This isn't necessarly where the magic happens, but it is where black marriage and black parenting play host to current events, personal observations, hot questions and inquisitive insights.

As the old saying goes, "I was born black, and I'll die black."

But staying married, especially with kids, while black is no easy thing. Statistics suggest it is now an anomaly. Our culture has commodified and turned a blind eye to relational pathologies and dysfunctions that have become normalized.

Today, adjusted for population growth, fewer black couples than in many years - proportionally - are getting and staying married. Fewer black children are born to a husband and wife who live in the same home.

What are the conditions that make this so? Where are the landmines we collectively trip over in our quest for love? Which situations or nuances can make it so challenging for us?

Black Married Momma is here to open up the dialogue. This is an exam, not a pop quiz, so please take a seat.

To contact Black Married Momma, send inquiries to info@blackmarriedmomma.com.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

In Memoriam: For Black Women Gone Too Soon

The Black women's blogosphere and online natural hair community have been mourning the loss of two online personalities whose recent deaths have left us in a state of both mourning and analysis.

Well-known natural hair blogger Dominique Banks, who went by the name LongHairDon'tCare2011 on YouTube, passed away on April 9 from complications of lupus. She was just 27 years old.

Dominique Banks was among the "holy grail" of YouTube vloggers in the natural hair community. Well-liked for her unassuming persona (i.e. she remained human without trying to become a self-made "brand" like so many other natural hair sources on YouTube) and her incredible mane, she grew a community of more than 94,000 subscribers to her video channel, while also contributing articles to natural hair websites.

Karyn Washington, who created the online advocacy platform For Brown Girls, committed suicide this month. She was only 22 years old. Washington was becoming a force to be reckoned with in the microcosm of voices championing the self-esteem and value of Black women and girls, specifically those who are marginalized for having darker skin tones. She aimed to "encourage those struggling with accepting having a darker skin complexion to love and embrace the skin they are in."

In the days that have followed these untimely departures of these motivational, inspiring Black women from our lives, many of us have been having some heart-felt conversations and disclosures. Online discussion boards and forums are filling up with tributes as well as confessionals.

In the case of Washington, conversations about undiagnosed or untreated depression in the African-American community are running rampant. Talks are focusing on the shame and isolation we in our community tend to face when we, as Black women in particular, cannot be the fearless, strong, endlessly hardworking archetype we have been historically shaped and socially molded to project. In fact, in my Mocha Moms Chapter, we talked about how the concept of being busy all the time - that is, bragging yet complaining about having multiple demands, projects and obligations - is the new social currency for many Black women. It's how we are starting to measure our worth, but it also can be a concealment for depression and unhappiness. It can be a form of escapism from our real problems and authentic needs.

In the case of Banks, we are chatting about the toll of diseases like lupus that disproportionately affect Black women. We are encouraging each other to be mindful and diligent about our health and well-being. We're stressing the importance of finding a good primary care physician, listening to those subtle signs and cues that something within might be wrong, and advocating for Black women to become their own best advocates, because no one else will be but us.

As we mourn these beautiful sisters gone too soon, we are thinking about our own lives and asking deep questions. Are we making the most of every day? Are we living according to our terms or those that have been forced upon us? We are questioning if, in Oprah parlance, we are living our "best life."

Devastating events like these serve as reminders of our mortality. As someone in my mid-30s, I see these departed ladies as both sisters and daughters. I look at them and envision the women my daughters will be in just a few years that will go by all too quickly. I also bear witness to the strong cord that connects all Black women to an unofficial sisterhood that is stronger than any sorority or civic membership.

Most of all, I pray for their peace. And I hope that these conversations being held now are not in vain. I wish for these moments of disclosure and sincerity to evoke a new brain-think among Black women, as we focus as much on the present as we do on the future. And take the time to fashion the lives we want for ourselves, rather than the ones prescribed to us in a rather generic and impersonal script that leave us overburdened, unconnected and under-fulfilled.

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