Monday, March 16, 2009

MyBrownBaby: Where No Question Is Considered A Dumb Question

I started MyBrownBaby on a whim last September—back when the presidential election was in full gear and the Bristol Palin teen pregnancy fiasco was setting the news cycles on fire. My first post questioned how lil’ Miss Bristol’s pregnancy would have been viewed if she were, oh, say, a black teenager—a conversation that was being had by black moms everywhere, but was virtually ignored in every news story/analysis from here to Wasilla.

It was an observation that combined the two things I love writing about most—black folks and parenting—and I thought it a fitting debut post for MyBrownBaby, which I created to be a space where black moms could lend their critical voice, a voice that all-too-often is missing from the parenting debate. My intent was to make MyBrownBaby irreverent. Funny. Full of posts that make you think. Maybe even say, “Amen,” because it reminds you of what’s going on behind your closed door, with your family.

A place where African American moms—and their opinions—matter, and are heard, respected, and revered. For their poignancy and strength. For their intelligence and authenticity. Because they deserve it.

While I intended for black moms to call MyBrownBaby home, I certainly hoped that ALL moms would feel comfortable sitting on the MyBrownBaby stoop and commiseratating/learning/teaching about their views on motherhood, too. It never occurred to me, though, how difficult such a union would be—how it would feel, some days, more like a shotgun wedding than a uniting of minds and the sharing of opinions.

Nothing was truer this past weekend, when a post I wrote about a Today Show segment on Nadya Suleman, and a subsequent question I posed about the difference between how black moms and white moms viewed it, had a few folks coming thisclose to calling me a racist. It seemed that just posing a simple question—one that sought understanding, sans judgment—was enough to make people either cower in fear or lash out. Accuse and point fingers or fall dead silent.

A post I wrote a few months back, about a steamy conversation I had with a few white mom bloggers I met and became friends with on a Disney Wonder cruise, lays out pretty clearly how I feel about the need for us to get comfortable with asking and accepting questions without judgment. But the craziness of yesterday made me dig back deeper, to an email conversation I had with a dear blog friend of mine I met on the Mom Bloggers Club, back when both of us were fresh and new on the blogging scene. She came to me in confidence, so I’m not going to name names, but she reached out to me to tell me that while she loved my blog and reads it daily, she felt uncomfortable commenting on it:

Her: Your blog is one of the most professional-looking blogs I have ever seen and it's easy to see what a blessing you are to those who visit your site. 

I usually don't leave comments on your blog though because my fear is that I would be intruding. I am hoping and praying that that doesn't sound offensive in any way, because I truly do love your blog. It's one of my "must-read" blogs that I go to every day. At the same time, I don't want to intrude on what the purpose of your blog is (since I am obviously a very white country gal) and offend any of your readers either by posting my thoughts on issues that might not even pertain to me…. I really have enjoyed getting to know you and reading the thoughts of someone who has a different view on some topics than I might have and yet very similar views on other topics… your blog opens up a world of issues to me that I wouldn't typically encounter on a daily basis here in "Nowheresville."

Me: It has been such a pleasure getting to know you, too, and I appreciate your honesty and candor. I hear where you're coming from and understand your hesitancy in commenting, but I need you to know that your comments/thoughts/opinions are WELCOMED with open arms, a lot of love, and the deep belief that though we may come from separate places and have different backgrounds, we are ALL moms who want the same things for our families, and especially for our children. Sure, there are going to be times when you won't necessarily agree with the MBB posts/writers or identify with where we're coming from, but there will certainly be many more times than not that you'll be able see something in the posts that you can relate to your own life. What I'm most happy about is that you're coming to MBB to learn something you didn't know--to see perspectives that are fresh and different and interesting and eye-opening. That tells me a lot about you—most important that you're my kind of friend.

These days, she comments sans embarrassment or fear, much as I do on her blog. And we learn from one another every day—about family and motherhood, love and relationships, and especially what it feels like to walk in each other’s shoes. Judgment is checked at the door. And the only entrance fee is an open mind.

What a beautiful world this would be if we all could be more honest, open and ready to receive. I know I’ve got work to do. But I’m willing to work.

Are you?

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  1. Denene, I love you blog and I am not a Mommy:) I love your thoughtful, insightful look at things. Leave alone judgement, even tolerance is very hard for a lot of people. I think is deep rooted and hard to let go of and it takes a different level of awareness to even know that one is participating in it. But, we all can change and hopefully certain events help jumpstart that awareness in us, like this post did. Keep on writing:):)

  2. It's funny because I write a breastfeeding blog aimed at moms of color, but the overwhelming majority of my commenters/readers/followers are white women. They are very passionate about breastfeeding in a way that many black moms aren't, although I wish they were. Sometimes I am a bit disappointed that I don't have more blakc readers, but I know that as my blog grows that I'll get there. I, too, love to hear from my readers and I completely welcome their input regardless of race.

  3. I always love reading your blog. So insightful, so necessary. I always want to grab some tea when I come here and get nice and cozy. I also want you to update more (lol) and let us know where else we can find you. I just like hearing your "voice" and find it helpful both as a writer and mother. So keep doing what you do!


  4. @Kala: Thank you so much for that encouragement--it means the world to me!

    @Blacktating: Baby, keep doing what you do. Yours is an important voice--one that we should all be listening to. I'm going to make it my business to come see you more often!

    @Tara: You're as refreshing as a tall glass of southern sweet tea... THANK YOU for loving MBB, and I'll try to do better about letting you guys know what I'm up to. It takes A LOT for me to toot my own horn, I promise you, but I'm trying to get better about it! And you're doing your thing over at YoungMommyLife, too! Keep on writing, teaching, learning and growing. I'm right there with you!

  5. I love this blog and your refreshing take on motherhood. I may not always comment but I'm here taking it all in. You're a gifted writer and I'm glad that you are sharing your craft. Blessings

  6. I feel like hanging out with a friend when visiting your blog. You've got wonderful stories to tell and the comfortable, down home feeling makes your blog coming to over and over again.

    By the way, I saw your book at Borders and I definitely intend to purchase it! It looks great!

  7. I love your blog, your advice and your heartwarming stories about your mother.

    I read your "controversial" post about The Today Show segment and all the comments that followed; and I must say I love that you left in EVERYONE's point of view -even when it was getting hot and sticky.

    Keep on doing what you do.

    Winks & Smiles,

  8. I am. That's one of the things I love about this space and your writing.

  9. Just found your blog, looking forward to reading though it. Just wanted to say hello and not be a lurker...Aly.

  10. @Aly: Thanks for stopping by and saying "hello!" It's good to (virtually) meet you; take a look around and enjoy!

  11. Conversation (even uncomfortable ones) need to be had otherwise there's no progress and no understanding.

  12. Girl you know I love you to death! And no truer words have been spoken...uh...written. We can all learn something from each other no matter what our race it. We all have gifts and ideas to share. All it takes is an open mind and an open heart. No one should feel afraid to comment here! This is one of the most welcoming places in the blogosphere!


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