There is no force equal to a woman determined to rise”
-W.E.B Du Bois
How are you, sis? How are those beautiful babies?
I know you are probably thinking the title doesn’t necessarily roll off the tongue. You may also be wondering why the title is so specific? -Well, I want to be very clear and deliberate about the motivations of this letter.
I am a young, black, unwed, mother.
This letter is a form of personal catharsis, a sounding board, an acknowledgement, and an outlet to represent and inspire.We are somehow constantly stigmatized and undeservingly ridiculed.
Not in this letter.
Not on my watch.
To The Younger Mother,
I recently ran into a child acquaintance a couple years younger than myself. She told me that she was also a mother and told me that she really admired me. Now, I’m only 23-years-old. Needless to say, her words caught me by surprise. Initially, I wasn’t
comfortable with embracing the role of someone to be admired because I am still young and haven’t accomplished a fraction of my goals. However, as I thought about all of my accomplishments as a young mother, I was able to accept that role easily.
I don’t have all the answers, but if I can help guide young mothers by my actions and my words, I will do just that. If you are struggling and feeling hopeless, just know you are not an isle and we have all been there. When I had my daughter, I was a 19-year-old Sophomore in college. There were some really rough days and I had to focus on keeping myself encouraged. Nonetheless, I went right back to school. I got a work study, an internship, worked part-time during school and full-time throughout summer. I made it work. It’s simple as that!
Hell, I’m still making it work today. I am currently the Program Coordinator of Non-Profit
and Consultant for HBO, Hulu, and Warner Bros. I fulfill my duties as a coordinator in addition to being a full-time student. Meanwhile, my daughter is happy and healthy! I love going to work. I have a peace of mind. Things are working out for me, but it is important for you to understand it did not come easy.
I struggled, but I remained diligent in fulfilling my purpose. If I made it work, then so can you. In fact, you will make it work. Trust me. Rebuke anyone who tries to place limitations on you; they don’t know shit! Work smart. Take care of those babies. take care of yourself and be honest in the way you move. You will notice how things will begin to fall into place. You got this.
To The Mother Like Me,
Yes, mama! –You 20 something, hardworking, exhausted, SZA-listening lady, I am addressing you. I have something I want to ask you and by no means am I trying to be divisive. I have to clarify that this question is presented as a result of a simple observation that I’ve made.
Have you ever noticed that non-black, unwed mothers in the workforce do not have to put forth as much effort to avoid stereotypical views; meanwhile, black women, facing the same circumstances have to fight for fair treatment and being granted additional work, in addition to overcoming the stereotypical labeling that we so commonly face the minute they work a 39 hour week?
We are called trifling, government-dependent, charity cases if we are unemployed, but we’re negligent if we want to work more, right?
So, what do we do? -We try to coexist in both worlds as to keep tranquility in a space regulated by individuals who don’t
even want to see us win. Isn’t that something? A paradox if I have ever seen one. Although people scrutinize us like they get paid to do it, we must stay level-headed for our children and for our sanity. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes have found it hard to balance motherhood with my other roles. It seemed like when I was killing it at work, I was missing things at home and vice versa. Now, if I know I will have a heavy workload that will consume me, I plan a day before or after that’s strictly for my daughter and I to spend time together. For me, it’s extremely important that my daughter understands that Mommy has to work but never feels neglected.
To The Mother Who Goes Out A Few Times A Week,
The one who likes to let her hair down after the kids are down, to the one working long hours, the one trying to finish school, the one who works from home, I am proud to be in your company; you are phenomenal. Keep loving on your babies; live your life! Stand your ground.
You have got this!
To The Mother Who Raised Me,
The things that I love the most about myself are solely reflections of you. I don’t think you understand just how much your ways and wisdom have impacted me. I remember you picking me up from school in the boldest, most Afrocentric outfits. From your colorful head wraps to your gaudy jewelry, you would get looks and snickers from various onlookers, but you never cared not one bit! You were and still are such a boss.
I asked for a pair of shoes once “that everyone else had” and you went off on a tangent, your reaction made me liken wanting to be like others with something terrible. Just from that encounter, you taught me how important self-assurance and individuality was. You stressed the importance of education unmercifully. I can remember watching tv too much during one summer. So, you made me read a book for every show I watched. You bought me a notebook that I had to use to write a passage about every show and each book and it was then that I realized I wanted to write and work in film.
You taught me to always be confident in my abilities but never to become too comfortable in any position. You have always kept me grounded and when I had a baby at 19, just as you did, you didn’t judge me. However, you also didn’t coddle me. You helped me help myself and I credit my independence to you.
Of all my accomplishments and accolades, I am most proud of the mother I am, and that’s all because of the mother you have been to me.
To Those Who Do Not Fall Under This Category,
First and foremost, thank you for reading.
It takes a special kind of person to inquire about something that doesn’t directly apply to them, especially in today’s society. Understand that I have nothing against marriage, so please don’t mistake this letter for a bitter rant. This is a love letter to women like me, a declaration, if you will. I am not an atrabilious woman by any means, I simply am someone refusing to tolerate language, attitudes, and actions that attempt to demean women like me and dismantles our version of motherhood. We are not your stereotype. We are no less because we are young. We are no less because of our brown skin. We are no less because we don’t have a band around our finger.
We are women.
We are mothers.
Women before us birthed and nurtured the world.
We got this.
We always did.
A Young, Black, Unwed Mother