Mama's Writing

Rebecca Carroll | Mama’s Writing

Mama’s Writing is Raising Mothers’ monthly interview series, curated by Deesha Philyaw.

How has parenting influenced your writing?

It has brought clarity to my writing, and a sense of profound urgency. It didn’t occur to me until I became a parent that my writing is my legacy, and it is for my son. That was a real epiphany that happened for me in 2014, and I write about it in my memoir, Surviving the White Gaze. The day that Michael Brown was murdered by police in Ferguson, Missouri, and my then-9-year-old asked if he or I would get shot because we are Black, I knew that in addition to mothering him through my answer, I needed to also commit the truth of my answer, and its legacy — of police profiling and murdering Black boys and men — through writing.  

How has writing influenced your parenting?

Writing for me is a discipline, and a form of expression — by doing that, and I write almost exclusively at the kitchen table in the center of our home, I’m modeling for my son both discipline, and one way to be expressive. 

What three words describe you as a mother?

Openhearted, tender, emphatic.

What are three words your child would use to describe you?

Writer, nice, attentive.

What’s the worst motherhood advice you’ve ever gotten?

Sleep train your baby.

What’s your least favorite thing about being a mother?

Letting go of him as a little boy. Missing the smell of his skin as a baby. 

What makes you a bad-ass mother?

My son is the single most important and magnificent person in the world — fight me. 

Photo credit: Laura Fuchs

Rebecca Carroll is a former cultural critic at WNYC, where she was also host of the podcast Come Through: 15 essential conversations about race in a pivotal year for America. A former critic-at-large for the Los Angeles Times, Rebecca is currently an editor-at-large for The Meteor, a new media collective. She is creator and host of the award-winning Audible original, Billie Was a Black Woman, a companion podcast to the 2021 film, The United States Vs. Billie Holiday, as well as the creator and curator of the live event and audio series, In Love & Struggle, which shares the lives and experiences of Black women in America through monologues, stories, music, and humor. Rebecca is the author of several books about race in America, including the award-winning Sugar in the Raw: Voices of Young Black Girls in America. Her recently published, critically-acclaimed memoir, Surviving the White Gaze, has been optioned by MGM Studios and Killer Films for a limited TV series with Rebecca attached to write and executive produce. Rebecca lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy Raising Mothers, please consider becoming a sustaining member to help us remain ad-free. Invest in amplifying the voices of Black, Asian, Latine(x), Indigenous and other parents of color at our many intersections. Tiers start at $5/month and reflect your financial comfort. 

Support Raising Mothers

Filed under: Mama's Writing


Deesha Philyaw’s debut short story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the 2020/2021 Story Prize, and the 2020 LA Times Book Prize: The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies focuses on Black women, sex, and the Black church, and is being adapted for television by HBO Max with Tessa Thompson executive producing. Deesha is also a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow.