I follow Candice Brathwaite on Instagram – she has one of my favourite accounts. I always look forward to her content as she is funny, chatty, honest, open, makes me envious of her amazing outfits and is never afraid to speak her mind. So I guess I felt like I knew her a bit when I started reading I Am Not Your Baby Mother, but I defintiely did not know everything she has been through.
Opening sentence: The bedazzled characters which gyrated across the screen of my own mother’s TV were decorated in ensembles which mimicked the one I has spotted on the VHS cover of the salacious movie Dancehall Queen.
This book is written in her tone of voice, I could really imagine her telling me this story – her story of being a black British mother. This is not a memoir, as she mentions a few times, but it is biographical and about her experience of being a black woman living in the UK.
Every chapter covers a different theme and she adds in relevant statistics to show the racism problems in the UK. She talks about the lack of representation of black mothers in the media, the stereotype within both the black and white communities of black mothers and the concerns she has about raising her children.
When we found out I was carrying a boy, I could see that, in becoming a mother to a son, I needed to take stock; because, assuming I worked night and day to keep him out of the clutches of gangs, how long would I also be able to keep the overzealous police off his back as he grew up to be the very embodiment of who they’re taught to imprison?
I am a mother too, so on one level could relate to some things she was saying. But I am a white mother so, for example: I had a higher chance of surviving childbirth, I did not have to think about moving out of London because I had a son and was worried for his future, I did not have to have a discussion about racism with my young child and make them aware that people might judge them simply because of the colour their skin. My white privilege is once again brought to my attention.
An honest, eye-opening read
Candice honestly talks through personal moments when she has experienced racism – from when she goes to collect her second-hand Bugaboo and the woman is clearly shocked she’s a black woman to when her daughter is only in reception class when a class-mate is racist to her and the school does not adequately deal with the situation.
Even if you are not a mother, I encourage you to read this. I Am Not Your Baby Mother is an educational and important read. Candice reflects on issues directly relating to motherhood, but also the overall racism problem in the UK. And she does so in such an honest and direct way that you take in everything she is saying. Plus, her amazing, vibrant attitude to life comes through on the pages too, making it a joy to be in her company while reading this.
- Published by Quercus 2020;
- 240 pages;
- My rating: