What is a baby mother? The mother of one or more of a man’s children, who is not his wife or current partner.
Candace Brathwaite, author, journalist and influencer, writes about her experience of being a black British mother in her memoir I am not your mother baby mother, and how she made it clear to her partner Bode why she was not going to be a baby mother.
I knew I would like this book, as it is similarly written in a style like Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love and How to Fail by Elizabeth Day: both which are my favourites, and Brathwaite joins them!
She is an influencer who shows black families don’t just survive, but thrive!
I’d heard a lot of great things about this book, and my goodness I was not disappointed. Like many, I will never realise how lucky I am to be a white, middle class woman as I have not known any different.
Brathwaite uses her platform and this book to describe her experience of being a black British mother, where she explains black culture and community, and things that are just done (or not) and spoken about (or not). Abortion is one of them. She was adamant she would not be a baby mother, instead opting for a termination when she first discovered she was pregnant at a young age.
When she later met her partner Bode and became pregnant again, she carried through and made it clear she was not doing this alone. So much so then ended up having a son and a daughter: each who would go on to experience very differently what it would mean to be a black child.
Throughout her memoir, I was gripped as Brathwaite thoroughly explained her dealings with racism, ignorance and microaggressions, including when she was in hospital. She provided facts from government sources that black women are more likely to die in childbirth in UK hospitals than white mothers. This is astoundingly bad. As a result of their treatment, she ended up very ill when they refused to acknowledge that she was unwell after the birth of her child.
I learned even more about black culture as she shared that once you are earning a full wage and still living with your family, you are expected to pay half of your wage to them. Furthermore, she explained black culture does not really see mental health as a ‘real’ issue which surprised me. It is rarely talked about.
Parents have to think long and hard beforehand about the name of their child so they aren’t judged when their CV is handed in for jobs when they’re older: ‘African sounding’ names are more likely to be disregarded for jobs before any interview process has begun…
It is a sad, yet honest telling of her experience of bringing children into the world, especially as mine has been so open and warm. I’ve been very lucky. And I really enjoyed school.
I can’t even begin to think the rage Brathwaite had to compress when her daughter was racially discriminated against by another child who didn’t want to play with her because of the colour of her skin. What a disgusting thing to experience.
This is an example of how we are all taught such things. Otherwise that child would surely have welcomed Brathwaite’s daughter in the playground openly.
Despite being working class, Brathwaite managed to get her influencer career off the ground and went to great lengths to protect her daughter to make sure she didn’t experience such an incident again, by putting her into a private school.
She also touched upon Black Lives Matter which sits in my mind every week, where I make a conscious effort to make sure I am doing more to bring attention to the matter by having conversations, reading more diversely and addressing ignorance. For example, I still have debates with my family about such issues i.e. BLM, although this can be very infuriating, which shows there is still a way to go.
Black Lives Matter: it isn’t to say black lives and more important than others, it’s that for as long as history has existed, embedded with its colonialism and slavery as big examples, it is to raise awareness and increase the profile of the black community who are not getting listened to. ‘All Lives Matter’ doesn’t address the issues of black people. This is a common ignorance that needs to be addressed which sadly some people don’t want to listen to, nor understand.
I loved this book, yet I may anger people with my views and judgement from topics like these as people don’t want to address them.
I implore more people to expand their readings and understanding of black culture, as they are subjected to it every day in the whiteness we enforce on them.
Times continue to change. Let’s continue making progress.
Rating – 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Genre – Autobiography