The Invisible Load of Black Motherhood, Explained

Mothering Black Children Comes With Invisible Weight, And This Graphic Perfectly Sums It Up

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Our social media feeds are jam-packed with information about race, racism, anti-racism, racial justice, protesting, and policing right now. It’s overwhelming at times to sort through the articles, memes, and videos. However, one recent graphic stopped me in my tracks, and for good reason. Two moms worked together to create a graphic that would teach us about the invisible load of Black motherhood and to remind us that moms need to stick together.

Chasity Holcomb is a Black woman, Licensed Professional Counselor in Texas, and mom of two girls. Erica Djossa is a white woman in an interracial marriage. She’s raising three bi-racial boys, and she is a registered psychotherapist and maternal mental health specialist. Erica was running a graphic series on social media, focusing on the invisible load mothers face. She invited Chasity to co-create a graphic specifically for mothers of Black children.

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Mama's @_happyasamother and I see you. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ The invisible load series was created for moms everywhere to know that they are seen and not alone. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Black mama's and mothers of black children you are not alone. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Know that we see what you are going through. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Stay strong and keep showing up ❤️⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Below is a list of some Black and WOC accounts in the maternal mental health and parenting space. Follow them for more more resources on maternal mental health ❤️🙏⁣⁣ ⁣ If you know of others (especially maternal mental health and parenting) let me know and I'll esit/add them to this list! ⁣ ⁣⁣ Black and WOC maternal mental health practitioners⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ @drangelmontfort ⁣⁣ @elitecounselling ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Black and WOC parenting accounts ⁣⁣ @themompsychologist ⁣⁣ @dr.annlouise.lockhart ⁣⁣ @kidsrcapable ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Black and WOC mental health practitioners ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ @nedratawwab⁣⁣ @blackandembodied⁣⁣ @annodright⁣⁣ @decolonizingtherapy⁣⁣ @askdrjess⁣⁣ @therapyforblackgirls by @hellodrjoy⁣⁣ @dr.marielbuque @dr.thema Black and WOC parenting accounts @themompsychologist @dr.annlouise.lockhart @kidsrcapable

A post shared by Chasity | Motherhood (@momfully.you) on

Chasity told Scary Mommy that the graphic is important because it “gives a visual representation of what it’s like to raise a Black child. All of the worries, the extra steps of protecting their physical, emotional, and social well-being, and the duty to raise them to love their skin despite the ever-present racism in the world.” She added, “It is a heavy load. [. . .] this graphic gave a voice and validation that we see the invisible load and an invitation for other mothers to see it too.”

Erica invited Chasity to be part of the invisible motherhood series after having her own experiences craving an anti-racism world for her own biracial sons. As a professional, she bore witness to many challenges that Black, indigenous, and women of color face when giving birth and in motherhood. She told Scary Mommy, “The unique challenges that BIPOC face in their birthing experiences have been widely documented, but something that many of us white women are completely unaware of.” She wanted to highlight some of the specific challenges that these mothers face, raising awareness.

Chasity reminds us that those who parent Black children “have no choice but to teach our children about racism. It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when.” Talking to Black children is “hard and difficult, but non-negotiable.” She said that though her children are too young to understand “the talk,” she dreads the day that conversation begins. She told Scary Mommy, “I have to explain to them why some people won’t like them just because they have more melanin in their skin or how to respond to racist comments or how to value their worth in a world that does not.”

Erica shared, “I had no idea when becoming a (white) mother to black children that I would be discussing topics like racism and bias at such a young age. As a white woman raised in a white household I NEVER had conversations about my race or being treated a different because of the color of my skin.” She added, “Mothering black children doesn’t afford you the privilege to keep your head in the sand and act like racism is a thing of the past.”

The graphics that Erica co-creates and shares have deeply resonated with me. I’m a mom of four children, all of whom are Black. Like Erica, I’m a white woman raised in a white household. I have never been followed by a police or security officer, and my intentions or purpose (such as in a store) have never been questioned. I have had white privilege my entire life, but my children do not. As my kids have gotten older, we’ve had more and more talks about racism and the rules in which we have in place to keep our children safe. We do this with the help of racial role models, since we, as the parents, don’t have the experiences to share with our children.

Erica’s work not only raises awareness, but she’s pulling up more chairs to the table and handing the mic over to moms of color, including Chasity. The series is not only educating — it’s building camaraderie among moms who have never met one another but can take their education and share it within their own mom communities.

Erica also recently partnered with Dr. Angel Montfort, a psychologist and mother of four, to create a self-care list for Black mothers. Some of their suggestions include limiting news and social media, learning from other Black mothers and building community with them, and giving themselves permission to accept what they are feeling.

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⁣Self care is not selfish– It is essential! ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Particularly right now! ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Self care is protective and necessary. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Giving of yourself to others and participating in activism is a beautiful thing, and it requires that we take time to replenish and restore so that we can rise again/return to the fight/show up in a meaningful way.⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Co-created with @_happyasamother LIST OF SELF CARE IDEAS:⁣⠀ 〰️ Journal⁣⠀ 〰️ Create⁣⠀ 〰️ Engage in prayer/spiritual practices⁣⠀ 〰️ Have conversations with black friends⁣⠀ 〰️Talk to black mentors⁣⠀ 〰️ Build community with other black mothers ⁣⠀ 〰️ Go outside – fresh air- get in touch with nature⁣⠀ 〰️ Spend quality time with your children – affirm them⁣⠀ 〰️ Practice acceptance around the things I cannot change (ie. I cannot protect them entirely from this world)⁣⠀ 〰️ Consume black art, cinema, literature – seek out black excellence⁣⠀ 〰️ Attend to your physical health needs (taking medication as needed, personal hygiene, etc.)⁣⠀ 〰️ Laugh out loud⁣⠀ 〰️ Follow social media accounts that are uplifting and affirming⁣⠀ 〰️ Unfollow accounts that dim your mood or invalidate your experience⁣⠀ 〰️ Limit social media/news media consumption⁣⠀ 〰️ Use your voice to set boundaries with others about which conversations you engage in or microaggressions that you witness⁣⠀ 〰️ Utilize essential oils and aromatherapy for stress relief⁣⠀ 〰️ Practice gratitude when possible⁣⠀ 〰️ Meditate ⁣⠀ 〰️ practice mindfulness⁣⠀ 〰️ Engage in physical exercise ⁣⠀ 〰️ Eat at least 3x/day ⁣⠀ 〰️ Drink water⁣⠀ 〰️ Sleep for at least a 4-hour stretch ⁣⠀ 〰️ Get restorative rest⁣⠀ 〰️ Do something you enjoy ⠀ 〰️ Listen to music that soothes you 〰️ Give yourself permission to feel your feelings⁣⠀ 〰️ Process your feelings with a therapist⁣⠀ 〰️ Ask for help with your children so that you can do something listed above⠀ ⠀ Sending you love 🤍 PS, Please tag & credit @_happyasamother and myself @drangelmontfort when sharing ☺️

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Erica asks fellow white moms to be empathizers when a mom of color shares her experience. First, white moms need to realize that they have unconscious biases and we need to “disarm our defenses or our need to compare experiences” with another mom. We also have to stop minimizing or invalidating that mom’s experience. The best things we can do are listen and learn.

“I think moms are at their best when they sincerely support one another despite the difference of life experience,” Chasity said. “When moms extend compassion and support with judgement or fear of vulnerability, the product is healing.” She encourages us to listen and validate the other’s experience “without defense or rebuttal.”

Ultimately, she believes that when moms come together, they can change the world. We couldn’t agree more.