Stand With Mothers

by Emily Clancy

In celebration of Mother’s Day, my thoughts and my activism have been focused on mothers: the mothers in our own life who have shown us the way, the mothers who show up so that others can have the freedom to choose when they become mothers, the mothers of our movement for freedom, justice, love…

I am not a mother. In 2016, I chose to get an abortion. I was alone in a bathroom stall of the high school where I worked at the time when I watched the little blue plus sign confirm what my instincts already knew: pregnant.

In that moment, I didn’t think about how I didn’t know if I wanted to be mother. All I knew was that I did not want to carry the aftermath of my sexual assault in my womb.

I never regretted my abortion, but I want to give voice to those of us who are ‘unmothers.’ What does Mother’s Day mean —if it means anything at all—for those of us who aborted our motherhood status?

On Independent Bookstore Day, I scoured my local bookstores to answer this question within myself, and I picked up a collection of stories called Know the Mother by local author Desiree Cooper. While I am only a few pages in, I encourage everyone to seek out this book for the perfect Mother’s Day gift or for your own curiosity and pleasure, as it is a beautiful characterization of motherhood and mothering in its many forms. It opens with the following wisdom:

“The source of life is as a mother. Be fond of both mother and children but know the mother dearer, and you outlive death.” ~ Tao Te Ching

To all of those who identify as mothers, I hope you have a lovely Mother’s Day that reflects all of the joy and love you give to the world each day.

Mothers make our neighborhoods and communities stronger. Below are some local causes and organizations you can get involved in or donate to as a way of giving back and, as the beloved Detroit community leader and mother Charity Hicks would say, waging love.

Free Siwatu:  Siwatu-Salama Ra, a mother and community leader in Detroit, was just trying to defend her family when she was violently confronted by a person who rammed her vehicle into Siwatu’s parked car while Siwatu’s two-year old was playing inside, and then tried to use the vehicle to run Siwatu’s mother over. Fearing for their lives, Siwatu, who is a licensed concealed gun owner, held her weapon in plain sight, hoping it would stop the person from running them over. The gun was unloaded and no one was hurt. Still, she was sentenced to a mandatory two years in prison for “Felony Firearm” and because that gives the judge no discretion in sentencing, she is now behind bars and pregnant.

  • Mothering Justice’s 6th Annual Mamas’ March
    • WHO? Mothers from across Michigan coming together in hope and action today to shape our path for tomorrow.
    • WHAT? A day of action at the Capitol to celebrate activist mamas and make legislative visits about the Mamas’ Agenda and other issues that matter to mothers in Michigan
  • SisterFriends Detroit
    • Black babies in Detroit die at twice the rate of other babies in Michigan. Moms in Detroit face barriers to accessing quality prenatal care, social isolation, and stress that can put their babies at a higher risk of being born too small or too early. SisterFriends Detroit is a volunteer effort to support healthier moms and babies. SisterFriends Detroit provides support to pregnant moms, and their families until their baby’s first birthday. SisterFriends Detroit is not a program. Volunteer SisterFriends connect pregnant moms and families to existing programs and resources – and to each other. Many SisterFriend and Little Sister relationships continue well beyond baby’s first birthday. Once a SisterFriend always a SisterFriend!
    • sisterfriends@detroitmi.gov
  • Black Mama’s Bail Out
    • Bail out Black Mama’s this Mother’s Day in Detroit! If money is what is keeping these women from their families, Black Love can bring them back together. Not only will your donation help reunite a family, but it will help us all end mass incarceration and seek alternatives to money bail that will support our people and create stronger, safer communities for us to live in.
  • Women-Inspired Neighborhood Network
    • In 2008, 4 major health systems in Detroit (Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System, St. John Providence Health System, and Oakwood Healthcare System) came together to form the Detroit Regional Infant Mortality Reduction Task Force . This team of maternal and infant medical providers was struck by Detroit’s high rates of infant deaths and the unmet needs of women in the area. The team created Sew Up the Safety Net for Women and Children (SUSN). The project focuses on empowering Detroit’s women through a network of community partners. Together, they work to make sure that all babies reach their first birthday. The Women-Inspired Neighborhood (WIN) Network is the SUSN program for the Detroit community.
  • Planned Parenthood of Michigan
    • Pregnancy is an exciting time! The journey through pregnancy and birth can be a joyful experience. You will have many questions, and our staff will teach you what you need to know to prepare for a happy and healthy pregnancy, labor, and birth. We offer our services in a supportive, nonjudgmental way to couples and to single parents, including your family and close support group if you wish. Planned Parenthood of Michigan has teamed up with the University of Michigan Health Center to offer you the best in prenatal and birthing care services. Our prenatal program is available at:
    • Ann Arbor West 2370 West Stadium Blvd. 48103 (734.929.9480)

“Love heals. Heals and liberates. I use the word love, not meaning sentimentality, but a condition so strong that it may be that which holds the stars in their heavenly positions and that which causes the blood to flow orderly in our veins.”
― Maya Angelou, Mom & Me & Mom

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