Category: Rituals


There is a saying that mothers love their sons and raise their daughters. This perspective is evident in the way that girls grow into women. For all the ceremonial culture that we lost when we were ripped from the Motherland, women still maintained a strong foundation of social and even physical rites of passage to build on.

As girls, we learn hard life lessons. In our families and in society, whether good or bad, we have clear definitions of what it means to be a woman. We follow the Mother Figure in the home. Our mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts and the women in our community ALWAYS talk about what it means to be a woman. Keep your head up and your dress down. Books before boys. Cook a pot of rice and pick the peas properly. You got your period? Don’t be bringing no babies up in here. Keep a clean house and sweep the yard. Do well in school. Iron your clothes. Get a good job. Always have on a clean panty — you might get into an accident. Keep your weave tight and your nails fly. Get your own money. Get that man’s money. Whatever it is, every family has its own values but it’s always clear.

So, for girls, the opportunity is there to rebuild Rites of Passage, the more structured and ceremonial side of becoming a woman. And what about the boys? What ideas do you have around using a structured Rites of Passage system to teach our children how to be women and men? If you know of any resources, please also post them here.

In the News: Black is coming back! Share your ideas for the Black Woman and Child magazine relaunch at www.blackwomanandchild.com.

BWAC is coming back!

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CB106362Black Woman and Child is in the process of developing a pre-natal program for women who are 12 weeks or further along in their pregnancies. We need your input! Did YOU ever attend a pre-natal program? What did you think or feel about it? Did the program help to prepare you for childbirth and parenting? Did it have an impact on the kind of parent that you are today? After the program, did you have any additional contact, bonds, with the other parents who participated? Please post your comments here or send to bwac@nubeing.com. Your feedback is greatly appreciated so thank you in advance!

Have Your Say: Holiday Traditions

The holiday season is fast approaching. How does your family spend the holiday season? Does your family observe special holiday traditions that have been passed down generation after generation?

Christmas, Kwanzaa or your own tradition…?

We want to know. We are looking for families to share their holiday traditions to be included in an article for the Holiday edition of Black Woman and Child Magazine. Deadline: October 31, 2008.

Post your comments here OR email bwac@nubeing.com.

Thanks!

www.blackwomanandchild.com

  • Last night I had the opportunity to speak on a panel at The Scarborough Hospital (Grace Campus). The discussion was organized by the Family Advisory Council on Maternal and Infant Care. My role as a member of the Advisory Council was to speak on the valuable role that choice plays in improving outcomes in pregnancy and birth care.

    Overall, I think the presentation went very well! I was very pleased with the points that I chose to raise, as well as the audience response. The bad news is that my digital recorder failed on me (or maybe I failed on it) — so was not able to present My First Podcast (as I’d hoped). Well, maybe next time. Instead, I’ve listed some of my notes here of the main points that I put forward in my presentation. Your feedback and comments are always appreciated.

    • What solidified my interest in Family-Centered Care (FCC) is what I call my two-track prenatal experience
    • RELATIONSHIP WITH PHYSICIAN: My physician and I had a good relationship prior to my pregnancy
    • She was open and kept me informed on all matters, illnesses, checkups, etc.
    • Bonus: We also had a shared cultural background so she understood my issues and perspective, jokes i.e. “I’m wearing my Sunday baggie.”
    • My pregnancy changed the Code of Conduct, script, choreography of visits
    • I lacked an understanding of this new “prenatal culture” — i.e., concept of “trying to get pregnant” and question of “are you keeping it?”
    • Suddenly I was not qualified to participate in my own care
    • Even shared cultural background wasn’t enough to bridge the gap (the culture of prenatal care trumped our previous relationship)
    • Handouts were not culturally relevant
    • Ongoing issues around diet, midwifery, homebirth, birthplan, sick vs. healthy attitude, etc.
    • My husband and I would joke about what government secrets were lurking in my med file (information not shared, results of tests not forthcoming)
    • Increased tension; not enough information provided to make informed choices and doctor seemed offended by my questions
    • Issue of control of my care at a time when I was “losing” control of my bodily function — control of any kind was very important to me
    • Parted ways with physician over issue of HIV Test (physician made bad judgement call when I refused an HIV Test that I believed was optional)
    • MIDWIVES: I transitioned my care into that of midwives
    • I was treated with respect
    • I was allowed and encouraged to participate in my care
    • Weighed self, tested own urine and reported results to midwives — medical file always open on the desk, I could see and comment on the comments
    • Debated pros and cons of all tests, final choice always mine
    • Birth plan was encouraged, discussed and respected
    • I didn’t always get my own way but discussion helped me to understand why not
    • My culture was respected
    • BLACK WOMAN AND CHILD: At that time, I felt that mothers of any cultural difference or having any difference in perspective could not get fair treatment or choice in a physician-run hospital system
    • As a result, I began publishing a magazine to promote and validate the cultural perspectives of Black women around the world
    • I held fast to the ideology that “smart,” healthy, empowered women gave birth at home with midwives and only “sick,” scared women gave birth in hospitals with physicians
    • home birth = choice and hospital births = challenges
    • Working with the magazine, I had an opportunity to speak to many different kinds of women
    • Learned that some women were having healthy, safe, empowered and successful births in hospitals too — what made the difference was the level of involvement or choice
    • I learned that it doesn’t have to be polar opposites
    • Home birth is not for everyone but having choice can empower birth outcomes for families even in a hospital
    • NEW VIEWS: Hospitals like TSH are promoting that they are open to Family-Centered Care
    • Women and their families can benefit from having options, benefits also roll over to staff and overall view of hospital
    • Example: a birth plan helps to address issues and opens dialogue between pregnant mothers and caregivers
    • A birthplan also takes pressure off staff: the hospital is note solely responsible for successful birth outcomes
    • Example: Cultural ideals can be good ideas that staff can learn and pass on to other patients
    • Culture doesn’t happen in a vacuum
    • We all want to belong; not check our culture at the hospital door
    • In childbirth, we may be at our most vulnerable but mothers are not monsters — we can actually be reasonable
    • Example: I like to eat barley porridge right after giving birth. I don’t expect to get that in the hospital cafeteria BUT is the hospital open to having a family member bring some for me? Let’s work together.
    • When a mother is relaxed, happy and confident, we get better outcomes, better births, less snapping at nurses and bad attitudes
    • The input of relatives is validated, helps mother, speeds healing
    • The birth experience, whether hospital or home, set the tone for future attitudes about childbearing and child-raising
    • I am on Baby Number Four, so I know that there’s some truth to this

    Nicole Osbourne James

This is a public service information request. In the Winter 2009 edition of Black Woman and Child magazine (November 2009), we are working on a piece about blended families. Meaning, he has a child from a previous relationship, maybe you have a child as well. And now that you are together, maybe you have more children together. How is it working for you? Are you able to balance the needs of the children, previous partners, grandparents, society and, if you’re lucky, yourselves? Are you happy? Do you have any advice for others in a similar situation? Is there anything that you wish you could do differently? Please share. Your comments could go a long way in supporting one of our readers — and, if you are interested, you could even be one of our featured families for the article. Let us know where you live; our goal is always to go global as much as possible. If you don’t want to use your real name, just don’t.

To find out more about BWAC, visit www.blackwomanandchild.com.

Project Butterfly Book by Niambi Jaha-Echols

Project Butterfly Book by Niambi Jaha-Echols

Now available from the Black Woman and Child Mama’s Market:

  • Project Butterfly: Supporting Young Women and Girls Through the Transitions of Life – a great book written by Niambi Jaha-Echols.
  • Also available – the corresponding write-in workbook.

Niambi made a great presentation at the recent Family, Culture and Lifestyle Show in Toronto on June 28. Exerts from her speech will be posted here on Blog Woman and Child. Stay tuned.

To get your own copies, visit the Black Woman and Child Mama’s Market at http://nubeing.com/bwac/market/mamasmarket.htm.

Wow, I was just reviewing some newsletters we produced in 1999 and found a quotation by Susan L. Taylor. In getting ready to start the new year, I thought this would be a good piece to keep in mind:

“Stop waiting until you finish school, until you go back to school, until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your car or home is paid off.

Stop waiting until spring, until summer, until fall, until winter, until you are off welfare, until the first or fifteenth, until your song comes on, until you’ve had a drink, until you’ve sobered up, until you die, until you are born again to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy…Happiness is a journey, not a destination.” — Susan Taylor