Interview with Anaya

Welcome to the revival of the Birth Justice blog...

IN HONOR OF Mother's Day 2018, and as part of Forward Together's #MamasDay campaign, we interviewed Anaya Kendall about her experiences as a young Black mama. Her words uplift as she discusses both the trials and triumphs of being a Black mother.
Anaya with her son Yahmir

What makes Mamas Day meaningful to you?
Black moms have not got the respect or appreciation they deserve, especially moms who are doing it by ourselves. Some of us are working 6 days out of the week. We are trying our best to keep the house and kids together. Whatever you’re doing is the best you can and the best you can give to your children.

We need a day to know that everything you’re doing matters and has a meaning whether you see that purpose now or not. Some mothers have to leave this earth not knowing that.

Is there something you wish people understood about Black Mamahood?
Someone called me bitter today but we take in a lot of bullsh*t.
We take so much weight on our shoulders from when we are little girls. Black women are like the axis that earth rotates on. We are the ones who support and keep everything going in society. Everywhere you go, Black women are the axis of humanity raising our children, other people’s children, doing the grunt work and keeping things going. This is what Mamas Day needs to emphasize. Black women are the strength that built this world.
From little girls, just trying to be pretty as a Black girl in America that is so harsh on Black women. Many of us are treated poorly by men and even our mothers because of generational stuff. We are not bitter, we are tired and over it.

Imagine a world where Black Mamas don't face any barriers and have all the support they need. What does that world look like?
We would be in Wakanda. There would be no such thing as degrading Black Women or single mothers who didn’t want to be. We would understand our worth and everyone in the world would too. We would know how royal we are. Especially our beautiful dark skinned women. They are richest of them all.

Only by the grace of God I had a doula. I didn’t have any support in my pregnancy from my family except my grandma and she lives far away. Having a doula to have my back and stand up for me was really important made a difference. Someone who can coach and give you peace of mind. To tell you how to take care of the baby and breastfeed.

My Midwife and doula made a huge difference. Especially for single moms, it can benefit a lot of moms of all backgrounds. Doulas should be offered when you sign up for Medicaid. A doula can relate to you and speak for you when you can’t speak for yourself. Like having cereal with your milk, you need both. Doulas should just be stationed at hospitals for access.

Would you consider yourself an activist, community leader or a movement mama? If so, what kind of activism or movement? What are you fighting for/what are you building?
I want to encourage other girls that they can do it (give birth on their own terms). It’s ok if you need to cry and curse and scream. Having faith and prayer is important. My grandma prayed for me. There is power in hope and meditation. Believing in yourself when you wanna give up is what you gotta do.

I want to pass the blessing on. I’m just regular, not an activist. It’s just being a Black woman makes you have to take action. It’s ok to be weird or different. I want people to know they’re not alone. I have a long story of survival and it’s not over yet.

What stands in the way of your right to parent your children?
Well I’m gonna be a mother regardless but my child’s father disappeared for the whole pregnancy. The main issue was not having a partner. I wanted to stay at home with my baby but I had to go back to work right away. I had to sleep in my car at six months pregnant. I didn’t have the support I needed.

Tell us about your family... what does family mean to you?
Whoever loves and supports you unconditionally. It doesn’t matter if you share blood. Accepting people no matter what they believe or who/how they love.