January 06, 2020
Any woman of colour will tell you we get used to being noticed.
Black And Brown Mums Like Me Are Judged Differently. Heres How I Know
My children and I were in a small café by the Liverpool docks when I noticed an elderly couple kept staring at me – and at my kids. Though I began to feel uncomfortable, I tried to think nothing of it when suddenly the elderly lady spoke out, loudly and harshly.
“Get your children to shut up. Now.”
I was stunned. I froze, unable to react. The children were just being children, nothing unusual or disruptive. When my (white) husband, who had been sitting obscured from their view, stood up, their expressions changed. Then so did their tone: more placating and apologetic.
In tears after a lovely day ruined, I tweeted about what happened. My story went viral, but what really surprised me were the responses from white mothers, who told me their ‘really wild’ children (their words, not mine!) had never faced such judgement from strangers in any public place, ever. It was only then that I realised the colour of my skin – and theirs to an extent, though they are ‘white-passing’ – had played a role in this couple’s judgement of us. Did they indeed feel justified in ostracising normal child-like behaviour not just because I am a woman, and also one who is evidently non-white?
As the tweet gained momentum, an American woman came forward to tell me – and others – of the ‘cultural difference’ in how children are brought up. She had several Afghani friends and so she knew very well how they brought up their children to be ‘feral’ and had a more permissive style of parenting. The underlying racism in her tweets were so obvious to me and to others, but she refused to acknowledge she carried any prejudice – she knew someone from the Indian subcontinent so of course she couldn’t hold some racial bias.We know mothers are judged for their parenting much more than fathers... However, there is also research that shows women of colour face harsher judgment.All this really made me wonder if mothers of colour are judged by a different yardstick. We know mothers are judged for their parenting much more than fathers – they’re scrutinised for every decision they make. Michigan researchers asked 475 mothers of children up to the age of five across the United States about feeling judged for their parenting skills. Some 61% said they had been judged by strangers.
However, there is also research that shows women of colour face harsher judgment from others. Data collected in New Jersey showed that although black children make up just 14% of the child population in New Jersey, they comprise 41% of those entering foster care. A Brookings Institute study showed that a high percentage of families investigated by child-welfare authorities are poor families of colour. It is clear that the underlying racial bias extended to parents, and mothers of colour were being treated differently than white parents by the social care workers. One investigation found that white children in homes with drug use or domestic violence were seen as safer than children in similar situations in minority ethnic communities.
The case of Debra Harrell, a 46-year-old black mother in South Carolina, was a stark reminder of how racial bias leads to a rash assessment of neglect. Harrell was arrested for allowing her nine-year-old daughter to play at the park while she was working at a nearby cafe. Accused of neglecting her child, Harrell spending the night in jail. Her daughter being placed in foster care for 17 days. A 2018 study by sociologists Sinikka Elliott and Sarah Bowen, drawing on 138 intensive interviews and ethnographic observations showed that women of colour run the risk of being labelled a bad mother. They show that gender and race intersect to play a huge role in mothers of colour facing a higher level of institutional and social monitoring. The systemic social inequality is factor too, of course. There is a perception that minority ethnic communities are poorer, living in cramped inner city housing, with larger families. That leads to a generalised conclusion that this leads to more neglect of their children too, even though many minority ethnic communities are more child-centred.I want to be able to bring up my children without fear of judgement from strangersStereotypical representation in films and media does not help. Think of Apu’s large, chaotic family in The Simpsons, and the various travel documentaries and writings about India showing cows and dogs roaming the streets have all contributed to an image of certain Asian communities being unhygienic and ‘dirty’ that is forged into the wider sensibilities. As we live in a world where lines are being increasingly drawn by race, and immigration is so prominent in political conversation, racial stereotypes set in, and the unconscious biases become more explicit. The colour of our skin is increasingly being used as an identifier to denote group memberships, and to question people’s right to belong.
From my daughter being monitored for her lunch at her primary school to make sure she was bringing healthy food from home, to a person in our local café telling me off for being on the phone recently (sorry for desperately finding two minutes to respond to an urgent work email while solo parenting toddler twins!), I’ve had my fair share of judgement as a mother. But I cannot help but wonder if the colour of my skin adds an extra layer of bias that gives strangers permission to not only judge me for my parenting, but also be more vocal about it.
I want to be able to bring up my children without fear of judgement from strangers, and I don’t want their childhood to be coloured by the shadow of my skin colour. Right now, motherhood has a very white face; what we on Instagram and in mainstream media are images and stories of overwhelmingly white mothers. Of course many experiences of motherhood resonate across racial lines, but we urgently need more diverse stories of motherhood, and we need to see more brown and black mothers – just like me – being open about the challenges they face everyday.
Dr Pragya Agarwal is a journalist and behavioural scientist. Follow her on Twitter at @DrPragyaAgarwal
Have a compelling personal story you want to tell? Find out what we’re looking for here, and pitch us on ukpersonal@huffpost.comMore from HuffPost UK Personal I’m An Introvert, But Here’s Why I Gave In And Made ‘Mum Friends’ An Apology To All The Mums I Judged Before I Became One I Can't Stop Reliving My Traumatic Birth
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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