Black moms are serving lemonade. Straight up.
We have been dodging and weaving negative stereotypes since the beginning of time. America loves portraying us in a negative light and we are so over it. Our narrative reads that Black moms are angry. Uneducated. Won’t work. Can’t find a man. And the men that we do hook up with are dead-beat dads. Call it what you want: lies, untruths, #alternativefacts, but it’s simply all hogwash…skewed perceptions of who we are and what we represent. Basically, Black moms stay chained to America’s whipping post, expected to stand still and accept a public lashing for the state of our communities, poverty, and greater society.
Most of us weren’t born with silver spoons in our mouths and money growing on trees. Given institutional barriers, systematic racism, and gender inequality, we could just sit around and sulk about the wheelbarrow of sour lemons life dealt us. Instead, many Black moms are expertly trained baristas, serving up sweet and sassy lemonade at astonishing rates. And the world is sleeping on us.
While America is sleeping, we are moving.
I often read about all the hate and ridicule thrown our way and feel invisible. We are not monolithic and you can’t paint us with a broad, black brush. Our stories are diverse and there are many positive narratives to be told. What about all the Black moms out there slaying the game and changing the landscape of success? What about those who are running circles around America, stacking degrees and climbing ladders? Where do they fit into this umbrella narrative?
Black moms are America’s best kept secret. Despite the disparaging rhetoric, we tune out the noise and continue to excel for ourselves and our children. Staying in the race, even when society says we are the wrong gender and color. Outshining our counterparts when they assume we are sitting back, collecting free checks. We are raising leaders in the face of adversity. While America is sleeping, we are moving and shaking. So it’s time to dismantle the lies.
Myth: Black moms are angry Black women.
Truth: We aren’t angry, we are serious about success.
Many of us were raised in strict households. There was no talking back, raising our fist, name-calling or slamming doors around these parts. And every Black mom issued that well-known threat at least once in her lifetime: “do not embarrass me in public.” School was not a joke, chores had to be done and everyone knew mama was….say it with me…”your mom, not your friend.” In short, we come from a world where universally, moms “don’t play that” and expectations are high.
But America has no idea how to read us and gets us wrong every time. Don’t mistake our determination for anger. We take motherhood seriously and are up for the challenge. We only have one time to get it right and we can’t afford to mess it up. Unlike our white counterparts, we don’t have the ivory privilege to leisurely fix stuff later. It’s no surprise that America often mislabels us as “angry Black moms.” Decades ago, we were referred to as “negro wenches,” mammies, and Jezebel. Society has always wanted to over-sexualize us and portray us as angry beasts.
But these stereotypes are not true. We aren’t angry, we are determined. We aren’t bitter, we are resilient. And we take motherhood seriously. We are teaching discipline, respect and persistence. It is imperative that our children achieve and understand how high the stakes are. We are serious about our success in motherhood and regardless of what America says, we will continue to move forward at astonishing rates.
Myth: Black women are uneducated and don’t want to learn.
Truth: We are slaying education.
Speaking of serious, Black women are making huge strives in education.
Between 2009 and 2010, of degrees awarded to Black students, Black women received:
- 68% of the country’s associate’s degrees
- 66% of bachelor’s degrees
- 71% of master’s degrees
- 65% of doctorate
In addition, the study shows that Black women enroll in college at a higher rate than white men, white women, and Asian women. In the Black community, messages are circulating that education is the root of success, and Black women are listening and accepting the call.
The most important message we send to our children is that education is power. We are creating blueprints of success and showing them how to climb over oppression, one stiletto boot at a time. One of the most influential factors of college enrollment and completion rates is whether the student’s parent attended college. We are doing our part to create generational road-maps and enhance our family pedigree. When we normalize education in our own households, we are passing down a gift for many generations to come.
Many of us ingrain the idea of college into our household early in parenthood. By the age of 3, college is in our children’s vocabulary. By age 10, they know it’s not IF you go to college, but where. By age 16, they’ve narrowed down their top 5 HBCUs, and by 18, they are gracing the yard. Education is becoming a part of our DNA.
Myth: Black women don’t like to work.
Truth: We work more than average women.
Word on the street is that Black women are lazy, don’t want to work, and prefer to depend on welfare. According to data, we are actually outworking our counterparts. In fact, Black women participate in the workforce at a rate of 71%, a whole 2 percentage points over the national average for women. Despite the fact that Black women hold 6% fewer white collar jobs and the median income is $5,000 less than “all women,” we are still showing up and clocking in. The higher rate speaks to our attitude, dedication and drive.
So what does this mean for us moms? We are sending strong messages about our work ethics. Our commitment and dedication to our families manifests in careers across many disciplines. We are showing our children what responsibility looks like, and that hard work leads to promotions, rewards, and job stability.
We are proving that there are obtainable careers in the STEM fields. That Black women make amazing doctors and premier educators. That Black attorneys are wowing America with their #BlackGirlMagic. That finding your purpose through entrepreneurship is key. We may have to work harder, stay later, and present better than other groups of men and women just to prove our worth. But we are showing up and creating pathways for our children and that, America, is your real narrative.
Myth: Black moms choose fathers that aren’t around
Truth: Black dads are more involved than other racial groups
Yes, it’s true that our marriage rate are less than the national average. But data also shows that Black fathers are stepping up. In our culture, marriage does not solely define a successful household. With all else equal, Black fathers are still more involved in their children’s day-to-day lives than other racial groups. Mainstream America may misunderstand our family structure and assume our households are in shambles. But in comparison, our fathers are still showing up and doing their part in raising our young boys and girls.
According to the CDC, Black fathers show as much, if not more involvement with their children than their white and Latino counterparts across categories:
- Helping with homework
- Extracurricular activities
As a whole, we are choosing fathers that are serious about parenthood and fighting to disprove their own negative stereotypes. We are partnering with our men to raise an entire generation of children armed with the tools for success, while minimizing the threat of racist barriers and institutionalized blockades.
Black moms are leading by example.
America has it’s narrative about Black mothers, and then there’s the truth. Black moms are defying stereotypes and doing phenomenally well. Despite what others think, we are silently moving ahead and slaying at motherhood. Collectively, we teach our Black boys how to break down systemic barriers. We show our girls how to love their black skin and value their natural essence. We prove to all that education is power, and every career field is open. We teach our children that even the presidency is obtainable. And most importantly, we are teaching America the truth about who we really are.
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