Becoming Mama Is Taking Action to Stand With the Black Community
A note from Valerie, Becoming Mama Founder
Becoming Mama has been silent for quite some time.
The news of the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and the racial inequalities and injustices in our world are devastating. I cannot fathom the stress and trauma this has created for the Black community.
I find myself heartbroken, angry, and awakened to the fact that, like many, I must do better. Becoming Mama stands in support of the Black community. Through this time, I’ve paused to listen and learn how I can be a better ally. To consider how Becoming Mama or this channel can help be a part of the solution.
I’m still processing, but I now recognize that being “not racist” is insufficient. I must, and Becoming Mama must, become adamantly anti-racist. This is a continual journey that resets every day.
Below are some of the ways I’m committing to educating myself and using this platform for good. This list is only the beginning. I’ll continue to challenge and educate myself. Your feedback and questions are welcome and encouraged.
- We will diversify our philanthropic efforts in order to help reduce the racial disparities black mothers experience via organizations like the Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association.
- Our photoshoots will continue to feature black mothers. We will hire stylists who are trained to work with black skin tones and hair textures.
- Future focus groups for new designs will include black mothers and people of color. We will be more intentional about selecting fabrics and prints that compliment various skin tones.
- Becoming Mama will only partner with brands who stand with the Black community and demonstrate action and commitment to inclusivity. We will prioritize partnering not just with woman-owned businesses, but black woman-owned businesses.
- 50% of my personal leisure reading time will be devoted to anti-racism resources and literature written by black authors, as the content I digest becomes a part of the way I think, operate, and run this business.
- We’ll curate and share resources to amplify Black voices and enable parents on their anti-bias and anti-racism journey.
And with that last note — there is truly no time like the present. We are nurturing the next generation and have a responsibility to raise kind, brave, and intentional humans.
Below you’ll find some of the resources I’ve learned from over the past several weeks, and recommend to other parents looking to influence change within their homes and communities.
One of the most influential resources I’ve been grateful to grow from is a digital event with Britt Hawthorne, a nationally recognized equity trainer. Her Anti-Bias Education at Home session is part of a Unity Hour series hosted by The Mom Project, a talent network committed to helping mothers find supportive workplaces and rewarding careers.
I encourage you to watch a recording of her 1-hour session for yourself and support Britt’s work by visiting her website directly.
Intentionally create anti-bias and anti-racist homes
We have an opportunity and responsibility to teach our children to love themselves, embrace diversity, and advocate for themselves, their friends, and for change in our systems.
Britt emphasized, “Do the work with your child, not for your child.” Visit her website for recommended reading to create a productive and safe space in your home.
You may find this list of The Essential Movies and Series on Netflix That Examine Systemic Racism in America useful as well — the second recommendation on that list, 13th, was incredibly informative for me.
Finally, here are some accounts I follow on social to continue educating myself:
- Black Education Matters
- Check Your Privilege
- Danielle Coke
- Myisha T. Hill
- Rachel Elizabeth Cargle
- Talking to Your Kids About Race via @hellomytribe
Click to visit Hello My Tribe's social post on Instagram.
Share inclusive stories and media
One of the many things I love about Britt Hawthorne’s session was the gift of language she enabled me with. For example, she introduced me to the concept (also shared by Rudine Sims Bishop, Professor at Ohio State University) that books have an opportunity to give children a “mirror,” “window,” or a “sliding door.”
As an interfaith family, my partner and I prioritize selecting children’s books that show both muslim and christian families. This is an example of a mirror in which my son can see the Morrocan elements of his identity with boys wearing a djellaba and girls wearing hijabs.
But a window is a book that gives him a view into another world. What portion of your children’s books are windows? Professor Sims Bishop shares, “Diversity [in books] isn’t just for children who have been underrepresented and marginalized… It’s also for children who always find their mirrors in the books and therefore get an exaggerated sense of their own self-worth and a false sense of what the world is like.”
We’ve become more intentional about selecting books that are windows and sliding glass doors to enter and celebrate another world.
Here are some of our new favorites featuring black protagonists and authors. I invite you to drop a comment on this post with others you recommend.
- The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
- Mommy’s Khimar Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
- We Came to America by Faith Ringgold
- The Big Bed by Bunmi Laditan
- I am Loved by Nikki Giovanni
Beyond story books, we’re also re-evaluating the TV, movies, and music in our home. I’m including a handful of shows we’ve found are more representative of the community we live in.
- Doc McStuffins
- Glitch Techs
- Motown Magic
- Omar & Hana
- Sesame Street: Lupita Nyong'o tells Elmo she loves her skin and Racism town hall
Click to watch the Anti-Racism Town Hall from Sesame Street on CNN.
Each of us has an opportunity to provide feedback to the production companies who are not featuring diverse characters and breaking down stereotypes. Or, consider embracing your FOMO and boycotting a new featured film that doesn’t spotlight a diverse cast *we’re looking at you, Toy Story!*
Select toys that encourage a celebration of diversity
When you consider the figurines and dolls in your home or with your child’s caregiver, do you feel confident that they celebrate our differences?
Whether skin color, abilities, gender identities or religious and cultural preferences, there are many lenses to consider when choosing toys intentionally. The Every Mom has assembled a list of inclusive and diverse toys. In addition to these, we also love:
- Crayola’s Colors of the World crayon set
- Harperiman dolls
- Little Likes Kids inclusive puzzles
- Pretty Please Teethers
From the micro level of influencing our families to the macro level of driving change in our communities, each of us has a role to play in creating a more inclusive world. We are on this journey together, and look forward to growing with you.