Conversations On Baby Mamas

Posted on September 19, 2012

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Fellow writer Stacia L. Brown is launching an exciting, new project tomorrow. Beyond Baby Mamas will be a weekly web broadcast in which Brown and a panel of special guests will host conversations on a range of issues that relate to being a single mother of color; in particular the assumptions that are attached to being a “baby mama.” Tomorrow’s discussion will be Statistics Are Not Our Stories: Confronting Public Perceptions of Minority Single Motherhood. 

Not to make it political, but the timing for the show’s launch seems to  perfectly coincide with recent discussions about Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney and his comments about the 47 percent of Americans who do depend on the government for some type of aid.

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.” – Mitt Romney

With the use of the word “entitled,” Romney has rattled a lot of nerves, including mine. His mischaracterization seems to imply or be based on  assumptions or stereotypes; mainly on minorities and how we are assumed or perceived to use and abuse the system. I have to wonder if the image of a “baby mama” of color was included in his thinking. She’s the one perceived to be on welfare, collecting government checks, spending child support money on anything other than her child and practicing other gross misuse of government aid while exercising dependency.  Of course this isn’t so, at least not in the 47 percent Romney mentioned. Yesterday, The Root broke down the 47 percent to explain who they really are and the image of a complacent minority did not come to mind as I read.

I’m a single mom and I’m part of that 47 percent. I’m not paying taxes right now, because I don’t make enough to pay. After having my daughter in 2007, I used federal aid to finish my college education. The increased amount on my Pell Grant under the Obama Administration helped tremendously! Under the Bush Administration, I struggled to finance my education as federal aid and a grant from the DC government could not cover all of my cost. As a result, I had to leave school several times. I graduated in 2010 (long after my supposed graduation year 2002).

Before returning to school, I had to use WIC. I receive free health care through DC’s medicaid program until I either land a full time job that offers a health package or my business as a freelance journalist/consulting writer/editor reaches a point where I can shop around for more options. Yet the health care system is a joke. It’s a lesson I learned the hard way during my pregnancy; especially with the high premiums for a PPO. I was never more happy (and frantic) when Blue Cross Blue Shield dropped me (literally two days before I gave birth) due to a missed payment (that financial struggle is real) and I was approved for medicaid, but I hated the treatment I received at the office when I applied. I was looked upon and treated as another statistic or served with those “umm mmm” eyes as if they knew my story.  It’s still a place I hate going to when I have to re-certify. Yet, I used WIC and medicaid for survival! No one wants to be in such a position, but you do what you have to do.

I hate the terms “baby mama” and “baby daddy” because of the stigma or negative connotations attached to them. I’m somebody’s mother and to my child’s father I’m the mother of his child. During my pregnancy I did express my fears and concerns about being a single mom. I didn’t necessarily worry about how society would view me, because unfortunately, being a single mom is a norm. I did fret over my image. What type of mother did I want to be? One of the things that soothed me was a book I purchased when I was five months into my pregnancy; The Mocha Manual To a Fabulous Pregnancy by Kimberly Seals-Allers. Laced with anecdotes,  the book dishes on health, finances, maternity fashion and beauty all specifically for pregnant women of color. However, there is one chapter specifically on single motherhood and how to handle ill comments, assumptions and so forth aimed at you. I LOVED IT!

I doubt I’ll ever embrace the term “baby mama,” but I love that Brown has come up with a platform to discuss and debunk the issues, myths and assumptions that abound single minority mothers.

Tune into Beyond Baby Mamas tomorrow at 6:30 pm (EST) at Google Hangouts On Air via Google Plus.

Be sure to check out the Beyond Baby Mamas tumblr blog and Facebook page. 

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