I never had dreams of an ideal motherhood, what it would amount to or what kind of mother I’d be. When I got pregnant with River I felt this distinct straight witchy hell-bent level to protect her. I was a mad woman. And though that part of me dissipated a bit within the waves of life, and within the aches of first days of pre-k, scraped knees, and 30 seconds of frozen in time fear losing one or both in a crowded playground, that woman still can be as ferocious as she was 7 years ago around this time. Now, more than ever.
The unknown of raising two little ones with a wealth of sorrows and joys of my very own can be difficult. The difficulty does not lie in River and Oak (they are surprisingly easy going, and have always been that way) it is because raising compassionate, aware, and healthy kids is very good and very hard work. Choosing to do this in my 20s has stretched me beyond what I could have imagined in a very short period of time. Growth is amplified. And with this growth, I have had to identify the realties of raising them in the kind of world we live in today.
I realized those realities the day I had River, when it was assumed (because of the color of my skin) that I wouldn’t want to try and breastfeed. And again and again when it was assumed I was the nanny, told how to parent in the street, stared at persistently or told how surprising it was that I was in fact a good mother by an older white woman. As if to say “I am surprised you are here with your kids.” “Who’s paying your bills?” or ” How are you young, black, and attentive?” I have seen it and have quietly navigated it all. For these are my stories as their mother, and there are so many other stories that live within the walls of my body as simply LaTonya; a daughter, a sister and a friend to many people of color.
With Charlottesville and the general state of the world my body is stocked with fight and joy. Anger and courage. While my goal is to always foster this magical childhood my kids more than deserve, the truth of the matter is as a black mother raising biracial children that we identify as black children (they may choose to identify as they wish when they want), the state of the world seems more calculated than ever in my motherhood heart. It has risen that lady who once rode the L train 7 years ago with a body-builder type of stance and heart ready to throw-down for her unborn.
At the same time, the more I grow along with my kids, and as the veil that once shielded white people from racism and bigotry seems to be lifted, I have been doing my best to redirect my own tools to where they belong. I said it in my Instagram stories, but right now, they don’t belong in educating a white follower or reader on what they need be doing as a white person. As much as I want to lay it all out and create a guide on how not to raise racist children, or how to see color, or how to unlearn your own racism and identify racists ideology you have yet to acknowledge, my tools belong in existence. My tools belong in JOY. That is where I, as a black woman with two children in 2017 belong. My tools belongs in our safety. My tools belong in exactly what white supremacist don’t want us to have as people of color–joy.
That doesn’t mean my activism doesn’t exist (it actually exists every single day I wake up and write here, and give River and Oak a beautiful life as two kids of color), it means I am stepping aside and also giving white bloggers space to unlearn and be active in this realm. This is not politics, this is humanity. And for me, this is self-care. So I will be here, writing and working, living and growing, fighting and most of all, focusing on beautiful beautiful self-care, courage, peace and joy.
– Dick Gregory
Civil Rights Activist and Comedian
October 12th 1932- August 19th 2017
Thank you for reading and being a big part of this space.
If you’re looking for a white blogger that I feel is speaking, quieting, learning, unlearning and teaching, Erin is an amazing source. You can always follow my sister and the lady who threw me into several levels of activism, Sarah Sophie Flicker.
(Photos by Maia Harms for LaTonya Yvette)