Echoing Ida on Mamahood

Friday, May 16, 2014

In celebration of Mamas Day, the Echoing Ida writers honored their mamas and communities through powerful stories and truth telling. They wrote five articles highlighting the movement working to change society's narrative about mothers, motherhood, and our communities.

Just before Mamas Day, highlighted Strong Families and Echoing Ida in a great piece, 'Mamas Day' Celebrates Motherhood Outside the Boxes, showcasing the Mamas Day campaign and stories about why it is so needed. The piece featured Echoing Ida writer Gloria Malone, SPARK RJ youth leader Quita Tinsley, and Forward Together Movement Building Director Alicia Walters, as each shared what the Mamas Day movement meant to them. Walters explained the Mamas Day campaign's significance and what the movement seeks to achieve.

“'Mamas Day' lifts up those mamas that you don’t see on the typical Hallmark card. Honoring the diversity of mamahood is a first step. When people acknowledge the wonderful, powerful mothering of those struggling with poverty, raising their grandchildren, or facing the challenges of immigrating, then their needs will be seen as equally important. When we recognize all mamas, we start to change the conversation about what mamas need to thrive.”
Gloria Malone echoed similar sentiments through her quotes and in her own piece, A Young Mama's Journey From Struggling Alone to Parenting in Community, on the Strong Families blog about finding community out of isolation as a teen mother. She speaks candidly about finding friends and family that were willing to support her, and how we must shift our narrative of parenting from an individualistic one to a community-based one.
"My story and my struggle are not necessarily unique. In fact, many young parents are right now struggling to complete their education, care for their children, find work and safe housing and still prove to the world that they have it all together....Parenting is an act of community because the community acts as a parent by providing space for growth, love, encouragement, and support."
The decision to become a parent can be a difficult one, including for those who choose abortion. In her piece Claiming My Mamahood After My Abortion at The Huffington Post, Renee Bracey Sherman discussed a nuanced view of 'mamahood' and highlight that the majority of people having abortions are already parenting, and those who aren't will most likely become a parent later...and they are still part of the community raising our children.
"Most people don't know that 60 percent of people who've had an abortion already have children. They are mothers. They are no different than mothers who haven't had abortions. They're dividing their time, energy, and limited financial resources to make ends meet every day...We must change the narrative around motherhood to let those who choose abortion know that they are loved, supported, and respected. Just because I'm not a mother now, doesn't mean I won't be later."
Also at The Huffington Post, Elizabeth Dawes Gay asked an important question: Do We Love Black Mothers Enough? She cites our nation's lack of investment in the social, emotional, and physical support of Black mamas as a reason for increased health disparities like high blood pressure, pre-term delivery, and other negative pregnancy outcomes. She shares simple changes that our society could make to ensure that Black mamas are healthy and loved.
"A norm such as giving up your seat to a pregnant woman on public transportation could make a difference so it's surprising that some people won't give up their seat or practice other basic kind, loving behaviors...Maybe it's the systematic stigmatization of Black motherhood that consciously and subconsciously impacts society's treatment of pregnant Black women. Not everyone thinks fondly of Black women building families on their own terms."
We know that Black motherhood has long been stigmatized and has lasting impacts on whether they receive healthcare, parenting support and resources, and how they are able to raise their children. In her beautiful piece Mother’s Day: The Resilience of Black Breast-Feeding featured at The, Bianca Campbell discusses how the seemingly normal act of breastfeeding is a radical act of love and mamahood for Black mothers. Campbell delves into the history of breastfeeding and how most of Black women's milk was denied from the mouths of Black babes, the capitalist push for formula, and how we can reclaim this beautiful and nutritious act.
"In celebration of this year’s Mamas Day—a nationwide campaign that celebrates mothers of all races, ethnicities and sexual orientations—I want to uplift and support nursing mothers and highlight ways to do so:
1. Love and dote on them! “If you don’t have the emotional support afterward, you can give up,” Middleton shares. Her mother never breast-fed, but she stayed with Middleton for two weeks after the birth of Middleton’s children to provide emotional support and to handle chores around the house so that Middleton could focus on nursing.
2. Learn how you can get involved and give mothers accessible, affordable health care this Mother’s Day. Advocate for Medicaid expansion! Currently, low-income women have the option of temporary Medicaid during pregnancy for a few months after the birth of their newborns. Expanding Medicaid eligibility helps keep parents healthy for their children."
Throughout all of these honest and beautifully written pieces, one thing is clear: Mamahood is a community effort and we must support one another!

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