NABG Newsletter Issue 15: Mother as a Verb: A message to the Black Women who have cared

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Mother’s Day is a particularly powerful day for those who mother young Black girls. For decades, Black women have discussed mothering as more than raising your own children, but as protecting and nurturing the community. In her anthology Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines, Alexis Pauline Gumbs defines mothering as the radical act of loving by any means necessary. As Mother’s Day approaches, we want to celebrate all of those who are committed to this revolutionary act.

Artwork by Raven B. (@theglogoddess)

Affirming Black Caregivers

Being loved on and nurtured by a Black woman is a gift, and young people who are a part of A National Agenda for Black Girls know it. A few of them were willing to share their plans for celebrating those who have radically loved them:

“I’m planning on cooking with my mom and playing UNO with her because it is her favorite game to play.” — Alyssa

“Every year my sister and I cook for our mom and my sister makes crepes because it is her favorite treat.” — Sakinah

“I’m going to do whatever my mom wants me to do because it is her day.” — Anaiah

Black Mothering Saves Lives

In our last newsletter, we discussed the role of many Black women and girls as essential workers. Some of them are mothering themselves, and some have mothers who are deeply concerned about their safety on the “frontlines.” As they work to save lives and provide for their communities during the pandemic, social distancing requires them to sacrifice giving and receiving physical affection. But even when hugs, hand holding, and kisses aren’t an option, Black women and girls find new ways to express love and happiness. From non-contact meal deliveries to six-feet-apart dance offs and TikToks, we are able to witness Black women and girls reaping so much joy from mothering.

Keeping Black Families Together

Everyone should be able to spend this holiday in the company of their caregiver, and one movement that is rooted in the liberation and joy of Black mothers is the Black Mamas Bailout. This movement-building effort is coordinated by the National Bail Out Collective, and every year the collective raises funds to pay the bail of as many Black mothers and caregivers as possible so they can be home with their families in time for Mother’s Day. They also provide these mothers and caregivers with funds to support them in securing sustainable housing, buying food, and other necessary living expenses.

Using the hashtag #FreeBlackMamas, this national organization raises awareness of the social and economic costs of human incarceration, specifically for Black families. The bail system is a tool used to disenfranchise Black people during legal proceedings and remove people from community and connection. It is joyous watching young people reunite and connect with their mothers and caregivers. Support Black Mama’s Bailout and get someone home in time for Mother’s Day.

We also know that Mother’s Day can be a difficult time for many families for a variety of reasons, and especially this year, when many have experienced painful personal losses or cannot be physically with the ones they love. If this is your experience, please know that we are thinking of you, uplifting you, and sending you peace.

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Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) is an intergenerational organization committed to the physical, psychological, social, and economic development of girls and women