By: Jaz Walker, Youth Organizer, Black On Both Sides

In an effort to celebrate black motherhood, Black On Both Sides, Blocks Together and MomsRising.org held their first community baby shower; #BlackMamasMatter at Blocks Together Chicago (BT Chicago), 3711 W. Chicago Ave.

A huge sign that read, “Black Mamas Matter” posted outside BT Chicago caught the neighborhood’s attention as parents began to walk in with their children.  The room was filled with diapers, baby carriers, co-sleepers, toys and clothes donated from the community to the community. Cranial Sacral body massages for the mothers and traditional baby shower games along with donations, information and resources.

“Black mamas matter, and people need to understand that we love our children and work hard to take care of our kids and shouldn’t be discriminated against by DCFS”, said Lottie Steele, Lead Organizer for Black On Both Sides’ parent cohort.

Black On Both Sides is a grassroots organization that “highlights the voices and experiences of black foster youth while launching a direct action campaign to address the root causes of the foster care to prison pipeline.”  They challenge the Foster Care System by targeting the judicial system and strive to hold The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), accountable for racial discrimination, targeting and criminalizing black mothers and separating families.

Most black households are headed by black women and while DCFS holds a narrative that black women cannot care for their families, this form of state violence disregards and further dehumanizes black women.

Black On Both Sides understands that DCFS’s approach to dealing with family issues does not adequately address or even acknowledge the society-wide issues black families face.

The #BlackMamasMatter Community Baby Shower embraced black motherhood and invited parents to a weekly parent meeting at the BT Chicago office every Saturday at 2 P.M.

“Black On Both Sides’ parent cohort meets every Saturday. We are planning and strategizing on educating ourselves and our communities about DCFS investigation, and we want to grow in being able to support each other”, said Lottie Steel, Parent Organizer for Black On Both Sides.

Mothers in attendance were encouraged to build with one another beyond the baby shower in an effort to form a solid network of parents in Chicago supporting one another against criminal authority as well as they prepare for their next event, #ParentingWhileBlack: A Community Forum for Black Parents.

“I like that even though the sign said #BlackMamasMatter, the fathers were eager to come inside and support the movement. It’s also a reminder that things we create outside of our own beliefs about our community, genuinely give you hope that there’s still opportunity for you to build community with folks”, said Sade Richmond, mother and Chicago resident.

Support the movement by liking these orgs on social media:

Black On Both Sides

https://www.facebook.com/blackbothsides/

Blocks Together Chicago

https://www.facebook.com/blockstogether/

MomsRising.org

https://www.facebook.com/MomsRising.org/

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