So often these days, particularly as a young, Black woman living in America, I question whether motherhood is a road I would like to travel. With the extrapolation and proliferation of Black people, both young and old, dying at the hands of cops who clearly don’t care about their well-being or even their humanity, do I want to willingly and knowingly subject an innocent child to that? Do I want to subject myself to the constant fear of having a child murdered by a neighborhood watchman for doing nothing more than walking down the street with some skittles and a Gatorade? Do I want to have to teach a Black baby looking to me for strength, guidance and a sense of peace how to conduct themselves in the event they ever get stopped by the cops? Teaching them to lessen themselves so they can make it safely back to me, alive and in one piece, with no holes in their back from bullets fired by an adult white man who can later claim he felt “threatened?”
Speaking of threatened! Threatened by what exactly? Black joy? Black life? Black existence? The resilience of a people this country has tried so hard to quell the very life of and snuff out while we, as the great Maya Angelou once said, still rise? Perhaps it’s the audacity we have at living at all. Or maybe it’s that we strive to see the better, the humorous, the grace we’re shown in life, even as it gets hard and continuously tells us we do not matter, a lie we know to be false.
The stress of seeing people who look like me murdered in cold blood in the streets, not to, mention the marginalized intersectional communities, such as those who are gay or trans or queer or lesbian or all of the above or non-binary or anything in between is already very nearly too much to bear. And these aren’t even people I’m related to. But caring so much for humanity, especially those who look like me and are told they’re worth less, makes each one feel intensely personal. The pain experienced when I see a trending hashtag demanding “justice for” with a name I do not yet know but soon will.
Not to mention the mortality rate of Black mothers and the superwoman complex we struggle to set aside when pregnant and dealing with the medical profession who still somehow believe we can tolerate more pain than “the typical” (read: white) woman can. The fight just to be heard and have your medical concerns heard and taken seriously BEFORE things take a turn for the injurious, or worse yet, morbid, is just one more thing to consider when thinking about becoming a Black mother to Black children.
Why bring children into such an unforgiving world?
Then I am reminded of the smile of a toddler, the happy gurgle of a healthy, chocolatey brown baby, the undefeated hugs that come only from children under the age of 5. Is that in and if itself an act of resistance? To continue, to persevere, to push more and multiply in a world that was not set up to see us succeed. Taking the ability to prosper and using it, taking the ability to be happy, to have and share moments of joy for myself and ourselves between and around the depths of sadness. To learn the lessons life provides despite a seemingly never ending stream of depressing, sometimes debilitating news. I see my friends and their children, how their smiles at each other beam and how they know, despite the stress and sleepless nights they may cause their parents, those children are loved and would not be traded for the world. Is taking up the mantle of motherhood, as a Black woman in particular, an act of protest? This question is broached in the Hulu miniseries, “Love in the Time of Corona.” Sade (a name I have considered naming my daughter, if I decide to have one) and James, two married, Black characters consider the ups and downs to raising a Black child in today’s America. While it does not always far enough removed from 1950s and 60s America, there are still improvements we’ve attained and goals we’ve achieved. There is still joy to be had. There is still pride to be found in raising up a child, seeing them succeed, be it where you failed or where you never even considered? To see them enjoying life would be and should be a blessing in and of itself.
Is Black motherhood for me? I’m still undecided. What I do know, is that to be Black and a parent in today’s world, is nothing short of revolutionary.