Thursday, November 4, 2010

Categorizing, Universalizing and Labeling Continued

A month before becoming invested in the latest babbling bus load of bullshit, I was emotionally invested in trying to figure out why the fuck the folks behind the No Wedding No Womb campaign, and their followers, were so invested in “putting the padlock on our panties.” Why was it so hard for any of them to admit that the language heading their campaign was flawed and disrespectful? Why was it so hard for any of them to recognize why single mothers by circumstance and by choice were so upset and turned off by the launch of their attack? Why was it so hard for married supporters of the campaign to realize that not all married mothers were supporters of the campaign? Hello. And finally, why and HOW did the launching of this campaign get some single mothers to drink the Kool Aid and start viewing themselves as bad mothers for having a failed marriage, or choosing to become single mothers, or never seeking marriage to begin with, or being o-damn-k with the term “baby mama” because they have realized that it is actually a term that is free to be appropriated?

I am still fuzzy on why the campaign took up the term “baby mama” in the first place as a way to address single parenthood as a whole and/or unplanned pregnancy. I am fuzzy on how and why a campaign would take up entertainment (ie Maury Povich) as the driving reasoning behind the campaign and just why the hell these folks feel the need to “save the children of single mothers from single mothers." And if we really want to break the term “baby mama” down, and see the words for what they literally mean, then that would make every woman who has ever mothered a baby’s mother. My name is Barbara Henry, and as my sister Traci stated in her beautiful letter to her son, “I” am Emma’s mother and there is NOTHING about the state of my mothering that is wrong or should be undone or rethought. If I had it to do over again, I’d do it the same way. She continues to grow into an amazing person because of the start in life that "I" have given her, the unique dynamic that has shaped our lives. Emma was conceived in love and is being raised in love. Point. Blank. Period.

I was in complete shock when I went over to Moms of Hue to find the site in full support of the campaign against single motherhood. And yes, the campaign is a full on attack. I was thinking, “how could the site be in full support when there are members of the team who are not in support of the campaign at all?” It was hurtful to read what some of the people that I had been comfortable sharing my life and lifestyle with really thought about women who have had kids out of wedlock. When it comes to Moms of Hue, why wasn’t the team notified of this kind of considered endorsement? We'd always been notified of everything else. Why weren’t team members who were clearly offended contacted by leadership? And where in the fuck is my apology? For these reasons, and insensitive commentary from the site’s founder, I had to end my relationship with the “movement”, and I am publicly apologizing to all of my single mama friends that I even sent over there. Why stay on after it was made crystal clear that my status was not valued. If my status was not valued, why the fuck would my experiences be? Uh huh… BABBLING BUS LOAD OF BULLSHIT.


  1. BRAVO, Sis! Perfectly stated...

    That term gets under my skin, immensely because it makes US into derelicts of society that have no morals and values. "Baby" "Mama". I am my son's mother and that is a title that I do place value upon. Like you, I have raised a beautiful young man - ON MY OWN, and he continues to flourish under my watchful, and very loving eye. Being married would not have made me treat him any different. Would I love to have given him someone in his life that looked at him with the love that I do? Yes, absolutely. Would I have loved to have someone in the delivery room with me that was in anticipation of his arrival as much as I was? Absolutely? Things didn't go that way, however. Now, had I taken the road that these people discuss so freely, in their movement, and made this man my husband just for the sake of saying that "I'm married", what message does that send exactly, when he proved himself to not be worthy of a place in my son's life? Many of these women are living the life of a single parent - within their own marriage - just to say they are married "for the kids". Please! Who are you really hurting.

    Does being married to the fathers of our children make us better than the woman that had her child with the man that she loved, but not living with the stigma of being married? I don't think so.

    Marriage can be a beautiful thing. I am not talking it down, but it is NOT for everyone. Just as it is NOT for everyone to attack those that have their children, independently. (whatever their unique circumstance).

    My son talks to me about everything. My son calls to check on me when he spends the night out with family. My son calls to check on me when I'm at work to see how my day is going. My son comes in my room before he goes to bed to kiss me on the cheek and tell me goodnight. My son cooks, he cleans, he is a straight A student, who is at the advanced stages of all his core curriculum. I did that!

    How many of the women in the movement, can boast this treatment with their own kids? Or are they too busy thinking that just because they are married w/child(ren), they have done their parts for their kids?

  2. Barbara, your post is both enlightening and very misleading.

    You claim that my support of the movement is a statement about how I feel about you and your choices. Were that the case I would not have been supportive of you in any way shape or form. I have supported your crochet business and have been more than understanding on various occasions. Traci even knows that I was trying to start a fundraiser to help you financially when you were graduating college and facing hard times as I believe that EVERY person deserves a chance to do great things. My goal has ALWAYS been to support women doing positive things regardless of their personal choices.

    As I stated in my article on Moms of Hue, my concern was that we raise young children to understand that having babies should not be entered into lightly and without equal support on both sides. When I made the decision to support No Wedding No Womb I did so an individual- and yes I made the decision to promote it on Moms of Hue because while there are some who may not agree with it , there are others who do- both married and single. It is very much the reason I asked Christelyn to include the disclaimer on my article, and very much why when I commented on the posts on the MOH Fan Page I did so as myself and not as Moms of Hue. I have never censored your writing on the site and never once I have told people who did not agree with NWNW that they could not write. In fact, I invited Tameka who was not in support of the conversation to write an article in response to mine. You know that you have had the freedom to do just that and your decision not to respond was yours and yours alone.

    And let’s face it, your relationship with Moms of Hue ended months before No Wedding No Womb when you chose to repeatedly miss your writing days without an email in explanation despite my repeated reminders to the team of writers to do just that.

    I do thank you for your past support, but this kind of attack is unwarranted.

  3. Kristina,

    Speaking for myself, only, I can say that Babygirlz would NOT have seen the light of day had you not stepped in - for FREE to do the initial site. I would still be looking all over the place and encountering disappointment after disappointment. This I KNOW to be fact. and I will be forever thankful for your believing in my vision enough to want to be there the whole way through. That's from the heart and is why I previously, offered myself up in whatever way I could, to help move MOH forward.

    I will admit to being taken aback when I first read the NWNW article, but then to see your endorsement of it. It was hurtful.

    Just a little history: When I got pregnant with my son, my mother went to work beaming with pride sharing with the world that she was about to have a grandchild. Most were as excited as she was, but one woman said "Oh, I didn't know Traci was married". Because I'm her child and her natural instinct is to protect, she hit the roof and had an exchange of words with the woman. But...I believe that she was embarrassed herself by the fact that she tried to hook me up with some guy from her job shortly after and I had to explain to her that I as not interested. I'd shamed my mother. Not a good feeling. Though I've never confronted her with my feelings, and am long past it, it still effected me.

    So, to encounter a site/blog/movement that is speaking out against my situation and so many others, is a slap in the face. My issue was that it doesn't ever appear that people understand that with EVERY situation in life, there are historical aspects to it - yet those are never visited. They just run off at the mouth about it. To go on the attack and with a one-sided view, is just not something that I can take part in - especially, when I am on the butt end of it.

    There are so many varying and unique situations as to how women become single parents to their children, it's not even funny. And for them to reduce it so-called simplest terms, as a "ring" is ignorant to me. I can respect people having their own views, to the point that healthy dialog comes from it, but to attack on something as serious as this is just plain WRONG. All I could think about was if my son saw any of these writings RIGHT NOW and how he would feel about his mother and more importantly, how he would feel about himself.

  4. Right. Bus load of babbling bullshit, as stated above. Kristina, there is nothing misleading about the way that "I" feel toward the "movement" that was endorsed via your site, and there is nothing misleading about the way that "I" feel about your leadership. To be clear. Aren't you glad I chose to respond within my own space? Because THIS is my response by then and obviously now. And uh, I'm not alone.

    Please do NOT come here bullet pointing the ways in which you've "helped" me, and the ways in which you planned to "place me back on my feet". I'm honestly not in the mood. Your support of Baby Squares, in the form of an order (that was not paid on time might I add, you know, since we're pointing out the fine print within relationships) was very much appreciated. Just as all supporters of Baby Squares are well appreciated. Do I have an issue with folks speaking on their beliefs? Of course not. However, I do have an issue when certain decisions are made individually, especially when they affect the team. It was pointed out to me that you were not in favor of folks posting about religion as to not make others feel uncomfortable, so why not at least send out an email to allow your team to be a part of the decision making process?? As you stated above, you like to send out emails in abundance so this wouldn't have been too much for you to do!

    And about my relationship with MOH as far as scheduled posts are concerned. I sent my last email to you, to which you did not respond. Once the email is sent, it is no longer my problem. You didn't have any problems posting over my posts, on my scheduled post days anyway, so...

    I do hope that you reevaluate the way that you interact with your team, and apply new methods to your We of Hue network. Good day!

  5. What bothers me about all of this is not that you were upset. I understand that and I would have been more than happy to address those concerns if they were brought to my attention which could have been done the first time I posted about NWNW back on September 15. You did not. To this day neither of you talked to me about it at all.

    I had very specific reasons for supporting NWNW none of which were because I think poorly about single parents. My article in fact never attacked single parents but asked questions about what we can do to make sure that our children choose something more for themselves than having babies before they are ready. Single mothers and Baby Mama for me are not synonymous.

    But that is neither here nor there. The personal attack of me in a public forum is what I believe was unwarranted. Like I said, both of you have my email address and Traci, you have my number. You still have not contacted me directly as I would have done if I had a problem with some one who was leading a team to which I was connected.

    As far as the decision to support NWNW- the writers were not consulted because I did not feel like my support a something in which the initial goal was opening a conversation needed a vote. I did however open up the floor to discussion on numerous occasions and again the decision to participate or not was yours.

    How I interact with my team is not the issue Barbara. I have constantly asked for feedback and suggestions and those who have engaged in the conversation are heard and their thoughts are incorporated as appropriate.

    So once again, my issue is not with your feelings. My issue is that you had a problem with something I did and did not forward those concerns to me. If you had come to me with your concerns, I would have listened and considered. I have never been a dictator when it comes to Moms of Hue.

  6. Kristina,

    I called you. You never returned the call. Remember? The day you were on your way out to dinner with your family? It's been some time, but I did call.

  7. @Kristina Brooke: This is in no way an attack but honestly, a blog is not the place to post personal and confidential information about the blogger. I think you may have took the post the wrong way and by commenting in the manner in which you did, it just doesn't look good.

    Barabara stated her opinion of the "campaign" and the fact that she did not support that "Moms of Hue" was in support of the campaign. Hell, I say stuff about Essence and I don't like how they portray naturals, or etc. But I will not go onto their website and make personal attacks about the editor and expose personal business that went down between a few persons. There is a thing called tact and I honestly do not see any tact in the above comment or "comeback".

    On the campaign itself: I'm not a mother but I was offended a bit by the campaign as well. Everyone has a story and we would all be headed to hell in gasoline panties if we all said we have never laid down with a man THAT WE GENUINELY LOVED and never had at least one pregnancy scare. I'm sure 90 percent of us would be lying if we said we were celibate and waiting for our husbands before we decided to become intimate with them. You don't know ANYone's story and for the entire campaign to shun on women that have their own unique stories as to why they are now single parents or didn't get the ring before the baby is fucking insane (excuse me). The term "baby daddy" and "baby momma" is an insulting term and I know first hand that single mothers and fathers are so much more than that.

    To all the single mothers out there, if no one else loves you, I love you! Because honestly, I'm not sure I could do it but I know I would if I didn't have a choice. You are all strong women and despite what anyone else thinks or tells you, you were made and molded for a purpose.

  8. @ Kiianah...I sincerely appreciate/respect your stance and everything you had to say. I too hate the BD/BM term and think that it should be done away with. We actually have people out here wearing it like it's a badge of honor or something. Insane.

  9. @Traci Anytime, I feel compelled to speak up about issues that I'm sensitive about or that rub me the wrong way. And who made up that term anyway? It makes me cringe.

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  11. I had to read this several because I was really confused. I didn't quite understand why you are so angry. I'm so sorry to hear that you won't be writing for Moms of Hue. i was introduced to that site by your blog and I was always looked forward to your articles.\

    I don't know the owner of Moms of Hue but I really enjoy what that site does for our community. It makes me sad that this situation couldn't have ended differently. Maybe a conversation or an email to try to fix things before it came to this. Even if you had to part ways with Moms of Hue I wish it could have been in a more friendly way. It just seem in our community we are always on the attack and there just isn't enough love. I'm probably living a fantasy in believing we can have more peace among ourselves.

    I guess I took the no wedding no womb thing differently. Like JC said I didn't see it as an attack on single mothers. I'm a single mother buy choice and I wouldn't do it differently if I had to do it again. But I do think that providing a child with both a mother and father is important when it can happen that way.

    I won't rush to get married just to give my child a father. But if I meet the right man I expect that he'll accept BOTH me and my child & step up as a father figure. We are a packaged deal. No wedding no womb seemed to say to me that when child are involved we need to make careful choices for their benefit.

    You are a wonderful mother. No one should ever make you feel otherwise. I love your blog and keep your head up. No wedding no womb has a good message. But I think there were some of the supporters that acted badly & that made the whole movement look bad.

  12. I promised I would no longer speak about [insert 4 letter anagram] and its aftermath having been verbally attacked and baited at least once following its launch. What I knew to be true of it, and other such "movements" that win followers by divisive, hierarchical tactics founded on sexualized/racialized tropes was that it would end badly, as it has. Sometimes things have to be simplified, it's one of the many things I've learned as a homeschooling parent-very few people rise early everyday and commit themselves to something/someone with the intent of doing poorly-yet some of us for whatever reasons will not do as well as we expected/is expected. It's the way of the world. Not all relationships begin and end at the altar, hell, some people-like my progressive, feminist, mother CHOSE not to marry. Yet, I believe all of these people can come together and agree that they want what is best for their children in a forum/setting that is all-inclusive and respectful.[Insert 4 letter anagram] failed to provide a propitious forum for all mothers/caretakers/lovers of children to do that. The idea was there, the theme song was catchy (I'm a liar, I never listened...but I read it was catchy), I'll even go out on a limb and say that Christelyn-whom I have questionable opinions of- meant well...initially. But, she took on (per her statistical data) 70% of varying degrees of grey, breathing, loving, growing FAMILIES and reduced them to a monolith-a static entity in which to stand "tall" among other misguided sheeple and proclaim their choice as the BEST and ONLY choice. Fail.To that end, many of the "movement's followers" could be heard and read across the uni/blogosphere giving very different opinions and statements as to the roots and ultimate goal of the movement. "Where are we going?" "Hush, I'll tell you when we get there."

    In short, I'm really sorry that this has turned out as it has between 2 strong, well-respected women, and devoted mothers...but, I knew this shit was gon' happen.

    I'm tempted to start a movement against movements and serve imported beer at the rallies-in my livingroom of course, you know I don't stray far from the kids and cats!

    Be well, Barbara-it'll all be okay.

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  14. @ Tameka, Barbara, and Traci, I think we will have agree to disagree. This isn't a failed movement. It is a conversation that had to be had, and every voice had (has) to be heard. That fact that we are still talking about it makes it a viable movement. If it had failed it would have gone ignored. I agree that some of the voices were disrespectful and off-base on both sides. This issue is one that has largely developed from our pain, not entirely. However, the problem is mostly born out of our inability to love effectively. I know every situation is not the same, but the ones that nurture child in a way that makes them violent, fearful, distrustful, and unsuccessful are born out of lack of love.

    I am truly sorry if this has caused women and men who have already created children in a situation where both parents are not actively loving, co-parenting, and contributing to the child's success, to feel lees than adequate. Nobody likes to feel as though their best isn't good enough. Your good can be good enough, but just know without the support of the person that you chose to have your child with it will be hard. However, it can be done. I am a living witness of unmarried parents working together to raise a successful adult. However, I am also of a living witness of all the bull that goes along with being a child of an unmarried union.

    I don't suggest anyone join in marriage for the child. I do suggest we grab our own happiness before making children and that we choose a person who has grabbed their own happiness. If we do that we have a better chance of raising a child in a balanced and positive environment. If we haven't done that, there is always today to begin.

    Calling Kristina out in such a nasty way because she took a stance on her site, shows that you may be still working on grabbing your happiness. At least in that moment. I know you are a great mother, why you feel offended because others feel two married parents is an optimal situation for parenting, only you can explore. I encourage you to do that. We all love you and support you Barbara.

  15. To be clear, ..."Yet, I believe all of these people can come together and agree that they want what is best for their children in a forum/setting that is all-inclusive and respectful.[Insert 4 letter anagram] failed to provide a propitious forum for all mothers/caretakers/lovers of children to do that. The idea was there, the theme song was catchy (I'm a liar, I never listened...but I read it was catchy), I'll even go out on a limb and say that Christelyn-whom I have questionable opinions of- meant well...initially. But, she took on (per her statistical data) 70% of varying degrees of grey, breathing, loving, growing FAMILIES and reduced them to a monolith-a static entity in which to stand "tall" among other misguided sheeple and proclaim their choice as the BEST and ONLY choice. Fail."

    The fail is in the WAY the movement was structured. Coming into it those mothers who are/were single were being singled out in a derogatory way. I used this example before...If my front door hosted a sign which read, "No [insert group ]People" and later went on to say that waitig inside those demarcating/potentially insulting barriers were loving arms welcoming ALL who enter-how many people would I have potentially turned away? Had the folks just taken the advice of many supporters and those on the fence and presented their "movement" as a call for unity around people who love children for children and not a "call-out" of people who bore children in situations they deemed lesser than, we would not be here.

    I can agree to disagree on the necessity of the movement, but to stand behind it and willfully ignore that it has created yet another chasm in the black female community (if you wanna call it that) is incredulous to me.

    Meh, people are still talking about Lindsay Lohan too...this is exactly why I stopped talking about [insert 4 letter acronym-see, I said anagram before-I need to leave this bollocks alone].

  16. So, I've been busy working since the shit evidently hit the fan. Excuse me while I grab a note pad...

  17. Nope. I see no reason for apology on either side. Barbara, point blank YOU ROCK! I'm not married and I don't have children. The "movement"or whateves you wanna call it was pure ridic in my opinion. But that's a whole 'nother comment for another time.

    But again I still don't think anyone has reason for I-beg-you-to-forgive. This is because sistah girl whomever you brought over to Moms of Hue I'm sure can decipher for themselves whether to continue to follow that site. I will. Not for the leader but for other writers I enjoy. Intelligent conversation is hard to find among black sites and Moms of Hue gives it.

    The owner of Moms of Hue really didn't have to get agreement from any writers to support a cause. It's her site she can do as she please. You did the right thing by leaving. If you can't support it then it's time to go. I'm waiting for you to create a site. When's that coming??

  18. Sexy, thanks for stopping by. If the site works for you that's great. There are people that I love there and clearly there are people that you love there, so you should continue to read their work.

    When I speak of supporting a cause, I'm not speaking of supporting a cause via blog post. That was the point of MOH anyway, for folks to state their opinions and experiences, however, posting a badge/button of support is a whole different ballgame, especially when that badge of support is offensive to some. To make it appear as though the team as a whole is in support when they are not is not ok. Ain't no "I" in team, and when you have a team, when you are leading a team, you should want to make sure that everyone is on the same page. That's my stance.

    To answer your question, you wont be seeing any sites from me except this one, whose purpose isn't to please anyone but me =).

  19. Super weird. I could have sworn that Ana Gazawi stated her piece, yet its not here, hmmmm... shame. I wanted to address the big shit you were talking.

  20. Wow... wow... wow. Barbara, I love reading your MOH posts and I am so sorry to see things go down like this. When I saw Kristina's post about the No Wedding No Womb movement - while I was admittedly ambiguous and sort of wary about the whole thing - I thought it was her opinion specifically speaking to young girls who don't think enough of themselves to ask for a commitment - not grown women who make the decision to single parent independently. Either way - one of the things I love about MOH is that it offers an opportunity to engage in productive dialogue about topics just like these. I remember when Ana wrote that article "Dying to have children" about the horror of c-sections a few months before I was going to have my elective c-section I was piisssseeedd. But - although we didn't ultimately agree - it felt good to flesh out the issues on both sides. I only wish that you and Kristina could have had the same productive dialogue about this topic because I am sure tons of women were waiting to pipe in. Can’t ya’ll just hug it out? lol You will be missed over at the Hue but I am glad to you will still be here!