The black stay at home mom. Its a role that I never thought would need a blog post. Its a role I actually saw in action as a kid. However, I never imagined it was a role that could potentially feel lonely and lack inclusion.
Here I am in the heart of suburbia. My local Target is a luxury car dealership on mom steroids. There are Honda Odysseys galore (the ultimate mom van), Mercedes, Acura's, Bentleys, Beefed up SUVSs, Maseratis, Lexus, and Teslas just to name a few. We are one of the only households of color in my neighborhood and I would bet money on me being one of the youngest moms that moved in my area almost 6 years ago ( I was 28). As I nestled into our new home I became fully engulfed in the stay at home mom culture in my area. I uncovered an interesting hidden feeling that I didn't realize would exist. Lack of Inclusion.
I noticed this immediately as I would walk my daughter to school equipped with my coffee in hand, North Face jacket and black leggings...I was in full SAHM uniform okuurr! I watched moms gather at the street corner, chatting with their coffee inside their thermos and their sunglasses in place. As I anxiously approached the other moms, it was if it were a blind date. However, I was ready to greet them; exchange contact information, become good friends, meet for cocktails and brunch dates. To my surprise, as I approached them, they began to walk ahead. Yes, they passed me up and continued with their stroll to the school grounds, leaving my daughter and I behind in an effort to catch up (sounds familiar doesn’t it). Let's not even begin to talk about the playground chats at the park, extracurricular activities, etc. Most times, you are left sitting alone and not invited into the "mom section."
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my neighborhood and my neighbors, I have come to really be grateful for. However, I am reminded that we are not one in the same. You see, being a black sahm typically suggests that you are in between employment or you're a welfare recipient. Having a husband that has a salary that covers the home, well, that seemingly just can’t be the case. It’s OK. I can roll with the punches; however, it's not really OKAY. The lack of inclusion is staggering. I have been asked, "Are those your kids" or "Do you do hair" or "Do you need a waiver for registration fees" or "Are you sure you are at the right school (as I was trying to register my daughters)" oh and this one,"That's EBT right?" These are just a few comments. As you can see, the black SAHM is clearly not the norm.
Nevertheless, I hold my head high. I enter spaces because I feel I belong there. I don’t look to blend in, rather show up as my whole self, leaving not one thing about me behind. In these spaces I am typically the only African - American, or one of five in a room on an average; it's a lot to carry. I represent an underrepresented population and its kind of a big deal. So, for those who think that my life has been “whitewashed” by where I live, I stand humbly to remind you what my representation in the room means for all other black women that are looking to come over to this side of the pond. I show up! I show up even if I am not wanted. I show up because it is critical for my family. I show up because being silenced, well, you know I am not a fan of.
Moving forward, when you see a black mama, who happens to be a SAHM, don’t treat her as if she doesn't belong, she’s where she needs to be unapologetically. She loves her children, her decision to stay home is just that and she is not the nanny (yes I have experienced this).
We are not in between jobs or a welfare recipient. We are mothers.
We are not "whitewashed" with no sense of self awareness about our own culture or position in society, we are mothers.
We are to be respected and treated with the same ethos as our counterparts in the community. We demand inclusion.