Black Mamas must lead
In its natural form, the maternal instinct is a powerful and motivating force. I’ve only seen it muted or repressed by mental illness and drug abuse.
Advisory: Don’t get between a mother and her child!
Whether it’s around gun violence, the opioid epidemic or gendered violence, women feel deeply committed to working on solutions to these life-
threatening issues. After all, it’s mothers and women who are intimately connected to the pain and suffering of these issues because it directly
involves them and their loved ones.

A recent Essence survey of Black women put criminal justice and police accountability at the top of our list of concerns. The ‘Power of the Sister
Vote’ report is in partnership with the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. Gun violence was also rated high. The report is a look into the
hearts and minds of Black women as we look at the next election cycle. Who has been at the ugly nexus of racist violence and children more than
Black women?

In St. Louis, we endured a bloody summer. The number of children lost to gun violence inches towards
twenty. The tears of families have created rivers of pain — not just in my city but in urban centers across the nation.  

Wisconsin has some dismal statistics of its own. Too many of your gun deaths are suicides. The Violence Policy Center puts the state’s Black
homicide victimization rate at nearly twice the national average. The weapon of choice was frequently guns. The state is also at the top of the list for
over-incarceration of Black folks. The systems of oppression are all guilty as charged.
The Naked
by Jamala Rogers
Last year, there were about 60,000 children and adults who became
victims of gun violence. That same year, we lost over 68,000 lives to
drug overdoses. The actual number of fatalities don’t tell the whole
story. Guns and drugs are like boulders being dropped in a pond. They
produce massive ripples in communities. There’s trauma. There are
permanent injuries, both physical and psychological. There are lost
wages for households. While the impact is greater in poor communities
and communities of color, these two issues transcend race and
economic status.

When you take gun violence and the drug epidemic and wrap around
the myriad of issues created by the capitalist system like inferior
education system or lack of accessible health care, our challenges
seem greater. The interconnected web of these issues tightens the
noose around individual potential as well as the sustainability of
communities already in the crosshairs. We’re up against a white
supremacist power structure that has concluded we have no worth.

Mothers are rising up — despite their grief and sometimes because of
that grief — to make their voices heard in more strategic ways than the
past. One of those ways is at the ballot box. So, in the next election
cycle, we should be looking for new alliances. We should look at
creative and impactful tactics that get us to winning. That’s the
movement women and their allies are building right now. Children must
be at the center.

Black mamas have carried extraordinary burdens over the last 400
years. We understand how America’s practices, policies and laws have
negatively impacted our bodies, our communities and our futures. We
have some new allies in the fight to save children. Let’s unite around
our shared values and the love for our children. Let’s build a robust
movement and make our maternal might felt at the ballot box in 2020.
And beyond.