juju angeles is a single mother on mission. A poet, educator, and activist, juju is raising money to send herself and her young daughter, Zion, on an multi-leg trip through Jamaica, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. The purposes: for her daughter to meet both sides of her extended family for the first time and for both mother and child to experience summer roadschooling.
Since this is Class and Money Matters Week here at Beyond Baby Mamas, it’s important to highlight stories like juju’s, which are almost never considered in discourse on the ways that class and income impact single parenting. Because international travel is so cost-prohibitive, juju hasn’t been able to afford the trips that would help her young daughter connect with grandparents and extended family.
We rarely discuss how difficult it is for the villagers to help to raise the child when the village is too far away for a single parent to afford visiting. Consider this New York Times piece on young, affluent couples who believe living in close proximity to their children’s grandparents is so important that they’re paying for nearby apartments. Consider also an AARP study reporting that 80 percent of grandparents over 45 believe it’s important to live near their children and grandchildren. When healthy, a grandparent-grandchild relationship cannot be replicated, for its love, lessons, and history.
Now think of all the one-income, single-parent families who have little to no agency in ensuring that their children get to spend time with their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other extended family. Think of all the families who never get to experience their countries of origin or their family history firsthand.
In addition to familial bonding, juju also hopes that the trip will serve the dual purpose of supplementing her daughter’s early public school education. She intends to teach her daughter, who will be entering first grade this fall, to read, write, and do basic math, while exposing her to geographical and cultural history. It’s rare for single mothers of color to have so much dedicated time to spend supplementing the education our children should be receiving at their public schools.
juju has fearlessly and admirably embarked on a fundraising campaign to help her afford each leg of travel. You can contribute and read updates here.
Read juju’s story, in her own words, below.