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.
*Name has been changed to protect privacy