This week Literary Mama published an interview with our EIC, Sherisa de Groot. They discussed the need for literary spaces specifically for BIPOC and how vital our role and platform is.
From the interview:
”AJ: Raising Mothers looks not only at motherhood, but also the lack of literary publications that focus on women and mothers of color. Your site states that “There is an endless supply of websites targeted at how to raise children from birth until they leave the nest. Few, if any, focus on raising us. Fewer still pay any attention to mothers of color.” What role do you think a journal or magazine that focuses on mother writers of color can play in challenging the status quo of the literary community? The parenting community?
SdG: I think literary journals like Raising Mothers play a vital role. We work diligently to make sure we see each other and to make sure everyone else does, too. There is a lack of representation across the board as to who and what is the motherhood ideal. Typically, that picture hasn’t been of someone who looks like my community. White, partnered motherhood is the standard. White female vulnerability, white female (and almost exclusively heteronormative) “girl/mom boss” is the image we’re fed. Things have changed quite a bit with the use of social media since I’ve become a parent, but structurally most things remain the same. I shouldn’t have to dig to find myself.
The world doesn’t work with Black women and other Women of Color in mind. This isn’t to take away from the wonderful internet spaces that do work to make us whole—makeup bloggers, natural hair bloggers, wellness personalities, etc.—but they tend to be viewed primarily by other Black women. It is my hope that Raising Mothers acts as a beacon of full, unapologetic living in our own unique truths and that everyone learns from that. Just the fact that we exist in public is an affront to what is considered the norm. I take pride in that. I hope to grow deeper in that in years to come.
AJ: Raising Mothers actively seeks out and publishes work by women of color and mothers who identify as LGBTQIA or differently abled. What challenges do you face when seeking out these voices?
SdG: There are two main issues: We are not funded by any grants or large donations (we are still working towards accomplishing our goal this year of being fully funded by our readers), and I have had a great deal of guilt asking people from already underpaid and severely marginalized groups to essentially write for us for free. I know that is mostly the name of the game in the literary world, but it’s especially difficult when you are starting out. I still feel like Raising Mothers is in the toddler phase. I am hoping that readers find enough value in the work we publish that they sign up to fund writers and artists. I have been truly fortunate thus far with the amount of talented writers that have lent their time and work to our mission.
The second challenge is making sure writers feel safe. As someone who is cis-femme identifying, I don’t pretend to know what life is like from the point of view of a transgender parent. I live as a Black woman. I know that. So I don’t use false equivalencies to their experience or how they feel sharing that with me and the Raising Mothers audience. This is why I work diligently on our Instagram to share my point of view as well as that of other marginalized voices.”
Please head over to Literary Mama and read our interview! Also, check out Deesha Philyaw’s retired column (it’s really good!) afterwards.
A big thank you to Amanda Jaros.
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