I had an INCREDIBLE conversation about Black motherhood on NPR's "On Point," centered on what it means to have Beyoncé and #SerenaWilliams put their pregnancies and new mom pics on display. Our collective take (shout out to co-conspirator and passionate activist Gloria Malone): Beyoncé and Serena's celebration of motherhood humanizes Black moms and helps to tamp down stereotypes about how we make, raise and love our babies. Indeed, the discussion is the very foundation of my website, MyBrownBaby, and my new book, "MyBrownBaby: On the Joys and Challenges of Raising African American Children." Curious thing, though: the host, Tom Ashbrook, took callers and of all those who had questions and comments, the two Black men who got on the line spent all their energy saying our conversation and observations were a waste of time, irrelevant and unfounded. Of course, I let them have it because... Denene. But what on earth would possess two Black men to take time out of their busy day to pick up a phone, find the studio number, wait on hold to be picked to talk, and then spend precious time and breath saying the concerns of Black moms do not matter? That Black women do not matter? I held my own, but truly, I'm absolutely floored when Black men REFUSE to understand how the intersection of race and gender--and the stereotypes, pain, devaluation and harm that comes from it--harm us, their sisters. It immediately made me think of how we grappled with this very topic--the imbalance of Black men's support of Black women compared to how hard we go in supporting Black men--on a recent episode of A Seat At The Table (http://www.gpb.org/television/shows/a-seat-at-the-table/episode/7edfb6bb-3534-474b-acd9-7ea3e07a2123#.WXH0xWmpkN0.link) I invite you to listen and watch.
"I plan to use my reparations by running the errands I hate. On Friday evening, when each child wants a different takeout dinner, I will be in the passenger seat playing license plate games. She will drive me to the nail salon and doctor appointments and wait in the car (check emails or bring your laptop as I have done while waiting for you many times, my darling). I may even spend my reparation driving time sitting in the back seat talking about my day. Oh, the possibilities!" Kimberly Seals Allers is genius. So too, apparently, is Totally Lila, who is so up on game, she's straight dragging her feet getting that license. She ain't slick.
Yes, absolutely, we've talked about Jay and Bey incessantly. But I'm loving this perspective from Keka Araújo in her debut piece for MyBrownBaby. The jist: it's time we all stopped pointing fingers and actually TALKING to one another about what we want and what we're capable of giving—and acting accordingly. Check out Keka's perspective, today on MyBrownBaby.
I legit read this story waiting for the paragraph laying out how a group of daddies, uncles, boy cousins and the like beat the shit out of this pedophile and got their girls' back. But I see folks still out here treating this trash like he's Boko Haram—like he can destroy entire villages in one fell swoop and not be held accountable for the crimes he's committed across swaths of communities. What. The. Hell. Is. So. Magical. About. This. Negro. That. He. Ain't. Had. Some. Hood. Justice. Yet? Better yet, why are we not protecting Black girls from this menace to society?
"Mystic Valley has put out a statement in defense of its dress code policy, stating that the restrictions on hair extensions exist so that the school can promote equity. Hair extensions — it reads — can be expensive." BRUH. This has to be the most ridiculous, boneheaded logic I've EVER heard for why Black girls are being barred from wearing their hair as they see fit. Like, really? REALLY?!
"I have done all I could over the years. But, as the saying goes, I refuse to light myself on fire to keep anyone warm." Sili M. Recio's heartbreaking truth is full of much-needed lessons. Whoo! Hello, Good Morning.
“They would prefer to be ‘all lives matter,’ because then their child is included in the conversation about mattering,” she said. “What they don’t think is, would a black mother feel like her child matters, based upon the way that history, the nation, the city, the institutional structures, have treated her child? That’s not the process they’re using.”
Listen: Yaba Blay loves us. And in my book, she is a national treasure. Get you some of her soul food.
Heart. Melt. Though I would argue that this isn't ALL we Black moms talk about to our children—there is plenty of JOY to be had in raising brown babies, and boy it would be nice to see that every once in a while—I appreciate the points being made here.
Our friends over at Here Wee Read are offering this awesome Prime Day coupon code at checkout to save $5.00 off your purchase of $15.00 or more for diverse books: PRIMEBOOKS17. The coupon is only valid to use one time per account and it is not available to use on any digital content. The coupon code will expire at 11:59pm PT on July 12, 2017. Use it to snap up every last one of the Denene Millner Books, including two incredible new offerings featuring BLACK BOY characters: Derrick Barnes' upcoming "CROWN: An Ode to the Fresh Cut" (featured in this link) and Charly Palmer's "There's a Dragon In My Closet." Don't miss out: you want these on your baby's bookshelves, and who doesn't love a sale? (Also incredibly excited to see a new book illustrated by the incredible and prolific Vanessa Newton, who did all of the beautiful artwork for "Early Sunday Morning," my children's book, which you totally need to add to your collection, too!) #weneeddiversebooks #BlackBoyJoy #SupportBlackAuthors!
Just agreed in principle to a new deal on the Denene Millner Books imprint, making it possible for a new African American author and an incredible African American illustrator—both women—to bring a beautiful children's board book to your baby's bookshelves. YES!!!!!!!!!!!! #BlackGirlMagic #ForTheBabiesAndTheCulture #WeNeedDiverseBooks #AndImGivingThemToYouStraightNoChaser
"Give kids credit," says Stan Yogi, one of the authors on our list. "They have an innate sense of what's right and what's wrong. Being able to draw on that innate sense of justice through relatable stories is so important."
Can't make it to my reading on Saturday? No worries--I got you! Come see me in BING on Sunday! Story time starts at 10 am; I'll be reading "Early Sunday Morning" and other favorites! Bring the babies!
Party people in Chicago: BRING THE BABIES to see me reading "Early Sunday Morning," the debut picture book on Denene Millner Books. This Saturday at 57th Street Books. 10:30 a.m. CDT. Treat yo'self!
Bring the babies to hear me read "Early Sunday Morning" and some of my other favorites at Charis Books' free story hour!
ATL: I'll be reading to the babies at Charis Books and More/Charis Circle tomorrow at 10:30 am! Bring the children to hear "Early Sunday Morning" and some of my other favorites! Meanwhile, listen to this NPR interview I did on the magnificent show, "City of Lights," talking about the joy and fear of singing solos, the beauty of Black families and my mission to bring more beautiful stories featuring Black characters to all babies.
By KIRSTEN WEST SAVALI My father, Theodore Joseph “Bubber” West, died on October 18, 2011. In retrospect, that brisk Tuesday morning was cruel in its normalcy, despite the sense of dread that crawled along my spine as soon as I opened my eyes. But no one or nothing could have prepared me for the day ahead. Barely a month had passed since we’d moved to Apple Valley, California, so I initially chalked up the uneasy feeling to being surrounded by the unfamiliar. [ 2,836 more words ]
OHMIGOD, y'all: I have a TV show, and it debuts this Sunday—a dream I've had since age 14, when I decided I wanted to be Sue Simmons so that I could meet Ralph Tresvant. (Long story.) This is really happening! What's more: it's a show on which Christine White, Monica Pearson and I are talking about subjects that matter to Black women, from an unapologetically Black perspective. It's nothing like you've ever seen before—and I'm a part of it, proudly! Join us tonight at 8 p.m. on Twitter to hear more about the show (follow #asatt to join the convo).
Y'all! I'm a co-host on A Seat At the Table, a revolutionary new weekly talk show on which my co-hosts Christine White, a prominent Atlanta attorney, and Monica Pearson, the legendary Atlanta news anchor, and I are raising our unapologetic, outspoken, intelligent voices on issues specific to Black women, shining a light on the diverse experiences, perspectives and challenges we face in our unique space—the things that matter to us. [ 901 more words ]
He Never Came Home: I Was the Different One
Party people in Chicago: BRING THE BABIES to see me reading "Early Sunday Morning," the debut picture book on Denene Millner Books. June 24, 2017, at 57th Street Books.
This essay is one of several running on MyBrownBaby over the next few weeks in celebration of the release of He Never Came Home: Interviews, Stories, and Essays from Daughters on Life Without Their Fathers, edited by Regina R. Robertson (Agate Bolden, 2017). By CORI MURRAY I wouldn’t say that I hated my father, but there was definitely a time when I couldn’t have cared less if he was in my life. [ 4,296 more words ]
Absolutely delighted that "Early Sunday Morning" is including on this lovely list. Don't have your copy yet? Get it here: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/early-sunday-morning-denene-millner/1124463865
By IDA HARRIS I often question white intelligence 'cause it's questionable, especially in the age of Black Emancipationists, The Remix. It seems to me that whiteness, in all its whiteness, would refrain from doing silly white shit in the name of whiteness exalting Blackness. But that would be too much like right. In the latest white fetish faux pas, celebrity makeup artist Spencer, popularly known by his Instagram handle… [ 436 more words ]
A company that thinks like this surely would have come in handy when my Girlpies were younger and the curves started pushing them into adult-sized clothing--at age 10!
And so it begins—my first born, my Mari, graduates from high school today, taking the first step into the new. It’s a beautiful day. And serendipitous. Universe is funny that way. And awesome. Rock with me on this: it is not without the least bit of irony that today—the day Girlpie walks across the stage to receive her high school diploma (with honors!)—also happens to be exactly a year from the day that Mari, Lila and I stood watch in my bedroom door, watching the maiden flight of five little birds that hatched in a nest their parents built for them on my porch. [ 713 more words ]
Typical. This is exactly how law enforcement and media paint the narrative of Black mothers: as irresponsible, shiftless, uncaring monsters who couldn't care less about our children. Here this woman is in mourning over the murder of her baby, and the cops help spread a narrative that suggests she was complicit in her own child's abduction and murder, rather than acknowledge that the reporting officer did not take this mother and her pleas for help finding her son seriously. She was invisible and mute--just like every other Black mother is in American society's eyes. Fly with the angels, Kingston; may justice for you and your mother be swift and merciless--for the monsters who took your life and the jerks coming for your mama in this, the worst hour of her life.
It's official! Pray for my baby—that she soars high, flies far and uses all those beautiful powers for the greatest good.
I pumped in the front seat of my car, on the corner of 10th and 33rd, because gathering food for my baby in the nasty bathroom where people pooped, peed, threw up and whatever else people do in a bathroom wasn't an option for me. Like, at all. Because ewa. It wasn't lost on me that, for the privilege of pumping in my ride while the local bums looked on, I had to lug all that breastfeeding equipment past what we called "The Butt Hutt," the dedicated smoking room filled mostly by male news reporters. Because that's how the Daily News rolled back in those days. I wonder if anything's changed? Join MomsRising.org to advocate for better options for breastfeeding moms; click the link to see how. #iPumpedHere
I'm so proud of this piece, my debut essay in The New York Times, about Mari, her locs and the bonds Black mothers create with their daughters when they tend their hair. It is the first of the many love songs I'm writing for her while we all prepare for her to head off to college. ❤️
So hyped to have my work included amongst this incredible list of writing uplifting and honoring what I love most to write about: black families. Notes writer Danielle Jackson: "I admire these six writers because they grapple with this history, with all of that fear, and take the plunge anyway, daring to love their families, daring to attempt an intergenerational dialogue that is ripe for healing. They give me hope that maybe, despite my own brokenness, despite the brokenness of our society, perhaps I, too, can stitch together a life that supports a healthy and happy black child."
I hung out with Lovebabz Lovetalk and had an incredible time talking about old school journalism, my time as a political reporter, writing on deadline, that time I interviewed one of Malcolm X's killers, and the art of words—plus, of course, the birth of my new imprint and children's book, "Early Sunday Morning." This is for the ones obsessed with that writing life. Check it!
"For women and girls who have experienced threats of expulsions from school, criticism & legal discrimination in the workplace, and more, this ad made no damn sense. Hair hate? How do you even write that out and don’t include our darker 4a/b/c sisters in the mix?" SAY WORD. Sili M. Recio making it plain.
Oh man: I just watched my reading of "Early Sunday Morning" and got a little teary all over again. If you missed it, the video is in this post; watch it with the babies! And get ready for tonight's "Good Night MyBrownBaby," featuring Adiba Segal's "Meet Clarabelle Blue," a gorgeous story about a chocolate girlpie and all the things she can do from her wheelchair. Pure sweetness! See you tonight at 7:30 p.m. EST!
Certain hair styles don't get certain jobs. True or False? Tune in tonight at 6:30 p.m. to hear what my co-hosts Monica Pearson, Christine White and I have to say on our new talk show, A Seat At The Table. It's fun, funny, introspective, high-five/that's right, say that! dopalicious. Watch on Georgia Public Broadcasting or, if you're not local, online at http://www.gpb.org/seat-at-the-table. Don't miss it!
#blackhairatwork #blackwomenatwork #kinkyandcurly #growitsewitfroit #aSeatAtTheTable
A TREE IS ME
By Mari Chiles
Tall, Fierce, Invincible,
I am the creation that holds this world together. I am a tree.
Some old and ancient, some healthy and new,
I hold life of many kinds, and I am life of my own.
Even though I do not prefer, I help all of human race in the best of ways.
A tough storm comes around and I am ready, with my strong wood and protruding branches.
I was first a small seed with my strength produced
by water and sun.
Now I am a beautiful tree
Tall, Fierce, Invincible.
Happy Earth Day!
Happy Day, Beauties--as long as we keep our heads to the sky! 😘😘😘
Wooo--this is a tough concept to wrap my mind around. I absolutely LOVE babies--all ages, almost obsessively--and couldn't imagine life without my Girlpies. Still, I do remember how it felt to submit to motherhood at the expense of every other part of who I am: woman, writer, activist, passionate, sexual, thoughtful... complicated. It was a tight box to be stuffed in--some days, it suffocated. But it was the love of my children--certainly my dedication to raising and providing for these incredible human beings--that made me rise to the occasion. I grew them up, but they grew me up, too, in a way I can't imagine would have occurred if I were childless. My life (and who I've become) is because Mari and Lila are. I wouldn't change that for anything.
I mean, this pretty much makes her a superhero, no?
A most delicious selection of picture books featuring Black children doing what Black children do: laughing, loving, getting into mischief, dreaming... being. Vanessa Newton's "Don't Let Aunt Mabel Bless the Table" is on here. Get into it. (And add "Early Sunday Morning" to the list!)
"Downplaying the importance of breastfeeding is doing infants and mothers a grave disservice, particularly when breastfeeding can help reduce the unacceptably high rate of infant mortality in our country. That’s why all of us can play an important role in calling out the manipulative and misleading marketing of infant formula as well as disinformation campaigns designed to stoke fears, undermine women’s confidence to breastfeed, play into a mother's guilt, and blame-and-shame groups that work to promote breastfeeding."
Looking at the photo, Ewell sees a manifestation of vulnerability, freedom, evolution and love. “My body housed the safest space on Earth for two beings. I nourished and birthed them from the confines of this body,” she said. “My body grew and stretched to make sure they were adequately protected. How miraculous! I am honored to have been able to bring such wonderful gifts into this world.” <<--YES.
Che Calix was Mari's science teacher in 7th grade. The girl walked into his class with the idea that maybe she wanted to be a doctor when she grew up, but after Che's class, she knew for sure: being a doctor was her calling. She was sure because her science teacher said she could be one. Had her cutting on lamb hearts and cow brains and octopus bodies in science club, and getting hyped about biology. A good teacher is a good teacher. But boy, when a Black man tells a Black child she can fly, she spreads her wings. Mari is at the tail end of choosing a univesity to attend: whether Yale, Washington U, George Washington or Spelman, she will enter a pre-med major. To Che, Kemi, Oman Frame and Mr. Hardy, I simply say, "THANK YOU."
Yes! Check out this dope interview from the hypest Black feminist site, Crunk Feminist Collective. What an honor to be featured there!
My heart is absolutely broken. Patricia McKissack, a renowned children's book author who made a point of honoring the beautiful lives of black folk, is gone from here. For years, I've read her "Precious and the Boo Hag" picture book to elementary school classrooms, and even did it recently as a "Good Night, MyBrownBaby" feature, because the story and words are absolutely delicious, and also because the writing inspires. Truly, she was a gem. Lucky for us, she lives on in a legacy of books that kiss the hearts of children the world over. Fly with the angels, Ms. McKissack. Tell a few of your incredible stories while you're there.
I pitched Early Sunday Morning to a few children’s book editors back in 2003, while working as an editor for Parenting magazine. None of them seemed to understand the concept—the idea that black families have a getting-ready-for-church ritual that starts on Saturday, or that Black Baptist church communities devote themselves to nurturing children in the ways of not only the Bible, but also the socialization, culture and fierceness that comes from being raised within that tightly connected group. Makes no never mind, though: Here we are 14 years later, and Early Sunday Morning is no longer sitting on my computer; it’s come to life in the most astounding way possible: by my own hand, on my own imprint, in partnership with a scrappy independent publisher, Agate Publishing. It was meant to go down this way.
Join me in celebrating the release of this, my new children's book (my 27th book), officially published tomorrow! I'll be featuring it on Facebook Live in the latest installment of "Good Night, MyBrownBaby." Tuesday, April 11, at 7:30 pm. Be here! http://mybrownbaby.com/2017/04/14123/
You guys. I just... my heart is so full right now as I prepare to celebrate the release of my children’s picture book Early Sunday Morning, the first picture book on my new imprint, Denene Millner Books! Early Sunday Morning is out tomorrow, just in time for the latest “Good Night Baby,” going down tomorrow night at 7:30 sharp on the… [ 712 more words ]
Try using one of these amazing deals on your next toy store purchase Smyths Discount Code