Ain’t No Hood Like Motherhood

By Robin Chappell

Published 1 June 2021

Photo by Michelle Leman on Pexels.com

After nine enlightening, yet exhausting months of pregnancy for the second time, I have successfully returned to my platforms of social media. I am thankful to have made it through and I birthed an extremely beautiful son by scheduled c-section that I’ve fallen in love with at first sight. We gave him his father’s name of Corey Alan Thompson Jr. and continue to be proud and mesmerized at his arrival and his perfect health. He’s a great baby that rarely cries, isn’t unnecessarily fussy, and gazes into my eyes constantly with his beautiful dark browns. To make this short…I am sickeningly happy and the blessings of having a new addition to our family is joyfully overwhelming. I reflect on being ridiculously nervous, and it wasn’t because I’d be going through the dreaded pregnancy process (which I don’t enjoy); nor was it because I’d be birthing a son into a world where Black boys are looked at as a threat. Those thoughts were merely the tips of my icebergs. I remember asking my mother the question how did she really share her love between my brother and I. We’re almost four years apart and she often describes me as “the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen”. She also said she had the same thoughts after discovering she was pregnant again, but that it just all…happened. It’s been Harmony Grace and me for what seems like the longest four years. Everything has been about her finally making me a mother and an overall more responsible individual following years of “going with the flow”. I have reached into the depths of my love for her, dedicating and naming my nonprofit after her and even having a children’s book about her in the making. She has received every ounce of my attention and my affection and I considered her my world for so long that I seriously had thoughts in the back of my head.

How in the world could I love another child as much as I love HER??

My mother me gave the response many mothers would provide and described it as something naturally maternal, but the thing is that I’ve never considered myself maternal at all. When I discovered Harmony was coming at the age of twenty-nine, there was the anxiety of wondering exactly what type of mother I would be to her. Would I be any good at it? What if I hate it? I really don’t even like children to be honest. They were all true questions and statements, and I was known as that single person at gatherings who held babies out at arms length whenever I was handed one. They felt my vibe so much (or lack thereof) that they instantly started wailing on me. I never got along with a baby or child. So imagine my amazement years later, the fact that I would be a mother of not just one…but TWO beautiful children. It seemed like I was just getting used to having just one and finally getting into the groove of motherhood. Now I’m getting into the swing of having a tiny two week old baby boy that needs constant attention juggled with the demands, attitude, and bratty independence of a four year old girl heading to preschool this August. It all brings me to tears with the realization that I’m not even that same selfish and careless twenty-something year old any longer. I really sat here contemplating how to equally distribute my love between two children from my womb, not to mention mentally preparing for “the baby blues” or postpartum depression. What if I don’t automatically take to him at first sight? What if I’m so stuck on Harmony I don’t seem to want to hold him or interact with him as much? My worst mistake was reading about other pregnant mom’s woes and situations on an app called What to Expect, which effectively tracks your baby’s growth and allows you to interact with expecting moms due around the same time. Several moms that went into labor a week or two before I did expressed being “unemotional” toward their babies and “not feeling anything” for them during first week or so. It was a frightening experience reading about them not even wanting to hold their baby or barely look at them because they had no exciting feelings about it. This is a typical situation for numerous moms, but I could never imagine not welcoming my son into the world because he didn’t give me any emotion after carrying him for nine months. I could never imagine him becoming more attached to his father because I want nothing to do with feeding him, giving him baths, or even playing with him. Yet, those same moms and their posts provided me with an awareness causing me to pray about it…A LOT.

It’s like I felt as if I might birth a complete stranger…

Strangers make me uncomfortable, but what happened was exactly what I was told would occur…it became so natural for me and I’m not only comfortable with being a second time mom, I’m much better for it. My heart literally overflows when I look at them both and I couldn’t imagine life without either of them. Seeing them interact together is something that I could sit and watch all day. The length of their time with me on this earth isn’t a factor, neither is their gender, or how they were conceived/birthed, nor by whom. I love them both to death and would do anything and everything for them. This makes me realize the true meaning of motherhood and raising children only the best way that I can. Fear and nervousness for them has been the most obvious sign of giving a shit for someone like me. I’d rather have some type of emotion than to have none at all. I may not be considered the greatest or even a traditional mom, but what can we truly consider “traditional”? What defines a “good mom”? I may be the tattooed, dark liquor drinking, party loving, piercings everywhere, marijuana supporting mom that most would look down upon when it comes to raising children. We as moms make mistake DAILY, and a good mom to me is one whose children consistently have smiles plastered on their faces. A good mom puts her children above all of her selfish desires first while still being happy enough to make time for herself, because she knows self care is also necessary for their happiness. This journey has been a wild ride and one of self wisdom, because I now know who I am and the type of mom I strive to be, one that loves both of her kids with all of her heart and soul.

“Retrospective” By Robin Chapppell

Photo by Sam Kolder on Pexels.com

Don’t take me back there

To those cold nights when the sky fell on my head

The stars were thrown at me like sharp spurs

And I took the pain of every single one

Instead of red, I bled the color of a deep blue

The midnight one in the hundred color crayon box-

I would often show off for you like that

Pulling out the variety box in front of the entire class

Complete with the sharpener on the back…

Just for them all to realize exactly what they lacked

I gained more during those times with you

More than I ever knew could be realized

When I drowned in the midnight blue of the skies

A deceptive feeling of beauty between the ugly lines

I was crossed out as if I could ever be placed on a list

No access for me inside of a melancholy place like this

“Montgomery’s Black Face” By Robin Chappell

African-Americans currently populate 60% of Montgomery, Alabama, the heart of the civil rights movement. 28.5% own their own business and more than 85% are living in poverty…something is missing.”

Photo Credits: Robin Chappell (Downtown Montgomery)

When riding around through the city of Montgomery I would like you to notice something. Whether it’s dining, nightlife, or shopping, take a moment to look around and to reflect on how much Black culture that you see and hear of daily, maybe even weekly. The type you don’t have to search for, hear about from another Black person, or go on a specific Facebook page to find information surrounding it. How many businesses can you think of that are easily accessible and well known if you choose to shop at a Black owned business on a whim for something as simple as groceries? If we, as African-Americans chose to go on strike and shop ONLY BLACK in our city…how effective do you believe it would be? Keeping in mind that it would mean, protesting all that is not Black owned or created, which would mean transportation, food, attire, and even down to the importance of your cell phone. We would be homeless, without a car, and without many basic necessities we depend on, but are distributed only through White businesses.

I believe it to be a redundant contradiction that we choose to live in a city where change and the freedom to be great as an African-American should be the most embraced, but appears to be practically nonexistent. The culture and the determination should be loud and saturate the streets of Montgomery, not only for it’s citizens, but for those who visit a location known for it’s deep history in the Black culture. Instead we battle the uncontrollable plight of gentrification when it comes to housing and the placement of Black businesses in the region.

“Unforgettable”
Photo Credits: Robin Chappell, Downtown Montgomery

The impact of revenue generated when we “Buy Black” would not only help build a city that deserves to be truly recognized for Black culture and business, but one that possesses the majority of that culture. The answers have been in front of us for decades and continue to remain apparent when it comes to supporting our own, it just isn’t being done.

The worst observation I’ve come to notice since moving to Montgomery is the abundance of complaints, sabotage, and crime against one another pitted against the lack of knowledge, support and humility we have given each other to succeed as a team. I am ready to stop the constant jealousy and hate we have toward each other that has only ruined blessings and opportunities we need to create. When one of us achieves success in owning a steady flowing business, it’s always disappointing to ask that in individual how they created that path, what steps they took, and what they plan to do with those steps to create a foundation of anything. We rarely give the real answers which could help our people become equally or more successful than we are and instead have been selfishly basking in that information without spreading it to others. This will always be our downfall.

Poverty in Montgomery, AL By Race and Ethnicity (2017)
Photo Credits: https://datausa.io/profile/geo/montgomery-al/

There has been a constant struggle within us when it comes to providing genuine support. As an author, I have received questions surrounding discounts for my books and even receiving a book completely free…only from Black people…MY people. Being completely unaware of how much sweat, tears, and sleepless nights go into chasing your dreams is one thing; but to look one of your own people in the face in an attempt to low ball their ability to carryout that mission is an insult. It is what I would like to focus my attention on eliminating in 2020.

My vision is to highlight and promote each Black owned business, beginning with the city of Montgomery, and then journeying to other Civil Rights locations in Alabama; such as Selma, Tuskegee, and Huntsville. Reputable Black owned businesses have been serving our community for as many as 10-20 years, operating mainly under regular clientele and word of mouth. What if we could boost their reputations by not only spreading the word to those who may not have experienced their services before, but also ensure anyone who visits and tours the city of Montgomery has more access to them and their information?

The truth is that I discovered the longest running businesses are owned by those we would see as our grandparents, middle-aged aunts and uncles, and what I also call “social media apethists”. They have absolutely no interest in social media and barely know where to start when it comes to using it as a tool for promotion of their business to the masses. They sometimes simply don’t feel they need it, and most of the time they don’t; but what about those that do? Magazines such as Gump Town Magazine and In City Mag are great literary sources in Montgomery, AL that provide information on many Black owned business in the area, including those in Prattville, Wetumpa, and Millbrook. There are Facebook pages, websites, and flyers, but it’s 2020 and we deserve an app that truly celebrates us by highlighting the experience that was gained when visiting their establishment. Several years ago there were articles that ranked Montgomery, AL as number two for having the most Black owned businesses in the nation. If we still hold the title, why do things seem a little too silent around here?

http://www.blackmainstreet.net/montgomery-ranks-number-two-usa-black-businesses/

The apps surrounding Black owned businesses and accessing their information, including finding their locations have already been released and become successful in helping “Buy Black” but I find it to a certain extent. Once a business is logged into the app, it even incorporates GPS to assist in directing you to a Black owned business, as well as giving a notification when it’s nearby. Black owned businesses are at your fingertips and categorized by their fields and specialties on several free downloadable apps, such Official Black Wall Street, WeBuyBlack.com, and Afroworld.

So, I decided to give them a try and see just how many businesses would pop up in Montgomery, Alabama; since categories such as hair, MUA, lawn and maintenance, and restaurants are included. Each search result produced “NO RESULTS” for Montgomery and in order for Black owned businesses to be included, they would have to visit the website themselves and enter their information to be featured. There is a $50 one time fee to join and enter your business, which seems fair for the upkeep and cost to run the app while helping promote businesses. The website WeBuyBlack is actually for those who would like to earn revenue in selling Black owned products. For $30 it helps you set up a vendor account and earn commission with your own online store selling specific products where 10% is earned by WeBuyBlack and 90% is given to the seller. Not bad.

I’m all for sites promoting Black owned businesses, but this year what I would like to put my primary focus and energy into specifically is the promotion and awareness of Black owned business in the city of Montgomery and how we can become better in creating more revenue in our communities to help eliminate poverty and provide better support for our neighborhoods and our schools. Through my non-profit Harmonious Grace, Inc, I would like to start with creating a website and a book that is similar to a “Green Book”. A Green Book, also known as The Negro Motorist Green Book, like the movie, it was a written record of business that are Black owned or Black “friendly” during the time of Jim Crow laws and segregation. Although we are no longer battling segregation or Jim Crow, we still battle the silence of how amazing doing business with African-Americans can feel! I would like to create a website and eventually an app that provides information and locations about reputable Black owned business in Montgomery, the difference being that I will personally interview each business, enter their information and ensure that most if not all reputable Black owned businesses operating in Montgomery are featured. These businesses should be easily accessible and found on ANY website promoting Black owned business and revenue without having to do all of the work they are unaware they need to do in the first place.

We are a city who’s streets bear the struggle and the fight for us to be treated equal, vote, and even receive the right to sit and eat where we please as human beings. Black History Month is slowly approaching and I’m sure there will be the dozens of programs promoting positive Black history, parades, business expos, and future plans for African-Americans to have a better presence in Montgomery. I’d like to be one of those not only speaking of change, but making that change happen for the better. My journey will begin with touring the city of Montgomery during the next several months to interview Black owned businesses about their history, the reason they started, how long they’ve been in business and what their plans are for the future. This information will then be compiled to a website focusing on Montgomery and generating more revenue where it should be, in the Black Community. Following my project, I am will be working hard to ensure all businesses will be accessible through an app that is free to download and directs all tourist and residents to Black owned businesses throughout the city. There are entirely too many that are not included on websites or highlighted by social media.

If you know of any Black owned businesses that have provided great services or products to your life and deserve to be feature, please send them to my direct email at robic19@gmail.com or comment directly beneath this post. I plan to interview each business, no matter the location in Montgomery or the service! Thank you for your help and your continued support for all that I strive to do! It’s now time that we strive together.

Changing our momentum one crown at a time.”