We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black Motherhood (Hardcover)
A warm, wise, and urgent guide to parenting in uncertain times, from a longtime reporter on race, reproductive health, and politics
In We Live for the We, first-time mother Dani McClain sets out to understand how to raise her daughter in what she, as a black woman, knows to be an unjust -- even hostile -- society. Black women are more likely to die during pregnancy or birth than any other race; black mothers must stand before television cameras telling the world that their slain children were human beings. What, then, is the best way to keep fear at bay and raise a child so she lives with dignity and joy?
McClain spoke with mothers on the frontlines of movements for social, political, and cultural change who are grappling with the same questions. Following a child's development from infancy to the teenage years, We Live for the We touches on everything from the importance of creativity to building a mutually supportive community to navigating one's relationship with power and authority. It is an essential handbook to help us imagine the society we build for the next generation.
About the Author
Dani McClain reports on race and reproductive health. She is a contributing writer at the Nation and a fellow with Type Media Center (formerly the Nation Institute). McClain's writing has appeared in outlets including Slate, Talking Points Memo, Colorlines, EBONY.com, and The Rumpus. She was a staff reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and has worked as a strategist with organizations including Color of Change and the Drug Policy Alliance. McClain lives with her family in Cincinnati.
"Dani McClain charts the rich territory of black motherhood, an element of American life that is overlooked and undervalued even as our society benefits from its tenacity and love. We Live for the We is deeply researched, compassionately reported, and soars with the beauty and urgency of McClain's truest expertise: her own life as a black woman raising a young daughter. Parenting is political and we all have much to learn from the work McClain chronicles in these pages. This book is a gift, and it is for everyone."—Angela Garbes, author of Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey through the Science and Culture ofPregnancy
"Dani McClain's We Live for the We is more than a reimagining of motherhood. It's an equally soulful and skillful immersion into the questions of how we go beyond survival in a nation intent on the suffering of Black mothers and their children. The book refuses to let us run, every paragraph seeking the contour of who we really are in the dark and how our children will be protected, loved, and tenderly allowed to fail and grow by parents willing to revise what we've all been taught. This is the rare book that will change lives and public policy."—Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir
"Motherhood is one of the most contested and policed categories that black women occupy in American society. With her intellectual gravitas, gifted storytelling, and feminist insights, Dani McClain's We Live for We brilliantly chronicles how African-American women confront these contradictions as deeply political and personal acts. This book is a timely, compassionate, and eye-opening contribution to our most pressing debates about race and gender."—Salamishah Tillet, Henry Rutgers Professor of African American and African Studies and Creative Writing
"We Live for the We is a crucial chapter in the history of Black motherhood as a political act. Enslaved mothers taught their babies to read without being discovered, now Black mothers must teach our children to stay safe from police, from sexual predators, from racist teachers. McClain shows that we must be strategic with our rage and still vulnerable with our love -- our political work requires this range. This text showcases the harsh realities of Black motherhood and the best solutions currently available, while pointing to the ways we must still change everything for the sake of our children."—dream hampton, writer, filmmaker, and organizer, andproducer of Surviving R. Kelly
effective birth control, survived childhood sexual abuse, or were prematurely
sterilized. These experiences shaped our understandings of pregnancy and
motherhood. Dani McClain both acknowledges and departs from these painful
realities with her portrait of motherhood as an act of liberation. She offers a
window into the granularity of the challenges millennials face when parenting.
This book describes parenting choices as empowering and bewildering at the same
time and, in doing so, portrays the heart of Black mothering."
bridges realism with idealism, and critique with our shared craving for the
better world all of our children deserve. Generations of parents and
community members will use this book to make decisions, to revive our hope, and
to teach each other about the implications of difference in a stratified
society. Most importantly, for me, this book engages and continues the
brave multi-generational tradition of Black mothers sharing their own
experiences and their revolutionary visions for the benefit of all people. Thank
you, Dani McClain, for bringing your hardest questions, your rigorous
observations, your priceless relationship with your daughter, and your open
heart to this necessary work."
"I read this book shouting 'YES!', throwing up praise hands, pacing the floor, overcome with gratitude! We Live for the We is a glorious exploration of how we outgrow the isolating terror of oppression and lean into the interdependent wisdom of love. McClain asks questions that require readers to change -- change how we think of single parents, of discipline, good births, freedom, education, autonomy, community, safety, and ultimately, power. Conversational and precise, McClain uncovers roots of white supremacy, patriarchy and capitalism in the ground beneath our children's feet. Parents and caregivers of all backgrounds can learn from McClain's deft reporting and storytelling, but Black mothers (and grandis, grammis, grandmas, aunties, sisters, godmothers, midwives, doulas and friends) will learn while also feeling celebrated and loved for how we have lived a legacy of village building, how we have survived the impossible together, and how we are responsible for a thriving Black future."—adrienne maree brown, author of EmergentStrategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good and co-editor of Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Storiesfrom Social Justice Movements
show the world just how powerful and transformative radical Black motherhood is
and always has been. This path can be very isolating at times but it's
refreshing to see that I'm not alone in this process and now other moms, dads,
and allies will have the tools to join the fight to make the next generation
more self-possessed and feminist than those before them."