television! He’s now watching Go Diego while eating (I guess we’ll supplement this as science!). Hopefully he’ll be ready to lay down for a nap after his lunch/tv time. I just hope that these days become increasingly easier because today all I could think about was whether or not I was short changing him by taking him out of daycare and if I could teach him enough to prepare him pre-school and kindergarten. I do know that in order for us to have a productive day we need to start our day earlier with a light breakfast (coffee for me) and a light walk just to get us in the learning mind set and relax a little. Getting time outside is personally one of the most important parts of my day and I know that I’ve passed that on to Micah as well. So I need to indulge in that even if we need to accommodate the desert heat. A regular schedule could also serve us pretty well too, making going through the transitions of the day a little easier and keeping the two of us on track.
         There will definitely be an update on our tricks and tweaks to perfecting this home school deal to fit us.
 
 

The black mothers stigma

Uncategorized, Women's Health

            As a mother and aspiring birth educator, I feel pretty strongly about breastfeeding. Although growing up I never saw an example of a mother adamant about breastfeeding. My own mother didn’t even breastfeed us, so I’m not sure where I got the notion that I would breastfeed. I assume that it was an experience kind of like deciding I would have a natural birth. We never talked about those things growing, I just assumed everyone had a medicated birth and everyone used formula. Then I saw “The Business of Being Born” and it opened me up to another world of parenting. At the time that I saw this I was already a sophomore at Southern Miss and I was in an English class with a pretty radical teacher (radical in comparison to me at that time), she talked about feminism and the right to choose what kind of experiences you would have in life. These experiences included child birth and parenthood. I discovered then that there are different ways of doing things.
            Even after deciding that I would personally breastfeed and doing a great deal of research, I didn’t see a ton of representation as far as breastfeeding. What I saw around me was typically white women breastfeeding, my friends with children formula fed, my family members formula fed, and I was formula fed. I didn’t understand why, with all the information about how beneficial it was, why weren’t black women breastfeeding. Even on tv shortly after the baby is born they pop a bottle into the mouths of those little brown babes. Why? Is it the lack of support at home? Could it be the lack of media representation? Why are black women lagging in the breastfeeding race? Why is there a negative connotation associated with black women and breastfeeding?


            Maybe two years ago shortly after I gave birth to my little boy a pretty controversial picture came out. Controversial is really very relative because by no means was controversial to me, especially as a proud breastfeeding mama. Nonetheless it was a picture of a young lady breastfeeding after graduation in her cap and gown. She was dragged all over twitter, more concerning (or just as concerning) than the blatant cyber bullying, her tormentors were primarily black! A few months later another picture came out, some how less controversial in content but still very similar pictures. This picture featured another young lady also in her cap and gown at her college graduation, breastfeeding. This particular picture was some how deemed adorable and inspiring. What was the difference? One thing, the first young lady was black and the latter was white. How could two pictures be viewed so differently though? How could other black people be so unsupportive of this black graduate simply because she was breastfeeding?


            A lot of women choose not to breastfeed due to myths that they’ve heard such as: the baby wont get enough to eat, breastfeeding is for poor people, breastfeeding leads to breast cancer, and breast are only for sexual pleasure. Although breastfeeding in the black community is on the rise, we still lag behind our counterparts of other races. I’ve narrowed down a few possible causes:
· Lack of support in hospitals (as well as health care providers and WIC counselors)
· Lack of support systems at home
· Lack of representation
· Lactation support isn’t available in that area
· Employment related barriers
· History of racial injustice in relation to breastfeeding
Typically the larger the black demographic is in a hospital, the less likely they are to encourage breastfeeding. Maybe due to the predisposition that black women don’t breastfeed. (more likely to encourage formula less likely to encourage rooming-in). There is also a lack of Baby-friendly hospitals, these are less likely to be prevalent where black women are the majority. They are more prevalent where black women have a less than average population. (For those who are not familiar baby- Baby Friendly Hospitals: The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program that was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 1991 to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding.) There may also be Lack of racial sensitivity to why black women may not want to breastfeed.


The lack of a support system could be maternal or spouse related. Many women have mothers who did not breastfeed, and don’t encourage it. Spouse are often afraid they wont be able to bond with the child if the mother breastfeeds, making them less supportive because they feel as though they cannot contribute to the child’s nourishment. Friends who did not breastfeed, therefore they offer little support when they breastfeeding journey gets tough. Lactation consultants, such as La Leche League offer free of services. But if you are not informed, often times you don’t know who to turn to for information and help.
There is definitely a lack of black representation within the media, which may in turn be due to the overall lack of representation when it comes to women of color or due to the actual lower numbers of women who breastfeed. We often see models and celebrities taking glamour shots of them breastfeeding or advocating on talk shows but I see very few black celebrities doing so. This is with the exception of Tia and Tamara on their reality show, and occasionally on Instagram.
There are also a variety of work related barriers, considering many work environments are condusive to long term breastfeeding and maternity leave laws that have long been outdated compared to other countries. Limited maternity leave doesn’t allow adequate time to establish a regular nursing routine and full time employment is counter productive in many cases of breastfeeding, causing mother and child to be apart long hours everyday. For those that prefer to pump, many employers don’t provide an adequate space or amount of time to do so, in addition to an unsupportive boss or generally unsupportive environment it makes it especially hard for women to continue breastfeeding after returning to work full time. 

A wet nurse is a woman who breast feeds and cares for another’s child. Wet nurses are employed when the mother is unable or chooses not to nurse the child herself. Wet nurses were used heavily during slavery but continued on even after the abolishment of slavery. Early wet nurses faced malnutrition and starvation of their own babies because long work hours away from home kept wet nurses from nursing there own babies. During the 1960’s-1970’s many women stopped breastfeeding altogether due to the negative connotation. Yet many southern families hired wet nurses well into the 1980’s.


How can we change the way we view breastfeeding in the black community, and how can we make it the norm? The best way to start would be peer to peer support, connecting with other moms who have breastfed or are currently breastfeeding. Then a support system within the home. A greater representation in the media would also be very beneficial, if more black mothers in the limelight talked about their breastfeeding experience it would encourage our everyday moms. Community support also plays a huge role in breastfeeding success, from hospitals, social services and increased access to lactation services. And finally support in the work place, the laws are there but they must be enforced. We need to fight for our rights to breastfeed and be encouraged to do so.

Dangers of Depo

Women's Health

So I don’t screen shot bits and pieces of articles because I like you guys to read things in their entirety. I’m sharing this because someone screen shot the title and a snippet of the article
Not only did they only display a misleading and small portion of the article but they added a very insulting caption.


The article in its entirety can be found here: http://www.blackisbackcoalition.org/2013/09/14/depo-provera-deadly-violence-against-women/

The depo-provera shot is heavily pushed in areas heavily populated with African American women. Nonetheless it obviously comes with significant risks, these risks aren’t hidden when you research it yourself. We have to start going into situations armed with knowledge because you can’t trust someone else to look out for your body if you aren’t doing so.

I used the depo shot for at least a year and my nurse practitioner (who was also a black woman) made sure to advise me on the risks each time. She strongly advised not to utilize the shot for more than 2 years at a time because women of color are naturally more prone to osteoporosis, and the depo shot zaps the calcium from your body. The depo shot is NOT for long term use. So people that say they have used it for 5 plus years are being downright neglectful as well as their physicians. With all of these very blatant risks such as hair loss, weight gain, loss of bone density, and excessive bleeding you shouldn’t want to use it that long.

It also failed to gain fda approval twice due to an association with cervical cancer and breast cancer. It also causes thinning of the vaginal walls, which has been linked to an increase risk of chlamydia, HIV, and ghonorrhea.