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Real Talk: On Debra Harrell’s Arrest, Motherhood & Race

Real Talk: On Debra Harrell's Arrest, Motherhood & Race

In last week’s Mommie Dearest column, I wrote about Debra Harrell, a South Carolina mother who was arrested for “abandoning” her nine-year-old daughter at a park while she worked at a nearby McDonald’s. (Just yesterday we learned that Harrell has been let go from her job.) I had mentioned in my post that Harrell is Black, prompting a few folks to ask why I needed to note her race. Instead of penning my own response, I thought it would be a good idea to hear from women of color who are mothers. We gathered for a virtual roundtable to discuss Harrell’s situation and  explorehow race impacts motherhood in the United States today. Meet:

Our conversation begins after the jump: Keep reading »

Mommie Dearest: Mother Arrested For Leaving 9-Year-Old At The Park While She Went To Work

Mommie Dearest: Mother Arrested For Leaving 9-Year-Old At The Park While She Went To Work

Another day, another mother arrested for trying to have it all. And by “have it all,” I mean struggling to figure out child care with little support while maintaining a minimum wage food-service industry job.

A 46-year-old Black mother from South Carolina was jailed for letting her nine-year old daughter play at the park unsupervised while she went to work. Let’s look at the facts, as detailed by Free Range Kids’ Lenore Skenazy:

  1. Debra Harrell works at a McDonald’s in North Augusta, South Carolina.
  2. Her nine-year-old daughter had been accompanying her to work for most of the summer, bringing along a laptop and using McD’s free wifi to keep her busy while Harrell worked her shift.
  3. Harrell’s home was recently robbed and the laptop was stolen, causing her daughter to request being dropped off at a local park.
  4. Harrell’s daughter was given a cell phone to call her in case she needed anything.
  5. On her third day at the park by herself, a stranger questioned Harrell’s daughter  about her mother’s whereabouts, called the police, and subsequently, Harrell was arrested on abandonment charges.

Keep reading »

Mommie Dearest: Are We Now In The Age Of DIY Abortions?

MD-diy-abortion

I was a freshman in college when I found myself Googling “can Vitamin C induce your period?” There had been some condom-less sex and, surprise surprise, worries over a late period. I wasn’t about to head to my university’s health care office, which offered a Band-Aid and some Tylenol for pretty much every malady. I may not have known what could have helped me out, but I knew that neither a Band-Aid nor headache reducer was the answer. And so, I turned to Dr. Google and was immediately overwhelmed by all the results that showed up.

I had no idea which links were legitimate and which could have landed me in serious trouble. In the end, I did take a huge dose of Vitamin C and my period arrived shortly after. Whether it was due to coincidence (probably) or not, I’ll never know. Now I’m older, a bit wiser, and have an IUD firmly placed in my uterus to prevent any unplanned pregnancies. Yet, with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby, I can’t help but wonder if more people may now find themselves in the same situation as I did almost 15 years ago. Keep reading »

Mommie Dearest: Motherhood Is Not For Everyone And At Least Cameron Diaz Realizes It

cameron diaz

Motherhood — it’s not for everyone. Yet we live in a society that pushes it as the one path of femininity and womanhood above all. For women who choose not to head down that road, they’re usually subjected to all sorts of invasive questioning, unsolicited advice, and are generally made to feel as if they’re making a mistake by not having children. To be clear, I’m not talking about women who want to have children but haven’t found themselves in a space to do so, but rather the women who — for their own personal, valid reasons — have chosen not to procreate and raise kids. Women like actress Cameron Diaz.

Diaz has spoken previously in the past about not wanting to have children, but in a recent interview with Esquire, she laid it all out there in a way I really respect: Keep reading »

Mommie Dearest: Can 7-Year-Olds Be Assholes? You Bet — But That Doesn’t Mean Brandi Glanville Should Say It

Brandi Glanville

Can seven-year olds be assholes? You bet.

Do parents sometimes talk about how their kids can be total assholes with their friends? Most likely.

Should parents — especially those with a decent-size platform — talk publicly about how their kids are huge assholes? Of course not.

But that’s exactly what “Real Housewife” Brandi Glanville did, and she’s not sorry at all. Keep reading »

Mommie Dearest: Meet The #FreeTheNipple Activist Who Wants Areolas To Be Free

Mommie Dearest: Meet The #FreeTheNipple Activist Who Wants Areolas To Be Free

In 2011, actress and filmmaker Lina Esco went with a handful of friends to Occupy Wall Street, curious to see the response to a group of topless women.

“Within minutes there were hundreds of people taking pictures, and they didn’t know what to do with these boobs,” Esco told The Frisky. “After 10 minutes, I said to them, ‘[Our nipples are] not going anywhere, so let’s have a conversation.’ And we did. And I realized that the conversation was only getting bigger, and the nipple was this Trojan Horse that was going to reveal so many things. And I knew I had to do this film.”

The film she is referring to is called “Free The Nipple,”  which addresses the societal aversion to women’s nipples. After her Occupy Wall Street experience, Esco immediately came home and started working on a script; she found herself eager to explore why women’s bodies were subject to a whole different set of rules and norms than the bodies of men. By mid-2012, she had raised enough money and started filming in New York City with Zach Grenier from “Law & Order” and “The Good Wife” and Lola Kirke, sister of “Girls” star Jemima. Despite the fact that going topless in New York is legal (as opposed to the 35 states where it is illegal for women to be topless) filming shut down by police. Keep reading »

Mommie Dearest: Mom Breastfeeds At College Graduation, Heads Explode

MD-graduate-breastfeed

Sigh. Here we go again.

People are currently in an uproar over a photo of a mother breastfeeding her daughter taken while at her college graduation. 25-year-old Karlesha Thurman posted the photo to the Black Women Do Breastfeed Facebook page, which reposted it for her, and it quickly went viral. Many people were shocked and appalled at what they saw.

Here’s what I saw. I saw a woman who managed to make it through an undergrad program with a young baby and still managed to figure out a way to breastfeed. I saw a woman who is also a mom and a student doing her thing and being proud of it. I saw someone normalizing something that should already be seen as “normal” in our society, but sadly isn’t. Keep reading »

Mommie Dearest: Tales Of An American Mom Traveling Abroad

Mommie Dearest: Tales Of An American Mom Traveling Abroad

I’ve been out of the country for the past two weeks, spending almost the entirety of that time in Israel. Along the way, I’ve learned some interesting things about taking an extended global trip while parenting.

Contrary to what you might think, there are some pretty sweet perks to traveling with a child. I made the trip out to Israel with just my son and while there are some challenges traveling as a solo parent, I also noticed some up sides. People tended to treat us with more patience and kindness then when I travel solo (and I do, often). We bypassed regular TSA security to go in the fast lane, where shoes blissfully remain on and you don’t need to take out laptops or toiletries. We were also allowed to board first if we wanted to, we got meals served to us earlier, and there were more smiles and less scowls from airline employees —  although perhaps this is just an Air France thing? They were pushing the free booze … Keep reading »

Mommie Dearest: How Moms Talk About Their Bodies Matters

Mommie Dearest: How Moms Talk About Their Bodies Matters
Bikini Body Truths
Bikini Body
Six "bikini body" truths to remember this summer. Read More »

We’re on the cusp of “bikini season,” if magazines in the grocery shore checkout line are to be believed. I’m sure you’re familiar with the wide variety of products — ones that remove hair, ones that firm up jiggly thighs, ones that promise to burn stomach fat — which supposedly get a body ready for a teensy two-piece.

Want to know my secret for getting a bikini body? Buy a bikini. Put it on. Voila.

But, we don’t live in a society that allows people to just put on a bathing suit and not think twice about it. Instead, we live in a time and space where we are inundated with messages of what the “right” type of body looks like. I felt and absorbed those messages growing up, and that was before the 24/7 barrage of media via the Internet. I remember going through my tween and teen years, always giving a second or third glance in the mirror. I never felt 100 percent comfortable in my skin. Keep reading »

The Soapbox: Why Macklemore’s Costume Matters

SB-macklemore

Last Friday, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed a surprise music concert at the Experience Music Project Museum in Seattle. Awesome, right? Only, because it was a surprise, Macklemore wanted to go a bit incognito and donned a costume. But the costume was anything but awesome. To me, and many others, the costume looked like a negative stereotype of a Jewish man.

For his part, Macklemore denies that he purposefully intended to mock Jewish people with his costume. Late yesterday, he took to Tumblr to issue an apology.

“My intention was to dress up and surprise the people at the show with a random costume and nothing more. Thus, it was surprising and disappointing that the images of a disguise were sensationalized leading to the immediate assertion that my costume was anti-Semetic. I acknowledge how the costume could, within a context of stereotyping, be ascribed to a Jewish caricature. I am here to say that it was absolutely not my intention, and unfortunately at the time I did not foresee the costume to be viewed in such regard. [...] I truly apologize to anybody that I may have offended.”

Keep reading »

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