Motherhood is kind of a hot topic this year. From Ivanka Trump’s problematic and limiting perspective of working moms, to the new healthcare bill that seemed to completely forget women’s health, it seems the mission has been to stuff mothers (and essentially, women) into boxes that don’t fit our diversity. With 85 million mothers in the US alone, every one of our stories are unique and deeply personal.
I spoke with three Black women, all experiencing different elements of motherhood about what motivates them, worries them and how they have made motherhood their own.
The Sister Advocate | Brandi Sellerz-Jackson
Mother of two, Doula,Creator of ‘Not So Private Parts’
Brandy Sellerz-Jackson is the kind of woman you see and immediately want to know. Her kind smile and warm eyes exude comfort and maternal instinct. It’s easy to browse her Instagram profile and sift through images of her happy family (two boys - two and ten, and husband Jon) and assume her life is as picturesque as it seems. But Brandi has made it her mission - and her brand - to discuss the very topics most women try to avoid. After suffering a miscarriage, Brandi found herself floundering for answers. When she couldn’t find them through the usual avenues - she decided instead to start the conversation herself. That’s when ‘Not So Private Parts’ was born.
A: Why do you think the topic of miscarriage is so infrequently discussed?
B: I think there’s this pressure that this is something we’re just supposed to be able to do. Its supposed to be easy - and that can be furthest from the truth. Some women suffer with fertility. I think because there's this huge misconception - whether it ends in miscarriage or stillbirth there's this guilt that's associated with it. It ends up creating more isolation because of that.
A: What are your fears when it comes to the direction of women’s healthcare in the US?
B: Right now, I think a lot of people are scared. A lot of women are scared. Can you blame us? You look at the event in this past week with the crazy stuff that’s just been passed. Part of me feels like what did we expect? One of the things that we’re going to have to start looking to is birthing with a midwife. A lot of women of color face opposition in making birthing choices. If you can, be an advocate for your sister.
A: Why are open conversations between women so important to have?
B:The more that we talk the less isolated we feel. My experience might be different than yours but there’s something that we’re all connected by - we’re open to. We remove isolation when we open up dialogue. None of my friends were having kids yet when I was pregnant with my oldest, so I didn’t know. You think it’s supposed to be so easy and then of course you end up thinking you’re failing.
A: How does self-care come into play for you?
B: I always say motherhood is like the oxygen mask thing on planes. You know, you have to put the mask on you first before you help anyone else? I’m breastfeeding a toddler, and I have a ten year old, I’m running ‘Not So Private Parts’. Motherhood does not mean martyrdom. I think mothers are supposed to just always call our kids awesome. but we have to give ourselves grace.
Find out more about Brandi at www.notsoprivateparts.life
and look out for her upcoming collaboration with ICON undies, The Afterbirth.
The Mom Boss | Qimmah Saafir
Mother of one EIC, HANNAH Magazine
Qimmah Saafir is the woman we all kind of want to be. Strikingly beautiful, effortlessly stylish and the mind behind a beautiful work of editorial genius - HANNAH magazine. The bi-annual print magazine is packed with carefully curated images and thoughtful pieces that speak to the millennial black woman who rightfully thinks herself a goddess.
Since HANNAH’s inception in 2015, Qimmah has been seen on the pages of NYLON, The FADER and Mic. If that weren’t enough to keep a girl busy, she gave birth her first child a mere 10 months ago and it hasn’t slowed her down much at all. With the second installment of HANNAH due this Summer, Qimmah shared with me how her journey has changed since becoming a mom.
A: How do now you approach work/life balance since becoming a mother?
Q: Balance? Ha! What is balance? Yeah, still figuring that out. Everyone says sleep while your baby sleeps. That doesn’t work when you are your own boss and the success of your business depends on your leadership. I don’t believe there is one formula that will always work. My biggest tool has been flexibility. Each day is different. Being able to adapt is the only way I get anything done. And having an understanding and unselfish partner always helps.
A:Does motherhood look and feel the way you expected? Talk a little more about how partnerships come into play for you.
Q:I didn’t come into motherhood with any expectations. My mother had nine of us. Watching her taught me that every child and the approach to raising every child is unique. I’ve always known partnerships are essential. I’m one of nine as I mentioned. So growing up with that many siblings, you realize very early that we are better together. Motherhood is another layer of that. Finding a mommy village, having family around your child. It does absolutely take a village.
A: How, if at all, has motherhood begun to shape your personal and professional brands?
Q: I don’t believe I have a personal brand. Not one that I am aware of at least. Professionally, motherhood has given me another layer of insight into womanhood, my readership, myself… HANNAH is very much a part of me so she expands as I do.
To learn more about Qimmah Saafir and HANNAH Magazine head over to their website at
The Brave New Wave | Elle Pierre
Mother of one Singer/Songwriter
The story of how Elle Pierre and her husband met, fell in love and got married is as beautiful as the photos of their wedding day. An adorable meet-cute which developed into a romance and within a year they were man and wife. Elle’s wedding dress flowing gracefully over her protruding belly as the two stood side by side - glowing, joyful - is one that will force a smile on your face whether you’re ready or not. What makes Elle and her family unique doesn’t seem all that unique at first glance. But interracial families only represented 12% of newlywed in 2013, and the rate hasn’t increased by much since. However, throw in a tyrannical president who has ushered in a new wave of racial unrest - and suddenly something beautiful and human can be seen as frightening.
Elle isn’t frightened one bit. Here’s her story.
A: What were your fears when it came to having a mixed race child?
E: So, when I was pregnant and once we found out we were having a boy - it was right in the midst of all the newer killings of black men. Sterling, Philando. So my fear was partially in knowing I was going to have a son and that he would get older and have some encounters with the police. Also, wondering about his identity and what it would be like for him to be in the world and not feel like he fits in with his peers.
A: Have those fears since settled now that he's born? If so, how? If not, why haven't they?
E:I feel as long as we educate him and inform him and encourage him, I think it’s more about us. We let him know that people are going to come for him in these ways and these ways. Let him know what can potentially happen and how to handle those things when they come about. All kids are going to get ridiculed and all children run the risk of having some sort of identity issues. It could be race, sexuality - anything. It’s more about us and how we feed him love.
A:You were pregnant during the rise of this new “alt-right” extremism. How, if at all, did that shape your perspective of black motherhood?
E: While I was aware of what was happening with Trump and while I was aware of this fool, I have a tribe of people around me. My family is a solid group of people. I feel blessed to be raised by my mom and uncles. Nothing about what was happening outside really has anything to do with me as a mother or me as a black woman in this society.
E: I was pregnant in the midst of all this madness but being rooted in my beliefs and my culture - all this shit does is make me stand even more firm and even more tall. If I’m going to raise someone else I can’t live in fear. its gonna be a while before we see real change - politically and racially. if what’s happening around me shapes my footing how is that going to make him feel confident?
A: As an artist, how - if at all - had your expression changed in motherhood?
E: Once I got further along in my pregnancy I realized that it was important for me to release the music I had worked on. I wanted to create something new and something more vulnerable - a true extension of myself. I’ve always been so private and so afraid to let people see aspects of my life that I was feeling insecure about. Then finally something happened to me, this beautiful gift of a child and a wonderful partner to share it with. Yeah, expression has become more personal. It’s been a very introverted thing.
To hear Elle’s music, check out her SoundCloud page.
(Photo from top: Trotter)
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