Raising Mothers and mater mea talk to Mutha Magazine
“mater mea: I think, for the both of us, we were looking out at the media landscape and found it to be sorely lacking in what we needed at the time. We were both following that adage of creating what we didn’t see. What did it mean for you as a new mom to not see a community of mothers of color online, and how did that inform the direction of Raising Mothers?
Raising Mothers: I found it tiresome to feel so invisible. I’ve always been hyper aware of the general online landscape since I’ve been an avid reader of too many blogs to make sense and I’ve also had my own blog in various iterations over the years. In the past few years, there have been some really great sites like My Brown Baby, MommyNoire and Baby and Blog catering to Black mothers, but I still didn’t see myself. I am more pulled to reading long essays rather than articles. I literally couldn’t findme so I made a place for women like me. I’m a Black mother in an interracial marriage living in a foreign country raising a multiracial child on our own. I know we exist because I have the friends to prove it, but I couldn’t find our stories. I also couldn’t find the voices of other non-Black mothers of color in large supply.
I wanted a place that you visit and you get comfortable. You hear your stories and more importantly, you see your family represented. I view Raising Mothers as more of a literary magazine and I don’t restrict myself to only mothers of color. Motherhood is universal. I open it to anyone interested in writing an essay, but I interview mothers of color to make sure that visually, we are present.”
“mater mea: How has your understanding of motherhood and Blackness altered or stayed the same now that you live in Amsterdam?
Raising Mothers: That’s an interesting question because my understanding of both haven’t been directly informed by my living in Amsterdam to an extent where I would make mention of it. As far as Blackness and race goes, I can relate to the issues here since I am a first generation American myself, so I grew up more Caribbean than American. The history here is layered and different to American history, obviously. There is plenty of overt and more dangerously, subtle racism, but people are speaking up and change is happening at its own pace.
As far as my place in that, I think out of respect for those living here for generations my position should be one of supportive observance. I don’t need to force myself into their change because I don’t want to ever change the discourse into it being an “American” movement. When I moved here, I went through a series of emotions over the first 18 months. I would say they varied from rejecting being called an expat to finally accepting that this is life for now. I don’t come from a family of expats and I want to be aligned with my family, so I proudly and more comfortably refer to myself as an immigrant. Here, I am seen first as American, which is something I have struggled with a great deal (especially since I’m a dual citizen).
Not everyone that moves to a new country does so under contract with a fancy job and renting a split-level house with a backyard. Especially in Amsterdam. The disparity between classes is very stark here and being American usually denotes things I do not relate to. I’ve recognized that Blackness in other parts of the world are as I’ve always known it to be: multi-layered, not monolithic, arrested and free.
When it comes to my understanding of motherhood, I think I desperately cling to my own memory of what it means to grow up in my childhood home and community. That aspect is the polar opposite here; I miss having a Jamaican and West Indian community around me. I sometimes miss living in and appreciate coming from a multi-generational household. I’ve never lived as a nucleus before becoming a parent. I love some parts of it very much and treasure that I am the true final say in how my son is raised and I think it’s emboldened me to find and assert my voice on our behalf on a much faster pace. But what I wouldn’t give for a day off while his grandma takes him out or plays with him. I’ve come to terms with it now, but for the first 14 months (before our first visit back home), I couldn’t even think about my mother without tearing up that she doesn’t get to have the relationship with her grand baby that I had with her mother. I want that so much for us both.”