The Longest Shortest Time

EPISODE #85: Dispatches from Black Motherhood

Anthonia Akitunde is the daughter of Nigerian immigrants. Like a lot of first generation kids, her parents pushed her to succeed. And she did. She became an editor for The Huffington Post, and writer for places like The New York Times, Fast Company, and The Root.

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Four years ago, Anthonia started to think about her eventual future as a mother. And that future included a vibrant career. She couldn’t image how she’d ever balance the two. All of the books and articles and websites she could find on the subject of work and motherhood seemed to be by white women. (Think Sheryl Sandberg and Anne-Marie Slaughter.) Anthonia was like, Well, if I can’t find what I’m looking for, I’ll just start it.

Anthonia launched her website mater mea, by interviewing her Black working mom heroes like the poet and LGBT rights activist Staceyann Chin, the stylist and model Mengly Hernandez (top image), and the artist Wangechi Mutu (below).

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The interviews are all accompanied by gorgeous photography of the women in their work environments, as well as with their children.

Wangechi Mutu with her daughter Neema

Wangechi Mutu with her daughter Neema

At the time, Anthonia didn’t quite realize how revolutionary this was—to have beautifully shot photographs on the internet of Black moms just doing plain old mom things.

Educator Takiema Bunche-Smith with her son Na'im

Educator Takiema Bunche-Smith with her son Na’im

TV personality Timberly Whitfield with her children Raina and Gabriel

TV personality Timberly Whitfield with her children Raina and Gabriel

On mater mea, Anthonia shows you all the touching, emotional, inspiring stuff going on in the lives of Black moms. But she also covers the tough stuff. In today’s episode, we’ll hear from the moms pictured above about how they’ve talked to their kids about racism and police brutality. And one mom (below) will talk about the extraordinary lengths she’s taken to keep her son safe.

School psychologist Elmeka Henderson with her son Chris

School psychologist Elmeka Henderson with her son Chris

Anthonia will also talk about her engagement to a white Jewish guy, and her thoughts about raising interracial kids someday.

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Also, check out:
mater mea’s new podcast. And this video with Black mothers about how their children are viewed by society.

Visuals and video: Sekiya Dorsett

How have you talked to YOUR kids about racism?
Or tell us anything at all about this episode that resonated with you. Comment, please!

mater mea photos: J. Quazi King; Anthonia headshot: Raydene Salinas; Elmeka Henderson photo: Adachi Pimentel

Our sponsors for this episode are Amazon Kindle, Alarm.com (code: COOL16),  Owlet (code: PARENTING), and Icon Undies (code: LONGSHORT) Use the promo codes at checkout for a special discount.