Yep, we want a place at the table too! Mothering while brown…imagine that?

Sometimes you read an article that just speaks to your soul so much that you think the author snuck in your brain and stole your thoughts. That’s the case with this piece I read late last night by Kimberly Seals Allers, Ms. Allers basically summed up many of the thoughts that I have had recently when it comes to the growing motherhood dialogue in this country. Hell, my most popular post ever on this blog was when I talked about Babble’s lack of diversity, there is a huge dearth of voices when it comes to mothers of color talking motherhood and the reality is, our experiences are not valued. The thing is there is not a shortage of mothers of color talking; the problem is our voices don’t get the same play that our white counterparts get.

That truth was brought home a few nights back when I found myself engaging with several other moms of color on twitter, all highly successful women in their careers who are passionate in their mothering and who also happen to be bloggers and writers. From where I sit here on the ground I often thought many of these women were further up the writer ladder than me but they all admitted to feeling hemmed in, that our stories never get the same credit and exposure as our white counterparts. That while we don’t hold any animosity for our white counterparts, but why in 2012 is there not a Black Dooce?  A Black Pioneer Woman or hell a Black Bloggess? Sure the powers to be will put a few of us on the list of “tops” but by and large none of us are trading in our day jobs to write full time, and that for the most part if any of us were looking to turn our passion for words and mothering into a living, we’d be on steady diets of rice without the beans.

Needless to say reading Allers piece brought that point back home for me. Allers is correct in that the reason for the lack of true diverse representations in motherhood is that by and large Black motherhood is considered an anomaly. The expectations are that we are breeders and loud mouth bitches and clearly the few of us who do it well are the exception and not the rule.

The larger question for me though is how do we change the larger dialogue so that we do have a place at the table? Lately I find myself wondering that rather than begging to be squeezed in at table that doesn’t seem to want us, maybe the answer is to get our own table. Then I am reminded that resources are needed and that’s where we face a downhill battle. Even in the blogosphere, the most popular bloggers conferences are short on diversity, and while there are conferences and spaces for bloggers of color, too many times due to a lack of resources they lack the ability to reach out. Hell, I only discovered the Blogging While Black conference mere weeks before it happened and I am not the only one…yet everyone knows of BlogHer. Some years back there was a list of top Black bloggers but it fell by the wayside, maybe we need to bring it back and somehow let brands and others know we are a powerful block too.

In any event, we are more than simply Mammies, Sapphires and Jezebels are stories are equally worthy of being heard, on the big and small screens as well as in print and we are equally deserving of earning a living from the telling of those stories as our white counterparts.

6 thoughts on “Yep, we want a place at the table too! Mothering while brown…imagine that?

  1. I would love to see more exposure to the great blogs I read by women of color. My thought in terms of how to create your own table is to ask someone who has done it before. I’d reach out to the people who created the Blogging While Black conference, and other blogging niches that don’t have anything to do with being a mom or a person of color. For example, I remember watching over the last couple of years as people involved in the craft world (online) got tired of not being given much of a platform at the big blogging conferences like BlogHer. So they ended up creating their own avenues. Some didn’t fare so well (due to poor organization & drama, from what I can tell) but some have really taken off, and now craft bloggers have conferences and so on and don’t need to rely on someone else letting them in . . . and of course now the more mainstream folks are knocking on their doors.

    I think you could also start very small and low frills. Think about this – a very small conference or 2-day workshop, maybe hosted at someone’s house if they have the room or at an inexpensive hotel, or in a city w/cheap flights or centrally located to attendees. It could be as low frills as – you pay for all your own meals, there isn’t swag, this is strictly to get together, discuss/present on a few topics, and lots of brainstorming sessions.

    Or you could do something online – half day sessions if people can’t devote a full day to their Skype. I know Etsy has workshops and presentations live online. Maybe rather than planning for a specific workshop, you set up a weekly Skype/Google Hangout video chat where you discuss & create homework for everyone to work on. My guess is that all the big blogging conferences and platforms started out with lots of ground-level, informal work sessions that after months and years, turned into what we see today.

    • You could do a regular Twitter chat as well. I used to follow some of those for crafting stuff and they can get highly attended with TONS of idea sharing. All you do is decide on a hashtag and use it at a set time, usually for an hour. Advertise the hashtag and when your readers begin seeing you using it for that hour every week, they’ll begin joining the conversation. I led a discussion about philanthropy in handmade business for one of these, there was an associated blog which published posts about handmade crafts and businesses. It was very popular and developed organically – the blog came about after the hashtag creator kept being asked for a central place for people to post about their ideas, I believe.

      Why not create a collective blog, get a handful of people to write posts, and see where it goes? You can do that on blogspot.com for free and then as things grow you can switch to another platform, build up sponsors, etc.

  2. Very interesting post. Its funny that I know more African American bloggers that any other ethnic group. Of course few, if any, have reach the Dooce or Pioneer Women’s level of success. I’ve found that attending the Blogalicious conference over the past three years has helped me tremendously. It caters to the needs and desires of women of color. But I hope that our talent and business savvy will soon get the recognition it deserves.

  3. This. I was JUST thinking about this very thing. But my question is, what can we as women of color do about it? How do we get a place at the “grown up” table?
    And font feel bad about Blogging While Brown: I found out about it about a week before it happened. SMH.

  4. I have wondered if White women have a monopoly on motherhood. It’s up to beat our own drums. We have to start writing books and connecting with brands. Stop waiting on someone to save us, imho.

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