Showing posts with label ethnicity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ethnicity. Show all posts

Study Examines Moms by Race

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I could sing the praises of Maria Bailey and her team at BSM Media for, oh, about a week. I have learned so much from Maria and really look up to her personally and professionally. I was beyond flattered when she asked me to participate in a research project focusing on the values of moms of different races.

BSM sent out the press release of the findings last week (below and in PDF form here). I really hope companies, advertisers and media pay attention to the findings. This past Tuesday really was (IMHO) the beginning of a new era and a new social consciousness. Newspapers, magazines, radio, television and any other media need to be prepared for the shift in demographics I believe will be coming.

One of my comments to Maria was that, because of our new President and First Lady (squee!), there may be people of different ethnicities and backgrounds participating in media they never would have before. A grandmother who has never read the USA Today may pick it up because Obama is on the cover. A mother may buy an issue of a magazine she's never read before because of an article on the First Lady.

I'm considering subscribing to Time or Newsweek because I really want to be more active and knowledgeable politically than I was before.

I really do believe the demographics are going to change and I hope companies and the media are prepared to make sure they are reaching this new audience.

FT. LAUDERDALE (JANUARY 13, 2009) – When it comes to motherhood, nothing is black and white. As we usher in the inauguration of our first African American President, a new study examines the behaviors and values of mothers across racial lines. The research shows that while all mothers are battling with the growing concerns facing our nation, some of a mother’s coping strategies and motivations are tied to her culture and ethnic background.

The research was conducted by BSM Media,, a leading marketing to moms firm led by Maria Bailey, author of “Mom 3.0: Marketing With Today’s Mothers by Leveraging New Media and Technology”.

“Moms share universal concerns for their children,” says Maria Bailey, CEO of BSM Media. “It is clear, however, that the way she reacts to the economy, rising food costs and the dreams she has for her children is impacted by her personal experiences, upbringing and ethnic background.”

BSM Media partnered with several prominent African American mom bloggers to field the research: Jennifer James, editor of Mommy Too! Magazine (, Melanie Sheridan from Mel, A Dramatic Mommy (, Kimberly Coleman from Mom in the City (, and Michele Dortch, The Integrated Mother (

“Identifying the specific needs of African American Moms is timely,” said Melanie Sheridan from Mel, A Dramatic Mommy, “Companies and media need to be more culturally aware and prepared for the expanded audiences recent historic events may bring their way.”

Key Findings of the study include:

· Although the majority of all moms have made household adjustments to cope with the economic crisis, African American moms are more likely to delay major purchases (57%) and avoid stores to reduce shopping (54%). Caucasian moms are coping by using coupons and discount codes (73%) and driving fewer places to conserve gas (62%).

“It takes a lot of time and concerted effort to use coupons effectively and save money, and time is something that many African American moms don’t have”, says Jennifer James, editor of Mommy Too! Magazine (, “In addition, many of the manufacturer coupons found in the newspaper are not found in the retail locations in urban communities and if they are, many African American moms opt to purchase lower cost generic brands which usually don’t issue coupons.”

· African American moms are more likely to turn to clergy for support (60%) than Caucasian moms (41%). Other popular support outlets among both races included spouses, parents and other moms.

· Although moms across racial lines ranked education as their greatest dream for their children, African American moms are more likely to aspire for their children to have a deep religious commitment as adults than Caucasian moms.

“For many of us, our faith has sustained us.” says Kimberly Coleman of Mom in the City,, in response to the importance of religion in the African American community.

· Caucasian moms named managing the desires of their children for material things as a challenge (45%), while African American moms are battling with affordable housing (35%).

· While online, African American mothers are more likely to read articles (68%) and experience music (45%). Caucasian mothers are likely to frequent social networks (45%) and message boards (43%).

“The results of BSM’s research confirm one very important fact - we may share a common bond as mothers, but each of us brings a unique approach to motherhood that must be recognized,” says Michele Dortch of The Integrated Mother.

Q & A: My Growing Up Years Part Three

Monday, May 26, 2008

Now for Steph's question:
"Was your family upset when you married your husband?"
Yes and no. There's lot's of backstory so bear with me.

(Homecoming Oct. 1990)

DH and I met in high school. (Which is a story in itself because he was SO not my type!) He was my first serious boyfriend. At 17, I think parents are going to be concerned about their daughter getting so serious so fast about anyone, regardless of color.

So, we started dating the summer between junior and senior year and were inseparable until I left for college. Even then we visited as often as we could.

I think my dad hoped that when I went away and was exposed to a much bigger world than my hometown, I would outgrow my "crush" and meet a nice young black man, preferably a Kappa, and live happily ever after.

He practically begged me to join a sorority so I went to a meeting but that
lifestyle just wasn't for me.

DH and I did break up for several years when he was stationed in Italy right out of boot camp. We dated other people, but none seriously. When DH returned from overseas, we pretty much fell right back into our relationship.

My father saw in DH an unmotivated, pothead surfer (true, except for the unmotivated part) who had no real ambition. DH didn't finish college. He joined the military instead. My dad's attitude was "only people who have to join the military join the military."

I, on the other hand, was proud that DH recognized that he was on a path to nowhere and took steps necessary to make something better of himself.

My mom has never had any real problems with DH other than how serious we were at 17. Her long time boyfriend is white, so she had no room to complain, though my father blamed her for "putting ideas in my head."

One time, my dad set me up with one of his co-workers' son (this was pre-DH).
Whom I'd never met. To go to prom. I was furious! But, I went along to make Dad happy and to get a new dress and shoes. I invited R over so at least we could lay eyes on one another before the dance.

That fool showed up at my house with no money, kept his ball cap on the whole time he was inside, didn't stand up to greet my mom when she came home and didn't offer to help her bring in the groceries! I never saw him again.

Anyway, DH and I resumed our relationship, he moved into my apartment and we lived together for 2 years before eloping getting married in 1998.

It's bothered DH that my dad didn't approve of us being together. I told him not to worry about pleasing my dad, that's not what he wants to see. Just continue to be a good person and he'll either come around or he won't.

It was a long time before Dad finally said he couldn't be upset with me for the choice I made as it was his and my mother's choice to move us away from the city, into an almost all white (at the time) neighborhood therefore severely limiting my options. That was a Halellujah! moment for me.

(Prom, May 1991)

And, as my father has watched my husband (literally) grow from a boy into a man, husband and father, he's come around. Dad said to my mom (which she relayed to me):

"Kids and animals are the best way to know if someone is a good person, and that little boy (DS) adores his father."

After the phone call I immediately ran to DH and said, "You're in! My Dad likes you now!" and there was much rejoicing.

Dad calls hubby son, which is HUGE. And when Daddy (yep, you heard me) took me to lunch a few weeks ago, he asked whether I was trying to talk DH into finishing college. I said no, I've tried but hubby's logic is that of all our friends who went to college, he's the one with best job and no student loans.

After a minute Dad says, "well, he's got a point, don't bitch at him about it," which is also HUGE because my dad is the poster boy for "everyone should go away to college to make something of themselves."

It's all good now. And I don't blame my dad. He has a right to his feelings. And they never really gave me any grief about it or made DH feel unwelcome or uncomfortable, which I appreciate.

And I wonder if I had backed down and broken up with DH, would they have respected me? After all, I learned from them how important it is to be your own person, to follow your heart and go for what you want.
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Q & A: My Growing Up Years Part Two

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'm liking this Q & A thing, mostly because I get to talk about myself, but I also like giving people something to think about. I'm still answering questions from the comments on my earlier posts here and here about my childhood, having a bi-racial family and my experiences with racism.

Steph asked:
"Was your family upset when you married your husband?"
Ahh, the husband questions! I thought that one would have come first! LOL! That one requires a long answer so I'll address MoFM first.

She said:
"My brother in law is black. he grew up in Long Beach, CA and then went to Stanford. Like you, he has been chastised by his relatives for acting "white." Not something that I understand, never having been a minority myself."
I can't honestly say I understand it completely myself. Within the black community, there is this idea that speaking, dressing or behaving in ways that have been associated with white culture somehow makes a person "less" black.

Unfortunately, the things that make someone "less" black are typically educational and/or economically based. The fact that I liked to read, made good grades, was articulate, moved away from black neighborhoods and had designer clothes made me (and therefore my parents) a "sell out." I'd "forgotten where I came from."

It's hard for me to see it as anything other than jealousy. It would be one thing if people chastised me for not celebrating Kwanzaa (which I don't though I know a little about the history) or not knowing some of the major historical events and figures of black culture.

But to say I've lost touch with "my roots" because I can effectively string a sentence together borders on the absurd. And I refuse to apologize for the fact that my family worked very hard to buy the house in the safe neighborhood with the good schools. My parents sacrificed to give me everything I have today. Isn't that what anyone wants to do for their children?

James C. Collier hosts a great blog addressing issues just like this, among others. This is a great post that clarifies the ideas behind "acting white" better than I can.

I found these great articles offering more perspective

Hopefully that helps a little. It's too bad that there is often so much strife within our own community. Our shared skin color, history and desire to make racism a thing of the past should be enough to keep everyone friendly and helpful toward one another, but I guess there are always going to be a few bad apples spoiling the bunch.

My relationship with my hubby and the ripples it caused within my family is another looong story that I think will have to wait until tomorrow so I can address it fully. Along with Eminem.

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Q & A: My Growing Up Years

So Steph has asked me to detail some of the painful experiences I had growing up as a minority. Kidding!

Seriously, though, she commented on my post about our bi-racial family and asked me a few questions. I told her via email that I consider myself an open book. I'd rather have someone ask me a question despite how it may "sound" because I believe dialogue is important.

Again, this is in no particular order. I'm going to go with the flow, whatever comes to mind.

I can definitely say I had a good childhood. I grew up in a suburb of Chicago. We were one of the first black families in our neighborhood. I don't remember any incidences of racism against our family but I was pretty young. Bad things didn't start happening to me until we moved to So Cal.

There were not many black families in our new city either (a nice part of Ventura County). I was usually the only black student in a class. Almost all the issues I've ever had were with boys. It was only name calling (I shouldn't say only, verbal abuse is still abuse) nothing physical: Chocolate Bar, Hershey and the ever present N word.

Most of the time I told my parents and they took care of it. My dad is in law enforcement (at time he was Secret Service) and a pretty big guy.

If I was having issues, I'd ask my dad if he could come get me from school. One time, I said I had a lot of homework and could he come with me to my locker because I needed all my books and they were too heavy for me to carry. I could tell he wasn't quite buying it since I'd never asked him to do this before but he played along.

Of course I had to walk him down the main hallway and of course I had to introduce him to several of the guys. I think Dad understood then but he didn't ask me to elaborate. This was junior high and I guess he knew I was wanting to start handling things my way.

Needless to say, his 6' 5" presence in the midst of all the pre-pubes really lent credence to "if you don't knock it off my dad will kick your ass."

There was one boy though who just wouldn't let up. I finally grabbed him by the wrist, bent it backwards and made him apologize. He eventually met Dad too and that was that.

My parents lived in St. Louis and moved to Illinois when I was a baby. For awhile I thought it was odd that my dad would move us so far from the city into a place that was so, well, white, given his feelings about white people.

Now, I feel I have to defend Dad a little here and say he's not a racist. He has a definite mistrust is the word I'll use, but it doesn't come out of nowhere. Given that my parents are in their mid 50's, the climate they were raised in is 180 degrees different than today. He's never said
anything hostile or derogatory about whites around me.

When my dad and uncles were little, "do not go across the train tracks after dark" was not an idle threat parents used to keep kids in line like the boogeyman. People were seriously hurt or lynched for being in the "wrong"neighborhood.

My dad played football and made all sorts of notoriety for the school. I think he was named all state champ or something, but when it came time to award scholarships, he didn't get one. My uncle told me the story. Dad was sure he was going to get a scholarship and coach called out all these names on the team. The last person awarded was the team kicker. He did go to college, to a HBU (historically black university) and even played arena football for The Chicago Fire until right before I was born.

My parents would not have been remiss in raising me to have the same anxieties, but they didn't. Instead, I had to give 110%, be better than everyone else and never give anyone a reason to deny me anything. People were not going to expect much from both a black and a woman so I had to prove everybody wrong. Which is why I'm such a type A control freak perfectionist.

Now that I'm a parent I can absolutely understand their decisions. And I respect the hell out of them for it.

It was hard to go back to St. Louis to visit. As a kid, I didn't know where the hostility the other black kids showed towards me came from. But I got a lot of, "she thinks she better than us," "she's not black enough" and "she thinks she's white." I always thought it was so stupid.

I couldn't understand why, just because we had the same skin color, I was all of a sudden supposed to start saying "ain't" and "aks" instead of ask. I was a straight A student and I was taught that "ain't" was not a word. Period. And I couldn't just flip a switch because I was around all black people and add it to my vocabulary.

Looking back though, I
was different, and different makes people uncomfortable. We'd come to visit every few years and I'd have my hair freshly done, new toys, a suitcase full of Esprit clothes (hey, it was the 80's!) and I lived in California (that alone was enough to make me stick out like a sore thumb).

I guess I can see me through their eyes. My not knowing how people outside of family were going to treat me made me, not really shy, more like cautious, and that could have been perceived as haughtiness.

I kept to a small circle of friends and tried not to let it bother me too much. My dad has a saying (one of many), "they may be your color, but that doesn't mean they're your people." I took it to heart and it helped me to not get my feelings hurt too often.

Anything else you want to know?
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Gobble de Gook

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Recently, it's become quite obvious that the time to consciously expose my DS to more of the African American side of his heritage has come and gone. I guess I was naive in thinking the idea that our family was "different" than other families wouldn't occur to DS until he was old enough to have a mature discussion about race, ethnicity, skin color and what it was like for me growing up.

But, given some of the statements he's made lately, I need to be more proactive and find age appropriate ways to answer his questions and address some of the things he says, like:

"Oh that guy is gonna win because all brown people are good at basketball." (We had a talk about labeling)

"Whoa, look at all the brown people in this movie."

"Mama, you're the most beautifulest mama ever, even though your skin is different from mine and daddy's." (Which is funny because DH is totally pale and DS isn't)
I've composed something several times and it's always ended up disjointed with no logical flow. I'm taking Steph's suggestion and throwing it all out there, totally at random. Warning: it makes no sense AT ALL.

A new boy started in DS's class this week. I met the mom and the son. They are black, and darker than me.

DS saw him and grabbed onto my leg the way he does when he gets shy. I asked what was wrong and he said he didn't want to play with him because he looked weird. I took him outside and asked why he thought that.

"Because his hair is so curly."

"Yours is too."

"But his is really curly."

"You know who has the same hair? Papa [my dad] and Uncle D. And if I didn't use my curling hair (that's what he calls it, cute no?), mine would look that way too."

I told him that wasn't a nice thing to say and reminded him how he felt when his classmate told him his skin color was stupid. I said he didn't have to be friends with N, but he couldn't not be his friend just because he looks different from DS.

This one was hard. I was disappointed in DS and a little hurt too. After all the times we've said to him that families come in all different colors, shapes and sizes, his reaction to this little boy was surprising.

When the boy in DS's class told DS his skin color was stupid, we had a long talk about how that made him feel and what to say if it happens again.

But the situation made me feel like I had failed DS somehow. I know it is my responsibility to expose DS to the African American side of his heritage, and I don't take that responsibility lightly.

I want him to have pride. I want him to know the history. I want to show him the cooking pot our great great (maybe one more great) grandmother used as a slave (my mom uses it as a planter) and have him understand the significance.

I want him to know that in our family, we have one of the first black cowboys and one of the first blacks to own a business in Missouri.

I want my son to grow up happy and secure in the love of his family. I want him to be friends with whomever he chooses. I want him to be in a relationship with whomever he chooses.

Being in a bi-racial relationship hasn't been an issue for us, unless someone else made it an issue. We know raising a family might have its challenges. But, we figured that when the time came, we'd deal with it and now that the time is here, I feel strangely unprepared.

When DH and I were dating, one of his cousins said, "No fair. If you guys get married your kids will be the cutest ones in the family." It bothered me at the time because I wondered if she thought that's why I was with him, to have attractive offspring.

And when DH was still in active duty, after seeing my picture one of the guys told him it was "cool" that he was with me.

I can't talk to DS about what it's like growing up bi-racial because that's not my experience. I hope he doesn't have to go through some of the things I did, but I fear he might.

He's also going to face his own challenges like people asking "what are you?" and having to decide which box to check under "ethnicity" or to make his own category.

When we would visit family in St. Louis, the friends of my cousins nicknamed me Proper. As in "She talks so proper." It was strange because we were all in school. They took the same English classes and learned how to conjugate verbs the same as I did. But I spoke differently and sometimes they made me feel bad about it.

I don't want my son to feel ashamed of being smart and articulate. I don't want someone to finally meet him in person after only knowing him from phone conversations and say, "I didn't know you were black," as happened to me.

When I was younger, maybe junior high, after my parents divorced my dad would ask me about school and my friends and he's want to know if any of them were black. I understood why he cared. But to me, friends were friends. And I didn't want to be friends with someone just because we had the same skin color.

I've never had a big circle of black friends for the simple reason that there have never been enough of us in the places I grew up to make that circle!

The same is true now. There aren't that many black faces in DS's school. Part of me wants to find a play group or sports team we can join so he can have more exposure than I did. But that seems so contrived.

I could go on and on but I won't. I've rambled enough. All words of wisdom and advice are welcome and appreciated!
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