I’ve long since realized that, as a person whom identifies as a woman, I am inherently subjected to the opinions of everyone and their momma. Women are classified by and for the benefit of everything imaginable, except themselves. That simple but powerful identity fact, only gets exaggerated for women who become mothers. The whole damn world has an opinion, about how you should raise your child(ren).
I realized this phenomena about motherhood policing at a young age, long before I understood what it meant to be seen and perpetuated as a “woman” in this society. Now that I have evolved enough as a person, woman and now, a new mother, I can see the correlation between lacking autonomy and womanhood. Between lack of policing and motherhood. And boy, is it fugly?!?!
Suddenly, I have found myself involuntarily flung into an ocean of opinions, thoughts, “suggestions, “advice,” and just downright condescension, all due to the mercy of becoming a mother. From people of all backgrounds. Most especially though, people without children, people who don’t identify as a woman and mothers, who are visibly disgruntled about their own motherhood experiences and/ or decisions (past or present).
I did my best to prepare for this, while still being pregnant. As I learned from my adolescent experience of watching my sister move through her own motherhood journey; and realized from being “openly” pregnant three times before, that people had opinions for days about parenthood. Particularly, parenthood operated by mothers and womenfolks.
Moreover, I had long since learned that such opinions begin being forced on you, as soon as people know and/ or can visibly “see” that you’re pregnant. Nonetheless, with an attitude and mouth like mine, no amount of preparation would or could, be enough for this level of facially neutral disrespect. This too, I also knew.
In any regard, I finally reached my wit’s end with people’s verbal and/ or visual display of opinions toward my motherhood, last week. I’d taken Kammy to the library, and she got hungry. For reasons that I’m not in the mood to discuss right now, I began feeding her in the library, without a cover. Immediately, the stares began. As usual, it was particularly from other moms, who were White. After months of just taking it, I decided to vent on Facebook and Instagram.
If you’ve been with the EverythingShaquana movement for a while now, you know that my entire premise for this here blog, and my entire spiritual journey, is based on self-definition in every sense of the term! So, people telling me what to do, how to do, or why/ when/ where to do me, let alone motherhood, doesn’t sit well with the God in me. To say the very least.
It doesn’t go without mentioning that, my spiritual third eye doesn’t exempt judgmental vibes, stares and energies from other people, from the list of opinions that I have no patience or tolerance for! Like, I just can’t! Or rather, I won’t!
I’m just not for people staring at me or my child, albeit because of my fashion choice, my choice of child transportation (I.e a baby carrier), feeding (I.e. Breastfeeding; particularly, uncovered), or coping discipline (I.e. My choice to let her cry and/ or not to, by rocking/ singing/ playing with her to keep her from crying).
In truth, I have no idea why people stare! And I don’t care to know! Just say hi, give a compliment or keep it moving! Staring and not speaking, is plain rude! If you’re silently staring at my child, it borders reason for spiritual discomfort, to say the very least. I’m just saying.
My decision to vent on social media, prompted by my desire to embrace my discomfort and frustration over the stares (which I’ve been getting since Kammy was born- whether I’m feeding her, covered or not), led to even further policing.
My cousin decided to jump on my photo comments, to openly scold me. This being the second time a blood relative decided it was a good idea, to openly scold me on my Facebook for posting a breastfeeding photo, I had to say something! Because I am my own person. And my person, is my own. My being a new mother, doesn’t change that fact. Instead, it amplifies its inherent Truth.
“A person who identifies as a man, cannot logically provide an in-depth understanding of how, what or who it takes to be a person, who identifies as a woman.” – Shaquana Gardner
In the same way that I do not believe a person who is White, can articulate and thus, can not save the state of Black people. And the same way, that I do not believe a person who identifies as a man, can articulate and thus, can not save the state of women. And the same way, that I do not believe a person who identifies as wealthy or even, middle class, can articulate, and thus can not save the state of poor people.
I believe such is the same for motherhood. A person who is not a mother, can not articulate, and thus, can not save the state of mothers.
When those identities intersect onto one another, creating the complex reality of a person who identifies as Black, woman, poor and mother, the inability of a person who does not represent any or all of those groups, to tell the story of one who does, is glaring!
Moreover, a person who does represent all of those groups, should very well understand the necessity of minding your own damn business. As, coming from so many overlapping marginalized groups, gives one a special insight on the personal experience of the social policing of one’s body, thoughts or lifestyle.
I believe wholeheartedly, that it takes a village to raise a child. The same way, that I believe there is a world of difference between a village and a country. If I don’t know you, let alone like or respect you and your opinion/ thoughts, it’s safe to assume that you’re not apart of my and my child’s village. If you don’t know whether I like you and/ or respect you and your opinions/ thoughts, you’re also not apart of my and my child’s village.
To say the least, if you’re not apart of our village, and thus, not investing in our will to flourish as mother and child, individuals and/ or children of God, your opinion is null and void. In other words, mind your own damn business.
Below, is an unedited copy of the original Instagram/ Facebook post, and my comment response to being “scolded.” I’ll let them speak for themselves. A’se!
At the library with Princess K, and the death stares these other (White) moms are giving me for breastfeeding (or maybe, just for being alive… Not sure at this point 🤔) are WILD!
Maybe it’s cuz I’m without a cover, and my big Black boob is unapologetically giving my chile life… Or maybe it’s the jewelry, locs, #UnapologeticallyBlack combo, I got going… Or that my Beautiful Brown Baby Doll is just so darn adoowable??
Idk! But them being mad, is just making me flex EVEN more! You betta ask somebody 💪🏾👊🏾👌🏾😎😆😝😜💯💯!!
#EverythingShaquana #WCW #BlackWomenDoBreastfeed #BWDBF #UnapologeticallyBlack #BlackGirlMagic #Locs #LocQueen #NaturalJourney #LocJourney #NaturalHair #NaturalHairDontCare #BrownSkinBeauty #BlackMoms #Love #Light #Live
Thank YOU soooo much for the Loving supports, sistars 😌☺️🤗😘❤️❤️!!! I think it’s a damn shame that people find so much time trying to police ANOTHER person’s body!
Or that’s, despite the very REAL fact that Black women breastfed slave master’s babies for hundreds of years (while their own we’re beat, slaughtered and sold) WITHOUT a cover, that I would be looked at with disgust for doing the same for my OWN child! It’s White privilege and patriarchy at its best!
And to then get on my OWN Facebook, looking to share my Truth in my OWN safe place, and find more attempts to be policed (as if I’m not a grown ass woman, with a grown ass mind and will to defend it), is tragic! That’s male privilege and patriarchy at its best!
It doesn’t go without saying that, THIS is exactly why I breastfeed, uncovered unapologetically and why I posted this photo! Because until ppl are comfortable with seeing women’s bodies, Black women’s bodies and particularly POOR Black women’s bodies being used for what God TRULY intended them to be used for, this is necessary!
My body is my OWN! And my boobs are not somethings to lust over or police, but to nourish and nurture my Princess! That’s the norm! And until ppl see that, I see very clearly now, that I must KEEP doing this AND apparently posting it! Because DUH!