The slogan “The personal is political” becomes real as Dani McClain describes her experience as a Black mother raising a child in a society hostile to Black and brown people. She is a single mother of a girl whom she wants to protect from that hostility. The book’s title comes from a statement made by Cat Brooks, who said, “Our job as Black mothers is to keep pushing the liberation ball down the court. Our obligation is to leave the world better for them and to ensure that they are equipped with the tools that they need to fight… I tell my daughter all the time–and it’s harsh–but we don’t live for the I. We live for the we.”
Dani McClain gathered stories from Black mothers of children of different ages. All were coping with their daily tasks of parenting. Most were also activists on the frontlines of movements for social, political, and cultural change. They advocate for their children everywhere, from health care services to playgrounds, to schools and beyond. Their activism is part of their daily lives.
All parents want their children’s journey to adulthood to be safe. McClain describes how the threats and uncertainty caused by racism create more reason for Black parents to fear for their children. She adds that non-black parents are more likely to have financial, social, and educational advantages because they do not face the barriers of systemic racism. One can say we all, whether parents or not, whether Black or nonblack, have an obligation to make the world a better place for future generations. Black parents can give us guidance.
Dani McClain’s vivid descriptions of Black mothers’ daily lives give us all insight into how the political becomes personal, and the personal becomes political. Yet, they are examples of mothers who live for the we of family and community.
Reviewed by Dr. Julia G. Kahrl, Founder, GRR!