We Live for the We

The Political Power of Black Motherhood

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By Dani McClain

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A warm, wise, and urgent guide to parenting in uncertain times, from a longtime reporter on race, reproductive health, and politics

In We Live for the We, first-time mother Dani McClain sets out to understand how to raise her daughter in what she, as a black woman, knows to be an unjust — even hostile — society. Black women are more likely to die during pregnancy or birth than any other race; black mothers must stand before television cameras telling the world that their slain children were human beings. What, then, is the best way to keep fear at bay and raise a child so she lives with dignity and joy?

McClain spoke with mothers on the frontlines of movements for social, political, and cultural change who are grappling with the same questions. Following a child’s development from infancy to the teenage years, We Live for the We touches on everything from the importance of creativity to building a mutually supportive community to navigating one’s relationship with power and authority. It is an essential handbook to help us imagine the society we build for the next generation.

Excerpt

Introduction

WHEN I WAS SEVEN OR EIGHT YEARS OLD, MY MOTHER PUT ON WHITNEY Houston’s recording of “Greatest Love of All” every day before we left home for school and work, and we sang along from start to finish. We stood in the living room in those moments before we shrugged on our coats and belted out lyrics about self-reliance and refusing to let the possibility of failure keep us from trying. We wrapped ourselves in the richness and power of Whitney’s voice, reaching for the high notes right along with her. I can’t remember how long this lasted. It could’ve been weeks or even months, but I remember it as a defining ritual of my childhood. We weren’t much of a singing family, but in the mid-1980s, my mother made sure we shrouded ourselves in a kind of armor through song and remembered who we were before facing a day that was sure to challenge us.

She’s too young now, but I plan to do something similar with my daughter, Isobel, who has just turned two at the time of this writing. For her, I might build a ritual around Nina Simone’s “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” or maybe the Donny Hathaway version. Black children and their families need this, I think. We need a kind of anthem, a melodic reminder to ourselves and each other that we are not who the wider world too often tells us we are: criminal, disposable, lazy, undeserving of health or peace or laughter.

This book is about my quest as a new mother to help my daughter understand as early as possible who she is and what she came to do on this beleaguered planet. It reflects on our experiences in the first years of her life and weaves together interviews with black mothers and grandmothers who are further along this journey and generous with their stories of triumphs and tribulations. I have chosen to focus on mothers rather than parents more broadly, because my reporting was driven by my most urgent questions. I am black, and I am a woman. These aspects of my identity will shape how I guide my daughter. Throughout the book, I sometimes choose the verb “to mother” over the noun “motherhood,” an approach I learned from Alexis Pauline Gumbs, China Martens, and Mai’a Williams, coeditors of the book Revolutionary Mothering. Mothering is an action done by a range of people, including grandmothers, aunts, and queer and gender nonconforming people who don’t identify as women but who see themselves engaging in, as Gumbs puts it, “the practice of creating, nurturing, affirming and supporting life.”1

This book sets out to broaden a conversation established by the current wave of writing on motherhood, which has tended to focus on white, middle-class women’s experiences. These writings frame motherhood as something that robs women of our professional ambitions, gets us off track as earners, and reminds us that biology and age-old gender roles are indeed destiny. I can relate to funny anecdotes about sleep deprivation, toddlers’ antics, and ruined sex lives, but these articles and books rarely address the politics of mothering—namely, issues of power, position, and protection.

I know that motherhood is deeply political. Black women are more likely to die during pregnancy or birth than women of any other race. I endured health problems during my pregnancy and had only white medical providers, so I’ve thought a lot about the link between bias in health care and maternal mortality. My own mother, who has never married and who worked full-time throughout my childhood, is a model for my own parenting. But culture war messages—from the left and the right—tell us she fell short of maternal ideals. My grandmother, great-grandmother, aunts, and elders in the community supported my mother as she raised me. Their investment in me and in other children—some their blood relations, some not—demonstrated an ethic of care and mutual aid that we can all learn from.

For this book, I spoke with mothers who have ties to movements for social, political, and cultural change. I sought them out because I found it likely that they had at some point grappled with the questions I am facing as a new parent. They are parents to young children and parents to grown-ups. They are parents to siblings and to only children. They are partnered and single. They include educators and health workers, academics and retirees, artists and spiritual guides, a therapist, a city planner, and many organizers and activists.

The title, We Live for the We, is something one of these mothers, Cat Brooks, often tells her twelve-year-old daughter when their individual desires come up against some larger community need. “Our job as black mothers is to keep pushing the liberation ball down the court. Our obligation is to leave the world better for them and to ensure that they are equipped with the tools that they need to fight,” Brooks, an organizer in Oakland, told me when I interviewed her. “I tell my daughter all the time—and it’s harsh—but we don’t live for the I. We live for the we.”

With her words, Brooks brought contemporary meaning to something I’d read in scholarship on black motherhood. Historically, black women have engaged in what sociologist Patricia Hill Collins has called “other-mothering,” a system of care through which they are accountable to and work on behalf of all black children in a particular community. This broad understanding of family responsibility often became a launch pad for public service. Collins writes, “For many women, what began as the daily expression of their obligations as community other-mothers… developed into full-fledged roles as community leaders.”2

In addition to serving as other-mothers, we’ve had to fight for our right to be mothers. Prior to emancipation, enslaved people could not lay legal claim to their children.3 The child of an enslaved woman was someone’s property. For the more than four hundred years since the inception of slavery on this continent, black women have had to inhabit a different understanding of motherhood in order to navigate American life. If we merely accepted the status quo and failed to challenge the forces that have kept black people and women oppressed, then we participated in our own and our children’s destruction.

This has been especially evident in recent years as dozens of black women and men have had to stand before television cameras telling the world that their recently slain children were in fact human beings, were in fact loved and sources of joy, despite whatever stories law enforcement or conservative media were telling about why they deserved their untimely deaths. In these moments, I’ve been reminded of how much is asked of black parents and of how politically powerful black parenting can be. The mothers of those killed by police or vigilante violence embody every black mother’s deepest fears: that we will not be able to adequately protect our children from or prepare them for a world that has to be convinced of their worth. Many parents speak of feeling more fear and anxiety once they take responsibility for keeping another human alive and well. But black women especially know fear—how to live despite it and how to metabolize it for our children so they’re not consumed by it.

In the pages that follow, I show how one black American mother is reimagining what it means to parent during a time of conservative backlash, growing authoritarian tendencies, and a rise in white supremacist and patriarchal violence and rhetoric. This book explores how to raise a black girl child in the age of #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo. At two, my daughter is already full of questions, and I wonder what she’ll ask me as she gets older. I wonder how the world will change in these coming decades, how we’ll experience shifts in climate, whether US institutions and our confidence in them will continue to collapse. I wonder if I’ll be around to watch with her as we collectively pull ourselves back from the brink of extinction and bring about a renaissance, a social reordering that benefits more of us. I also wonder just how bad things can get and how soon—how our family will manage if we find ourselves in a postapocalyptic landscape similar to something out of an Octavia Butler novel. Whatever our fate, how will I answer her questions about how things were when she was a baby? How will I explain the choices I’ve made as an individual, the choices made by the communities we belong to, the choices made by the governments and corporations that have so much influence over our lives?

What has been interesting, in the fever dream that has been life in the United States since Donald Trump came to power, is that some of black women’s deepest fears have become more comprehensible to the broader society. Those who believed they had no real reason to doubt that their children would be safe in this country are increasingly terrified. Things they felt they could take for granted before the 2016 election—that our leaders generally agreed that antagonizing a nuclear power with childish Twitter provocations was a bad idea; that despite climate change and environmental toxins, at least some smart and ethical people were empowered to fight the good fight at the EPA; or that democracy and its attendant norms would keep the United States stable—are no longer a given. No one has ever been able to guarantee safe passage into adulthood for their children, but nonblack parents with money, citizenship, and class status had a leg up on the rest of us. Now, even for many of them, the threats and uncertainty seem to multiply by the day. The Trump era, it seems, has given those who may have previously felt invulnerable to the shifting tides of human fortune a wake-up call.

At a time when “Resist!” has for some become a national battle cry in response to the norms-trampling Trump administration, it’s critical to look at the messages communicated within our families and address any hypocrisies or inconsistencies head on. I don’t think it’s possible to be ready for the tough questions my own daughter will ask someday, but I know I want to be available for them. Family is often the first social institution to shape how we understand our identities and our politics.4 We should all seize the opportunity, and the mothers whose words appear on the pages that follow can act as guides.

The research suggests that white parents in particular need help with seeing family as a site of political education, especially when it comes to passing on antiracist values. A 2007 study in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that out of seventeen thousand families with kindergartners, parents of color are about three times more likely to discuss race than their white counterparts. Seventy-five percent of the white parents in the study never or almost never talked about race. According to research highlighted in Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman’s 2009 book, NurtureShock, white parents communicate messages that skin color doesn’t matter and that everyone is equal, messages children know to be lies based on their own experiences even as early as infancy. When pressed, these parents often admit that they don’t know how to talk about race and are scared that if they try, their kids will say the wrong things in the world.5

Black mothers, on the other hand, are scared not of talk of race but of the impact of racist oppression. We’re scared because we have no choice but to release our beloved creations into environments—doctor’s offices, hospitals, daycare facilities, playgrounds, schools—where white supremacy is often woven into the fabric of the institution and is both consciously and unwittingly practiced by the people acting in loco parentis. Black mothers haven’t had the luxury of sticking our heads in the sand and hoping our children learn about race and power as they go. Instead, we must act as a buffer and translator between them and the world, beginning from their earliest days.

We Live for the We is structured around the questions mothers ask at each stage of a child’s life. The first three chapters focus on matters that consume us early on: How will I give birth? What kind of home does this child need? What will family mean to this child? The next three chapters focus on socialization and education. The final three chapters focus on questions we may think of as relevant to older children: How do I introduce religion or spirituality? How and when should we talk about sex? How should we talk about politics, and when is the right time to bring her along to rallies, protests, and marches?

Of course, there are gaps in my reporting that other books will need to focus on. Many sources, like me, experience privilege on the basis of our education and class status. I don’t address the challenges of parenting while homeless or while incarcerated, nor do I address the child welfare system, a mechanism of surveillance and control that affects the lives of too many black mothers who are punished because their poverty is read as neglect.

My desire to research how black mothers talk to their children about their bodies and sexual health, the focus of Chapter 7, grew out of the six years I’ve spent reporting on the reproductive justice movement. The book in its entirety is guided by the intellectual framework reproductive justice offers—that the right to parent children in safe and healthy environments is just as critical as the right to abortion and contraception. I am indebted to Loretta Ross, a reproductive justice foremother whom I have interviewed over the years, and activists on the front lines who have patiently pointed me in the direction of important stories and sources.

The words and actions of many scholars, journalists, and organizers inspired me to embark on this project: Patricia Hill Collins, bell hooks, and Audre Lorde are quoted throughout. I leaned heavily on Stacey Patton’s book on black families and discipline in reporting Chapter 2. I had Nikole Hannah-Jones’s education coverage in mind as I formulated the questions at the heart of Chapter 6. I have long been an admirer of Trina Greene Brown, founder of the organization Parenting for Liberation. Her words below, shared with me during a January 2018 interview, are a perfect invitation into the pages that follow:

We are raising children who were never meant to survive… People who are raising kids who were meant to survive have a lot to learn from us. We can teach resilience. We can instill pride. We can instill values around compassion and love. We can also instill a sense of joy and play in horrible conditions… You have a lot to learn from the magic of Black mothering and Black parenting. Imagine what we could do if we actually had resources. Imagine what we could do if we actually were on fertile soil and not in a desert. Imagine if it wasn’t concrete and we were planting roses. Just imagine what would be possible.




CHAPTER 1

Birth

ITS A SUNDAY AFTERNOON IN JULY 2016, AND I’M LYING ON MY BED, trying to calm down. The month’s rapid-fire events are hitting me square in the gut. Today, someone agitated by police shootings of black men ambushed police in Baton Rouge. Already, commentators are pointing a finger at black organizers. Just over a week ago, a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas ended with a sniper targeting police there; in return, the police circulated an image of an innocent protester as a suspect before using a robot to kill the alleged perpetrator. Two days before the Dallas shooting, Baton Rouge police killed Alton Sterling while he was pinned to the ground, and the next day Philando Castile was shot dead by police during a traffic stop in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota, while his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter sat inches away.

For the past three years, my job has been to report on black-led organizing and the police violence that fuels it, and until recently, I’ve been able to read and process related news with the detachment that my journalism training has instilled in me. But now, what I see online and on TV simply makes me afraid. I am seven months pregnant, and these days, tragic events hit me in a way that I can’t neatly tuck away. I’m learning that in moments like these, it’s critical that I step away from the screen and stop crying, that I figure out how to return my breathing to normal. My health and my fetus’s health depend on it.

Black women, after all, are almost four times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than our white counterparts, and black babies are twice as likely as white babies to die before their first birthday. I worry that I’ll have a baby that’s too small to thrive or that I’ll be treated so negligently by the hospital staff during delivery that I will end up seriously injured or dead.

I shouldn’t have to worry. I eat a healthy diet; I don’t have high blood pressure or diabetes. I am not poor; I have private insurance and a master’s degree. I started prenatal appointments at ten weeks and haven’t missed one. But I’m under no illusion that my class privilege will save me. Research suggests that it’s the stress caused by racial discrimination experienced over a lifetime that leads to black American women’s troubling birth outcomes, not the individual choices those women make or how much money or education they have.

I have sat slack-jawed as I read the work of public health researcher Arline Geronimus, who has found that the average black woman might be less healthy at twenty-five than she was at fifteen and that African American women at thirty-five have the rates of disability of white Americans who are fifty-five. The American experience tears away at the black body. I am thirty-eight years old, and so daily slights and structural racism have had plenty of time to take their toll.

Thus my decision that day, made during the long summer of my third trimester, to take a break from the news, which served as a constant reminder of two disturbing realities: One, that in carrying a black child, I was carrying a potential Sterling or Castile or Rekia Boyd or Tamir Rice. And two, that my health and that of my child-to-be were largely in the hands of people who, like me, had been watching events unfold in Baton Rouge or Dallas or Ferguson or Chicago—but who may have had a completely different understanding from me of how race works in this country.

When I walked into my ob-gyn’s office in Dayton, Ohio, or into the offices of the various specialists I saw over the course of my pregnancy, I suspected that the all-white teams of receptionists, nurses, and doctors (OK, there was a black receptionist at the office where I got my ultrasounds) first saw a black woman, not an Ivy League graduate or someone whose job included researching reproductive health—or any of the other characteristics that some may think would shield me from substandard care. An Institute of Medicine report found that people of color “are less likely to receive needed services” even when their insurance and income are the same as white people’s.1 So I tried to leverage every bit of privilege I could to stave off any assumptions that my health-care providers might have made. I wasn’t married and rarely wore my engagement ring, but I made sure to put it on before every prenatal appointment. When I showed up to an appointment with cornrows or an Afro, I wondered if I’d be treated differently from the times I’d come with my hair flat-ironed.

These concerns may seem far-fetched, but during my pregnancy, they were very real to me. A 2016 study by the University of Virginia found that about half of the white medical students and residents surveyed held at least one false belief about biological differences between black and white people: that black people’s nerve endings are less sensitive than white people’s, for instance. These were not randomly selected people, mind you, but students well on their way to becoming doctors. Those implicit biases affected their ability to make appropriate decisions about treating black patients. Dr. Norman Oliver, a coauthor of the study and Virginia’s current state health commissioner, told me that while the so-called social determinants of health—access to safe housing, jobs, education, health insurance—are largely responsible for health inequities, bias in clinical treatment also plays a role. A 1999 study of cardiovascular health found that black women are at a particular disadvantage when it comes to receiving adequate care.2

Speaking to Oliver made me think of the minutes before my daughter’s birth late that summer of 2016, when the nurse in charge of administering the anesthetic introduced himself to me just prior to my C-section. He was a white man, friendly, willing to answer all of my questions. When he finished explaining the process we were about to begin, I looked him in the eyes and made him promise me that I wouldn’t feel anything, as if personal obligation rather than his training would get me the appropriate care. I didn’t need to read Oliver’s research to fear that I might feel my obstetrician slice into my abdomen due to racist ideas about pain and blackness.

This same distrust caused me to be skeptical that I actually needed the C-section I was told was necessary at fourteen weeks. That’s when a white doctor reviewed my ultrasound and told me that not only did I have fibroids but also that the largest one—the size of a grapefruit—was blocking the birth canal, making vaginal birth impossible. That doctor had also been warm and responsive, but the encounter—especially her warning that the fibroids put me at increased risk for hemorrhage and hysterectomy during surgery—set me on edge. I hadn’t known prior to the ultrasound that I had fibroids, but I had many friends and family members who did have them; black women are up to three times more likely than white women to have them. I knew that the C-section rate in the United States—32 percent—is more than double what’s recommended by the World Health Organization. The C-section rate here is slightly higher for black women than for white women, even for black women who are low-risk. Was I being steered by a provider with unconscious racial bias toward becoming another statistic? I held on to the possibility that she and my white obstetrician, who confirmed her findings, were wrong, that they couldn’t imagine the same options for me that they might for a white patient. It wasn’t until I’d gotten a second opinion from a black woman ob-gyn that I accepted that a C-section was the right choice. I felt more confident that she’d been able to see me as a human being, just like her.

ANAYAH SANGODELE-AYOKA, A CERTIFIED NURSE MID-WIFE, tells me that this desire for what she calls cultural congruence is common among the patients she sees. The Washington, DC, hospital where she works hosts an event where expectant families can hear from all eleven of the midwives available to work with them. At the end of these events, the black families in attendance will line up to talk one-on-one with Sangodele-Ayoka, who is one of two black midwives in the practice. “People generally want someone who’s more familiar,” she tells me. “They want to know that somebody is going to understand the concerns that they have around racialized trauma, around bringing kids into the world, around family dynamics.”

Sangodele-Ayoka has found that with an increased level of comfort, her patients are more willing to open up about issues that are relevant to their health but that may be received differently and with more judgment by a nonblack provider. For example, an expecting mom may admit that she and her partner fight or that she uses marijuana or that the family doesn’t have enough to eat. Once Sangodele-Ayoka has a more complete picture of that pregnant person’s life, she can offer tailored support, including interventions aimed at reducing stress. “Let’s take some deep breaths. Let’s talk about what it’s like to be a black woman,” she tells me, offering examples of how a conversation with a patient might go. She’ll tell that patient how pressures from family, from work, and from the world can affect her nervous system and thus her birth. They might talk about how to set better boundaries or how to do a yoga pose that offers physical relief from the discomforts of pregnancy. She often finds herself convincing her patients that taking care of themselves isn’t at all selfish. It’s actually necessary.

Black birth workers—midwives as well as doulas, who assist but provide no medical care—can encourage health and self-determination in black parents-to-be. They can also help black families navigate inhospitable health-care settings. Linda Jones has been a birth and postpartum doula in the San Francisco Bay Area for nearly thirty years. Jones, who is black, says her clients of color are treated differently by medical staff. White couples are assumed to be married; other couples are not. A standard question about drug and alcohol use is often glossed over for white couples. Part of Jones’s job is to prepare her clients for what to expect while at doctors’ appointments or during a hospital birth, arming them with questions for providers. “They need someone to help empower them to have the birth that they want,” Jones said. “If we can get women-of-color doulas and women-of-color midwives, the trauma will lessen,” she told me. “Maybe we’ll stop dying and maybe we’ll stop having all these C-sections that seem to be our lot.”

I have no problem asking doctors questions, even to the point of making a nuisance of myself. Still, I considered hiring a doula for the birth. I would have preferred a black woman, but at the time I couldn’t find one in southwestern Ohio. Black women in particular have an unmet need for birth assistance, according to a 2016 Choices in Childbirth report. Of the black women surveyed, 39 percent wanted but did not have access to the services of a doula, compared with 30 percent of Latinas and 22 percent of white women.3 I interviewed a white woman for the job and liked her well enough, but her services cost $900, and my partner and I didn’t want to pay that much; we were already paying $200 for a birth-education course through a local hospital.

Genre:

  • "Dani McClain reminds us why Black women, specifically Black mothers, are the backbones of every single society. While we are often neglected and disenfranchised our labor is what has built democracies around the globe. This is a must read for all Black mamas and our allies. Thank you Dani and thank you Dani's daughter for showing us the way forward."—Patrisse Khan-Cullors, author of When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir
  • "Dani McClain charts the rich territory of black motherhood, an element of American life that is overlooked and undervalued even as our society benefits from its tenacity and love. We Live for the We is deeply researched, compassionately reported, and soars with the beauty and urgency of McClain's truest expertise: her own life as a black woman raising a young daughter. Parenting is political and we all have much to learn from the work McClain chronicles in these pages. This book is a gift, and it is for everyone."—Angela Garbes, author of Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture ofPregnancy
  • "Dani McClain's We Live for the We is more than a reimagining of motherhood. It's an equally soulful and skillful immersion into the questions of how we go beyond survival in a nation intent on the suffering of Black mothers and their children. The book refuses to let us run, every paragraph seeking the contour of who we really are in the dark and how our children will be protected, loved, and tenderly allowed to fail and grow by parents willing to revise what we've all been taught. This is the rare book that will change lives and public policy."—Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir
  • "Motherhood is one of the most contested and policed categories that black women occupy in American society. With her intellectual gravitas, gifted storytelling, and feminist insights, Dani McClain's We Live for We brilliantly chronicles how African-American women confront these contradictions as deeply political and personal acts. This book is a timely, compassionate, and eye-opening contribution to our most pressing debates about race and gender."—Salamishah Tillet, Henry Rutgers Professor of African American and African Studies and Creative Writing
  • "We Live for the We is a crucial chapter in the history of Black motherhood as a political act. Enslaved mothers taught their babies to read without being discovered, now Black mothers must teach our children to stay safe from police, from sexual predators, from racist teachers. McClain shows that we must be strategic with our rage and still vulnerable with our love -- our political work requires this range. This text showcases the harsh realities of Black motherhood and the best solutions currently available, while pointing to the ways we must still change everything for the sake of our children."—dream hampton, writer, filmmaker, and organizer, andproducer of Surviving R. Kelly
  • "Many mothers of my generation lacked safe and effective birth control, survived childhood sexual abuse, or were prematurely sterilized. These experiences shaped our understandings of pregnancy and motherhood. Dani McClain both acknowledges and departs from these painful realities with her portrait of motherhood as an act of liberation. She offers a window into the granularity of the challenges millennials face when parenting. This book describes parenting choices as empowering and bewildering at the same time and, in doing so, portrays the heart of Black mothering."—Loretta Ross, co-author of Reproductive Justice: An Introduction and co-founder of SisterSongWomen of Color Reproductive Justice Collective
  • "Dani McClain has written that rarest and most satisfying of books -- one that illuminates a fraught political and cultural landscape through the pinhole aperture of her own mothering and the questions it surfaces. It is both intimate and epic, sweet and fierce. As a white mother, it read as inspiration and provocation for the kind of parallel questions I need and want to be asking. I'll be a better parent and citizen for having looked through McClain's dynamic lens."—Courtney E. Martin, Author of The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream
  • "Dani McClain is one of the most lucid, insightful, and gifted critics working today: her work sings with eloquence and is driven by analytical fury. This is the book we parents need right now!"—Michael Eric Dyson
  • "In this generous, well-researched book, Dani McClain bridges realism with idealism, and critique with our shared craving for the better world all of our children deserve. Generations of parents and community members will use this book to make decisions, to revive our hope, and to teach each other about the implications of difference in a stratified society. Most importantly, for me, this book engages and continues the brave multi-generational tradition of Black mothers sharing their own experiences and their revolutionary visions for the benefit of all people. Thank you, Dani McClain, for bringing your hardest questions, your rigorous observations, your priceless relationship with your daughter, and your open heart to this necessary work."—Alexis Pauline Gumbs, PhD, co-editor of RevolutionaryMothering: Love on the Front Lines
  • "I read this book shouting 'YES!', throwing up praise hands, pacing the floor, overcome with gratitude! We Live for the We is a glorious exploration of how we outgrow the isolating terror of oppression and lean into the interdependent wisdom of love. McClain asks questions that require readers to change - change how we think of single parents, of discipline, good births, freedom, education, autonomy, community, safety, and ultimately, power. Conversational and precise, McClain uncovers roots of white supremacy, patriarchy and capitalism in the ground beneath our children's feet. Parents and caregivers of all backgrounds can learn from McClain's deft reporting and storytelling, but Black mothers (and grandis, grammis, grandmas, aunties, sisters, godmothers, midwives, doulas and friends) will learn while also feeling celebrated and loved for how we have lived a legacy of village building, how we have survived the impossible together, and how we are responsible for a thriving Black future."—adrienne maree brown, author of EmergentStrategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good and co-editor of Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Storiesfrom Social Justice Movements
  • "Dani McClain has produced an important work that will show the world just how powerful and transformative radical Black motherhood is and always has been. This path can be very isolating at times but it's refreshing to see that I'm not alone in this process and now other moms, dads, and allies will have the tools to join the fight to make the next generation more self-possessed and feminist than those before them."—Jamilah Lemieux, writerand cultural critic

On Sale
Apr 2, 2019
Page Count
272 pages
Publisher
Bold Type Books
ISBN-13
9781568588551

Dani McClain

About the Author

Dani McClain reports on race and reproductive health. She is a contributing writer at the Nation and a fellow with Type Media Center (formerly the Nation Institute). McClain’s writing has appeared in outlets including Slate, Talking Points Memo, Colorlines, EBONY.com, and The Rumpus. She was a staff reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and has worked as a strategist with organizations including Color of Change and the Drug Policy Alliance. McClain lives with her family in Cincinnati.

Learn more about this author