There remain systems of social, economic and political marginalization that prevent black women and femmes from being able to fully live with dignity and reproductive autonomy. In response to that, Forward Together’s annual Mamas Day digital campaign has the theme “Black Mamas’ Right to Parent” for 2018.
For Mamas Day 2018, Forward Together worked with Black Mamas Matter Alliance, National Network of Abortion Funds, SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and Southern Birth Justice Network to produce the annual campaign that uses art and digital media to amplify and celebrate all forms of mamahood, including incarcerated mamas; undocumented mamas; immigrant mamas; lesbian, transgender and queer mamas; mamas of color; foster/adoptive mamas; and other caretakers who care for their communities in maternal ways.
This year’s theme will combat the racial and gender-based violence that disproportionately impacts black mamas—specifically criminalization, maternal health and reproductive autonomy.
The group seeks to help tell stories about topics that affect black mamas as a way of getting people to consider the ways in which race, gender, immigration, sexuality and class impact one’s ability to parent.
Here are some facts and stats to consider:
- SisterSong defines “reproductive justice” as the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children or not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.
- 60 percent of black girls will be sexually assaulted before age 18.
- Black women are three to four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as their white counterparts.
- In Southeast Washington, D.C., where the city’s most concentrated population of black people live, babies die at more than twice the rate of the U.S. as a whole and nearly 10 times the rate of those in affluent Northwest Washington.
- 80 percent of incarcerated women are mothers.
- A 2014 study revealed that 60 percent of women who had an abortion had already had one birth.
This is Forward Together’s eighth annual Mamas Day celebration. As part of this year’s celebration, the Black Mamas Revival pledge seeks to build a world where all black mamas are able to thrive and maintain their right to parent.
Five artists from the African Diaspora—Francis Mead, Iman Geddy, Amir Khadar, Jamilla Okubo and Loveis Wise—were chosen to design cards that reflect what black mamahood means to them. This year’s cards celebrate the many variations of black mamahood.
In explaining their approach to creating work for this campaign, artist Amir Khadar said:
My mom is my muse; she is a strong, beautiful, dark-skinned African woman who has been a mother to so many more than just her biological children. I created this card with her in mind. Empowering black women and/or femmes is always central in my work, and mothers are not an exclusion. I generally like to look at narratives and situations where black people have been left out—in this case, it was Mother’s Day—and create a place for them. This project also allowed me to reflect on my relationship with my mom.
“I never understood how my mother was able to raise my brothers and me as a single mother in a new country,” said Geddy. “She’d lost her community when she left home, and that meant she no longer had that support system that was built into her culture. As a child, watching her struggle made me determined to find my community here in my new home and forge my own extended family that expanded heteronormative notions of kinship. Mamas Day allowed me to pay homage to not just my mother who in her own way taught me about the importance of community, but to other trailblazer mamas and movement mamas who nurtured me and guided me along my journey.”
For Mead, her own mamahood was the inspiration for her salute to other black mamas.
“As a black mama and artist, it is so special to be a part of this campaign and share my own experience of motherhood. I believe black mothers in all their forms need to be celebrated and honored,” Mead said.
If you would like to participate and help honor black mamas and black mamahood everywhere, here’s how:
- Sign the Black Mamas Revival pledge to join the fight to protect, support and amplify black mamas.
- Visit mamasday.org to send a card to black mamas.
- Share the Mamas Day art and Black Mamas Revival pledge to encourage others to commit to building a world where all black mamas can thrive.
- Donate to Forward Together to support our Mamas Day tradition of recognizing mamahood in all forms through powerful, transformative artwork.
- Follow and share photos and stories of #MamasDay on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.