While it’s totally awesome that a bunch of fabulous moms from Portland are in the national spotlight for joining the Black Lives Matters protests last week, we need to remember something really important. Moms, especially Black mothers, have been harnessing their collective mama bear powers to champion social causes for a long ass time. Whether it’s the fight against gun violence, Black maternal mortality rates, or the current child detention crisis, matriarch superstars across the country mobilize regularly for social justice like superheroes swooping in to help someone in jeopardy.
There’s been some push back on social media about whether or not claiming the “mom” title while walking in our activist shoes helps us or hurts us on the road to gender and racial equality. I totally get that, since women still experience wage gaps, lack of adequate maternity leave, societal pressure up the wazoo, an ever present racial divide, ridiculously outdated gender roles, and the constant demand to be of service to everyone around us. But I also think we have more than enough room in this world to let the women who choose motherhood both affirm that role whenever desired, and also be seen as so much more than moms. Because being a woman is already kick-ass all on its own. And being a mother is just an added layer of female badassery.
Below, enjoy all the other shit moms have been getting done before they built a human shield for protesters in Portland.
Established in 2015 by Tamar Manasseh, MASK has one main goal — to help end violence and crime on the streets. What started out as a group of awesome moms and human beings joining together for community building became a powerful movement that not only keeps a watchful eye on neighborhoods at risk, but also ensures that food security and adequate housing are issues of public focus.
Led by some absolutely powerful Black mothers and women, this organization works to advocate for the Black maternal health crisis through policy change, cultivated research, comprehensive care, and shifting the cultural narrative for Black moms. Since Black women are dying at three to four times the rate of white women, we need Black Mamas Matter Alliance now more than ever.
MADD has been around since 1980, and its groundbreaking mission has been clear from the start — to end drunk and drugged driving by supporting victims and preventing underage drinking. This organization has offices in every state, has been invaluable in helping change the national conversation around drunk driving, and is the largest nonprofit of its kind.
The idea for PFLAG was conceived in 1972 when Jeanne Manford marched with her son in New York’s Christopher Street Liberation Day March, an event that ultimately became our nation’s annual Pride parade. Manford was approached by so many members of the LGBTQ+ community during the march that she decided to start a support group. PFLAG has now grown into the United States’ first and largest organization that unites parents, families, and allies with LGBTQ+ individuals. Their Chapter Network also consists of over 400 chapters across the country and provides confidential peer support, education, and advocacy to LGBTQ+ people, as well as their parents and families.
Founded by a handful of awesome mama bears, this organization educates the public about policy issues for women and mothers and takes grassroots action to hold corporations accountable for standards like equal pay, paid family and medical leave, paid sick days, and breastfeeding rights. They’re also working on some other fantastic campaigns, which you can check out here.
Collette Flanagan founded MAPB after her son, Clinton Allen, was shot to death while unarmed by a Dallas police officer. As a former IBM executive, Collette Flanagan had the skillset to turn MAPB into an inter-generational, multi-ethnic, multicultural organization with both a local and national presence that unites mothers nationwide to fight for police accountability, policy reform, and civil rights.
This violence prevention, education, and intervention-based organization founded by Dr. Dorothy Johnson-Speight advocates and supports the youth, young adults, and families of communities affected by violence. These moms also collaborate with elected officials, community leaders, and other community and faith-based organizations on legislation and solutions to make neighborhoods safer for children and families.
In 2014, Liz Dyer wanted to start a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ+ kids to provide support and inspire them to help make the world a kinder, safer, more supportive place for all LGBTQ+ people. Along with her jam-packed group of loving mama bears, Dyer has gone above and beyond with her mission to educate, comfort, and empower members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community.
Glennon Doyle is already a badass mom who’s done TED Talks, written heart-opening books, and uplifts the rest of us regularly on social media. She’s taken it up a notch with Together Rising, which connects people with organizations who are effectively addressing critical social needs in communities. Most recently, her nonprofit raised $2,700,000 to activate an emergency response and long-term legal accountability for the child detention crisis.
Mother of five Shannon Watts founded one hell of a grassroots movement that fights for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence. With a chapter in every single state, Moms Demand Action takes solid action to pass stronger gun laws, and works in local communities and with business leaders to encourage responsible gun ownership.
Through training, policy advocacy, research, and community-centered collaboration, NBEC is helping to ensure necessary change in the realm of Black maternal and infant health. Founder and president Joia Adele Crear-Perry is well versed in this field, since she’s not only a mother-of-three, but also a Black educator, speaker, policy expert, and activist.
It’s no surprise that this list is as extensive as the mental motherload itself. And it just goes to show you what happens when moms get involved in just about anything: shit gets fucking done.