little bit about your background and your current projects.
been an at-home mother for five years and am immensely happy to
have made the decision for myself and for my family to be at-home
with our girls. Being at home has really allowed me the greatest
room to grow and cultivate my talents and interests.
Since my mother stayed
at home with my three brothers and me, it was a relatively easy
decision for me to make to stay at home, even though there are
tremendous pressures, especially in the black community, to be
a member of the paid workforce.
I have a lot going on
right now. I have a full plate and have been really busy for the
last year and a half, but I’m tremendously enjoying myself
everyday. Both NAAHA and Mommy Too! Magazines are growing
rapidly and I am happy to be a part of a growing community of famiIies
and mothers who are looking at life a little differently.
At the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill I was an East Asian Studies Major and was
intent on parlaying my interests into an international law career,
but I thought otherwise of that after I got married and had my
first daughter. I recently became a consultant to the Monthly Magazine
World Report, a South Korean magazine, after they interviewed me
about NAAHA and homeschooling in the black community. I assist
their overseas reporter on issues affecting the United States.
So, as luck would have it, I am able to keep one foot involved
in issues affecting East Asia as well as working on projects that
affect me as an at-home, homeschooling mother of color.
research indicates that mothers of color are significantly
under-represented in popular parenting magazines. Was that
one of the reasons you were inspired to start up Mommy Too! Magazine?
The lack of mothers of color seen in parenting magazines and elsewhere
in media and advertising was really the sole reason for starting Mommy Too! Magazine.
I had to really ask myself some honest questions about how mothers
of color, especially black mothers, are depicted in America. We’re
really not seen as mothers at all, or if we are viewed as mothers
we aren’t afforded the same treatment as other mothers. Overwhelmingly
we are shown as the savvy, or not-so-savvy, career woman. But where
is our maternal side? Or, we’re shown to have some problem
with mothering or motherhood in general. We either can’t
mother properly or we don’t care about being mothers. That’s
why I started Mommy Too! Magazine. I wanted mothers
of color to be able to log onto the site and read the collective
voices of other mothers of color because despite what magazines,
other media and ads tell us, we do exist and we have stories to
tell and advice to share.
issues of Mommy Too! cover topics that might be
of interest to most at-home moms—books, personal essays,
lifestyle features, working from home, lifetime learning and
personal growth. How do you see the content of Mommy Too! developing
over time? What distinguishes your magazine from other resources
for at-home moms that don’t focus so specifically on the
needs and interests of mothers of color?
an excellent question because Mommy Too! Magazine,
although only six months old, has already shifted focus a bit.
Originally designed for at-home mothers of color, Mommy Too! Magazine
is now tailored to all mothers of color, whether working or not.
This is all because of our readers. We have a large number of working
mothers who read each issue of Mommy Too! Magazine
and wrote in to let me know. They wanted some place to be included
as well and I am extremely happy about the change in focus.
The primary editorial
areas will largely remain the same, but there will now be a balance
of material that speaks to both at-home and working mothers of
color. I will be focusing in particular on publishing personal
essays from mothers of color as well as poetry and artwork.
Incidentally, the majority
of our readers are black moms, but we do have a few Latina moms
who read Mommy Too! In the future, I hope to better
reach out to the Latina community about mothering issues.
To date, there is no other
web magazine like Mommy Too! on the Net, at least
based on my research which has been extensive. Mommy Too! is
published each month on a regular basis and is the only web portal
that provides timely, up-to-date information for mothers of color.
There are plenty of websites
out there that speak to black women, but they don’t speak
to us as mothers. I am thrilled to be a pioneer in this effort.
stereotypes represent most mothers of color as “working
mothers,” and current census figures show that married
African American mothers with children under 18 have higher rates
of workforce participation than other married mothers– 82 percent compared to 71 percent of white moms, 66 percent of Asian moms and 62 percent of Latina moms. Do you see these trends changing?
do see these trends changing. When my mother stayed at home with
us, it was definitely not the “in thing” to do if you
were a black mother. As I look back, my mother really had no true
friends in our neighborhood because all of the other mothers worked.
I mean ALL of the other mothers worked and their children came
to our house after school because my mom was at home.
There was a distinct divide
there between my mother and the other moms in the neighborhood.
She was never included in the things that the other moms in the
neighborhood were involved in. She was an afterthought and that
hurt for me to see. She and other black mothers like her, though,
paved the way for younger mothers like me who opt to stay home
I talk to black mothers
all of the time, no matter what their socioeconomic status is,
who are staying at home with the children or working at night or
on the weekends on a part-time basis. Certainly over time, the
numbers of black at-home mothers will grow, although it will be
a gradual rise in numbers because for all intents and purposes,
staying at home is still not the “in thing” to do for
Organizations such as Mocha
and BEAMoms – Black Educated At-Home Moms (www.beamoms.com),
though, have made staying at home an easier decision to make
for black mothers because they see that if they do stay at home
with their children, they aren’t letting their families
and communities down.
you feel white mothers and mothers of color encounter different
social and cultural pressures when they decide to leave the paid
workforce to care for their families? Do you also see similarities?
matter what color we are, we all have pressures as women to work
in the paid workforce, especially if we have degrees and advanced
degrees. Our culture tells us that if we don’t work, then
it’s doomsday in the end for us. Our children will be grown
and we’re all washed up.
I think, with the feminist
movement more white mothers were busting out of the home because
they were, for so long, expected to be care-giving goddesses to
their children, while also keeping the house and tending to their
husbands. I also think, for white women, there is the pressure
to stay in the paid workforce because there is a fear there that
everything the feminist movement created can be slowly eroded if
more mothers reject the notion of work over home. This fear, in
my opinion—and I’m not white, so I really don’t
know for sure—is both individual and collective. Individually,
mothers fear loosing ground in their careers, but as a whole white
mothers feel the pressure of loosing gained ground forged by the
feminist movement when they opt out.
black women have always worked. There was really no other alternative
for us, or our families wouldn’t eat. We didn’t have
the luxury of staying at home with our own children day after day.
The oppression for black women, to say the least, was an entirely
Today women of all colors
have so many more choices than we once did and I give full credit
to the feminist movement for this. As aforementioned, black mothers
have always worked and we are expected in our communities to always
work because that is what we have always done.
Cultural legacies really
don’t fall away easily and there are some definite family
repercussions from slavery that are present even today. For example,
we have fewer numbers of two-parent households in the black community.
That is a direct result of slavery where blacks were not allowed
familial relationships. We have a larger percentage of single black
mothers, which means more black mothers are working and absolutely
cannot opt out. As slaves we were single mothers and motherhood
was often stripped from us as our children were sold away. That
said, as black mothers, we are really not that far removed from
our slave ancestors because you still see the legacy of what the
slave institution engrained in us and in society even over a hundred
and fifty years later.
So, to really get to the
point, black women have more pressures to work based on trends
in the black community as well as based on the inherent judgment
in the black community that we work, no matter what. It’s
totally culturally and historically based. As more black mothers
and black families, however, break out of that narrow mold of thinking
you get a rise in black at-home mothers like you see today. Most
often, for black mothers, the decision to stay at home is met with
great resistance, both overt and subtle.
do you think the new mothers movement can respond effectively
to the needs of at-home mothers of color? To the needs of all
mothers of color?
think that in this fast-paced, visual culture of ours it is imperative
for mothers organizations that are intimately involved in the mothers
movement to really embrace diversity and that can be something
as simple as having mothers of all shades represented on printed
materials and on websites. Black mothers regularly seek out mothering
information online and elsewhere, but if they don’t see moms
who look like them, they move on. I know that’s generally
what I do because I don’t want to feel like the only one,
or like a token or like my voice really won’t be heard.
groups and organizations must have a diverse leadership on every
level because every demographic of mothers must be approached in
varying ways. Mothers of color who are leaders in the movement
can then help bring in other mothers of color and thus an all-inclusive
mother’s movement ensues.
mmo : april 2003