Have daily check-ins with your town’s mom group felt a bit sour lately? Gone are the days of supporting local clothing drives, buying random shit off someone’s curb, or giving a recommendation for the only person you let near your brows. Yes, it is sad to say, but the support-filled posts of yesteryear are no more. What once was a happy, cozy safe space where “moms support moms” is now likely riddled with debates over face masks, herd immunity, and your state’s elected officials. More concerningly, however, have been the deeply disturbing posts following the death of George Floyd. My experience has been an alarming cocktail of ulcer-inducing behavior, all of which has been spewed by, you guessed it: white women.
I live in an upper-middle-class town in Bergen County, New Jersey that’s been pretty well-known for its growing diversity over the years – something that was definitely a draw for my family and me when searching for our forever home. Raising a little curly-haired North African Muslim girl in Trump’s America has given me lots of anxiety for so many reasons, but mostly because it makes me question every interaction I have with white strangers, especially members of our community; people whose children would likely be so integral to who my daughter would become. After several years of closely monitoring the crowd, it felt pretty good! People were nice and waved to us on our walks! We chat with our neighbors! It has been true suburban housewife bliss! But, alas, a big fat racist plot twist.
After I created a mom group specifically for women of color in response to the racism happening in the General Mom Group (GMG), moms in the General Mom Group complained that if they created a group for white women, it would be considered racist; FYI Karen, AMERICA IS A GROUP FOR WHITE WOMEN.
The protests and calls around the nation for police reform, social justice, and equality were just too much for some to endure. One mom called protestors “stupid morons” while others bitched and moaned about the traffic local rallies were causing. Comment after comment, post after post, took a metaphorical shit on the opinions and concerns of women of color. In response to the hostility, I created a group to support and uplift the women of color in our town. I made it clear that all were welcome, should they feel empowered to learn, listen, and engage on issues WOC experience every day. For one week, it was better than heaven. So many delicious, feel-good conversations from all of our members. But just days after the group was created, a post was shared on general mom’s group (let’s call it GMG) asking why a WOC group was even a thing – that the GMG was a space for ALL to unite. It was followed by lots of sweet-looking white women telling us as women of color that racism is not a thing while failing to acknowledge that their erasure and silencing of our lived experiences is racism. That our disdain for Trump supporters was the same thing as being a racist bigot. That women of color are not marginalized. That if they created a group for white women, it would be considered racist; FYI Karen, AMERICA IS A GROUP FOR WHITE WOMEN. That someone’s white daughter got bullied in her mostly Asian honors class. That OUR GROUP was uncomfortable for them. Such is the storyline for women of color, right? We must meld and mold ourselves to fit the narrative of our peers, colleagues, friends, and society. We must alter our voices, change our hair, and hide our opinions to make sure we don’t offend others. For me, that storyline ended a long time ago.
The moms in GMG have called me “crazy” and told me that I “yap,” but I haven’t let that stop me from letting my voice be heard. I’ve been told that I’m causing a divide, but we all know that divide was there long before me. People of color have endured centuries of systemic racism, bigotry, colonization, and white supremacy at the hands of the oppressors. Your mom group might not be safe anymore, but make space for yourself and others like you to thrive. Stand your ground. Defend your people. We must do more. We must do better.