Who Knew That Starting a Black Mommy Blog Would Be This Controversial?


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I’ve shared before that I started this site because, during my pregnancy, I was surprised at how few black mom blogs existed. Now that I’m in the mommy blogging game, I realize that that wasn’t entirely true. I really wasn’t looking hard enough, because there are quite a few awesome blogs out there written by some incredible black moms. But they certainly don’t have the visibility or name recognition of the top mommy blogs.

So this site was designed to be a take on motherhood, by black women. Simple, right? Not so much.

In the few months that Baby and Blog has existed, I have fielded many accusations from non-black mothers that this space is racist. Yes, racist. I have been told that Baby and Blog is exclusionary, and racist, and wrong, and that I should be ashamed of myself.

These accusations don’t offend me, they fascinate me. And they have forced me to think hard about what I’m trying to accomplish here and why.

And after some soul searching I’ve come to the conclusion that I love this space, I need this space, and I want this space. And it certainly is not racist.

A few months back I was chatting with my friend Lisa*. Lisa is my playdate partner and an old college schoolmate. She is Chinese American. In her spacious kitchen we discussed neighborhoods. I was looking to move out of mine and was struggling with where to go next. I lamented how segregated Chicago is, and how difficult it is to find diverse communities here.

But while I was in search of a diverse community, Lisa was in search of Chinese-American community. Her parents are immigrants, and she wants their language and customs to be familiar to her children.

Her children are American, yes, but their cultural heritage is also in China. And they will have to negotiate that dual heritage as they grow. In the meanwhile, Lisa wants them to be armed with cultural knowledge.

Parenting is not just about taking care of kids. It is about passing down traditions and history. Blacks in America have a unique history and experience, and it’s worth preserving, acknowledging and passing down. We’re often made to feel that it isn’t. But it is.

We’re made to feel ashamed for identifying it, for reveling in it, for prioritizing it. But we shouldn’t.

I would never shame Lisa, or an Indian American or an Irish American for celebrating their dual heritage and seeking community. So why should I feel shame?

As black Americans, it’s not just our history and heritage that is shared. It’s the uniqueness of our current experience. Of learning how to take care of curly and coily hair, or teaching our kids to love their brown skin. Sometimes we share the harder things, like overcoming socioeconomic disparities, or creating rich experiences in communities that lack resources, or dealing with racial prejudice. These experiences are not universal to all black mothers in America, but the experiences do overlap.

And of course, a lot of what we experience as mothers is universal. I can learn about breastfeeding, or co-sleeping, or baby-wearing from anyone. And I did. I owe my incredible and easy childbirth to two caring and empathetic midwives, who were white. I only survived breastfeeding because of a white lactation consultant who told me to call her “any time” and eventually stopped charging because I called and showed up to her office so much. I am deeply grateful to these women. I admire and I respect them.

But finding books that affirm black boys, or room decor that affirms black girls. Learning how to encourage my son to question the unjust society he lives in, or how to celebrate Kwanzaa. These are things that I need YOU for. You the women who write these pieces, you the women who comment and share your advice.

So, yes I love this space. And no, it’s not racist. To reduce this community to a question of inclusion or exclusion is to miss the point entirely. This is a space designed to teach, to fellowship and to celebrate.

Leila Noelliste is the founder and editor of Baby and Blog and Black Girl with Long Hair.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy


  • Kristin Parker

    Good for you, and job well done!

    We have the same desires for our children as white moms or any other mom. How are we supposed to pass down how to care for our childrens hair or skin when the only blogs or articles are purdominatly founded by white women. How many white women ask a black women how to care for their child’s hair? None…
    It’s so much more than that. We pass down tradition, heritage, and HOPE!
    I just wish you were around during my pregnancies!

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    • Baby and Blog

      Thanks for the kind words Kristin 🙂

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  • Shaniqua

    I truly appreciate this blog. I can not overstate that.

    Thank you for showing the world that we are not the “one in a million black mother” here. As hard as it is for some people to believe, this space is representing … mainstream black mothers. That is what I love about it.

    I haven’t seen anything close to racist *yet*… not that I was looking for that. I sent the Asbergers link to a white friend for her son and she was thankful and ecstatic on the book recommendation. I sent the miscarriage link to an asian friend she was very thankful. I don’t see that you ladies have excluded anyone. The mom experience is the same.

    The name is so obscure I only “got” the jist of the intended audience by linking together many articles. The articles spoke to me. So did the beautiful photos. After a while it occurred to me “the author has to be black”, no wonder she could read me and my world and (so many of) my thoughts!

    I love (and miss) seeing photos of black moms and babies! Where I live your blog is as close as I get to seeing a strange black face on a daily basis 🙁

    The name is *so* obscure, the format is so professional that it leaves many people to believe that it is a “mainstream” blog… ie intended for a white audience and they feel duped and mislead… hence their anger.

    One of the saddest realizations I have had living among white people is the pity and low opinion they have of “most” black people. They think I’m some strange anomaly of a “decent” black person. While I am “representing” where I live, I know I’m not alone out there. I come from a whole family of them and raised in a whole black neighborhood full of them.
    I’m just alone here. 🙁

    Black mothers are supposed to be unmarried, publicly airing baby mama drama & too illiterate and you know… supposed to be like the ones they see on Maury Povich. Black mothers are not supposed to have a blog as classy as this.

    It blows their mind and ruins their paradigm of what a black mother is to see us publicly chatting about homeschool, homebirth, breastfeeding and our children who can read and speak a foreign language at 2.

    In other words they are player hating. Hard.
    In their mind if the blog creator is racist, than they can dismiss it, trivialize it and/or try to bring it down.

    Author(s)… please don’t take the bait.

    If anything read Warriors Don’t Cry. That book tells a tale & should totally be in your list of books our children should read (age 14+)

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    • Baby and Blog

      Thank you so much Shaniqua. When I was pregnant it did bother me that a lot of the material I found regarding black women and motherhood had to do with how we were struggling — because we don’t breastfeed, because we don’t do natural birth, because we don’t teach our kids well enough, because we don’t do this, or we don’t do that. And I think, sadly, that is the narrative that reigns in mainstream culture when it comes to black motherhood (either that or we’re totally invisible). That narrative is not true of me personally, and it’s not true of any of the black mothers I know. I wanted a space to connect with other mothers like me *and* also to reach out to black mothers who maybe are struggling with breastfeeding, or natural birth, or how to educate, etc, etc.

      This site definitely comes from a place of love and the idea of it being “racist” is jarring to hear. But I do think it has more to do with those mothers making the accusations than it has to do with us.

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      • Shaniqua

        You are right about helping struggling mamas. Even though my cousins are not “struggling” per se, I did get my typical (our historical relationship) weirdo jokes about wanting a homebirth and breastfeeding. My mom & gram were rather unsupportive of breastfeeding, and wanted me to add cereal to formula… All of that is old school stuff common to just about everyone. I did learn to read very young as education is considered very important in our family.

        My mom cloth diapered me and she discovered EC naturally with me when I was a baby so I was completely done with diapers at 18 months… My mom was pretty “retro/progressive” for her time and place. My son was potty trained at 14 months but night weaning took til 22 months since he slept in his own room.

        As I think about it maybe we are more progressive/early adopters than mainstream for any “race”. It’s so normal to me I don’t think much of it. I’m still not the isolated black mom about it and this community feels good to me.

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        • Baby and Blog

          Hold up! You potty trained your son at 14 months old?!?! How?!?!?

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          • Shaniqua

            Have you heard of Elimination Communication? I started when he was 4months old. He had 1-2 poops and 3 pees a day in the potty. He regressed at 8 months when he started to crawl, then dropped it completely when he started to walk at 11 months (doesn’t always happen but it can). I gave it up for 7 months. When he was good at walking I tried another method at 14 months and it stuck after a few days. Want me to write an article about my experience with it? Kinda neat since I have experience with both methods. It’s also possible to do EC part time. I also know cloth diaper tricks and tons about nutrition.

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            • Baby and Blog

              Yes! I would like it very much if you could write a piece. Can you email me at leila@babyandblog.com . Thanks!

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    • Liz

      What a lot of people refuse to remember is that it was Black American women raised a lot of White Americans kids historically–they trusted us to raise our kids and cook good food then, but suddenly now we are incapable…

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  • http://didanashanta.com Didan Ashanta

    This space is VERY special to me as well, because my African heritage and knowing how to gift that to my child is so important to me. I have learnt so much since finding Baby and Blog!

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    • Baby and Blog

      And I have learned so much from you Didan! I shared your STEM article with my hubby and he loved it 🙂 We discuss it often. You are an incredible woman!!

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  • nicole

    I dont even have any children and wont for at lease four years but i wandered over to this blog when my friend-in-head Leila started it because i love her writing style and i love bglh. That being said, i also love this blog. It is extremely well written, well designed and interesting to read, especially for a black woman considering having children in the future. Saying that this blog is racist is to never have read it. Like an earlier comment said, theyre upset and taken aback when they come to a site that is clean, polished and professional.

    Keep it up Leila, the only way u have to go is forward

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    • Baby and Blog

      How sweet, lol 🙂 And lol at “friend-in-head”. Thanks so much!!

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  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    Very well said, Leila 🙂

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    • Baby and Blog

      Thanks Deanna 🙂

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  • Vennesa

    I am a white mom of a beautiful black baby girl. I enjoy and learn from your blog. I need all the help I can get to raise my daughter to be proud of who she is. There are lots of mommy blogs out there but they can’t help me with my baby’s hair or give me insight on how to deal with the issues that my daughter will grow up with. So please, keep doing what you’re doing!

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    • Baby and Blog

      Thank you so much Vennesa. And how heartening that you want to learn from black moms 🙂 I hope that we can continue to be resource for you! Your daughter is blessed to have you!

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  • Sarah

    I am a White woman and will soon be the mother of a White child. I truly enjoy this blog and think it’s absurd that anyone would find it racist. Much of the information here is useful to anyone, but more than that I enjoy hearing about the perspectives of Black mothers. I live in a diverse community (40% White/40% Black/15% Hispanic/5% Asian), so my child will be surrounded by people of all races and ethnicities. Raising a child to see other people for who they are without prejudice in this country is a challenge, and this blog gives me great ideas for how to go about that project. Although my child will be White, I want him to have books and toys that reflect other people and other cultures. I want these things to be normal and expected in his life. I also want to be an ally to my friends and neighbors of other races as they work to raise their children to be strong and proud in a a culture that isn’t always helpful, and I think that being an ally starts with listening. Thanks for all you do and thanks for being brave enough to keep going no matter what some people may think.

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    • Baby and Blog

      Thank you Sarah! And what an incredible point of view you have! Thanks for being part of the community 🙂

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  • Angele

    This blog is needed and I am glad it is here. Although we can learn a lot of universal things from any community, it is especially nice when you can also see the validation coming from sistas. Thank you for opening up this space for Black mothers and everyone else who follows the blog.

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  • http://derrickharriell.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/welcome-to-the-frat-house/ April

    I just discovered this blog searching on the internet about ways to moisturize my 19 month old’s son natural and very curly hair. This is a great blog and I will be sure to check it out and all that it has to offer. Let me pass on another blog (new) from a black male’s perspective– who is home with his son (our son) 4 days a week, full time assistant professor @ Ole Miss, and is also a writer. Hope some find his perspective just as refreshing as I have found this blog of awesome writers!

    http://derrickharriell.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/welcome-to-the-frat-house/

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  • Ronnie

    I just had to tell you that I love love your blog and I am so happy that I found it! I’m a mom to a 9 month old little girl and I can relate to everything that I read here. It’s ridiculous that anyone would call this blog racist! I suspect it’s likely the same type of person who does not understand anything about race in this country. At the end of the day its wonderful we live in a land that we can blog and talk about anything and that includes celebrating and reveling in ourselves! Shoot we are an amazing group of women and there is nothing about us that should be hidden or watered down so that we are palatable to the mainstream audience. I want my daughter to grow up confident and understand she can be the best version of herself with no shame or fear, not the disney version or the nickelodeon version or any other standard that forces her to go the unnatural route to suppress her natural beauty and intelligence. Keep blogging and much love,

    Ronnie

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