The Golden Opportunity: Sexuality & the Deconstruction of the Baby-Mama Mythology.

Acclaimed poet and performing artist Roger Bonair-Agard is the first guest to be featured in Beyond Baby Mama’s Affirming Black Fatherhood Series. Every day this week, as a lead-in to Father’s Day, we’ll be featuring the experiences and insights of unmarried minority fathers. We are proud to present his story. 

Roger Bonair-Agard

Having spent three great (albeit tumultuous, on a personal front) years in Chicago, I was about to return to my beloved Brooklyn. Half of my stuff was packed. My moving date was two weeks away. I was scheduled to attend a wedding the following day with an on again/off again lover, whom I had dated fairly consistently when I first moved to Chicago, but now we saw each other every other week or so after having gone through a stretch of time when we had broken up and didn’t get down at all. It seemed like it’d be a chill enough road trip to go with her to her cousin’s wedding – a six-hour jaunt to Cincinnati. But she wanted to talk to me that night, the night before we left – urgently. I couldn’t understand why because we were going to be sitting in a car for six hours the following day. So I meet with her and she drops The News. I’m stunned. She was on the pill. I ask, “What do you want to do?” She says, “Oh, I’m keeping it…”

Three months later I’m having coffee with a friend I haven’t seen in years in a coffee shop at the corner of Franklin and Fulton in what used to be one of the most gully neighborhoods in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. This woman is a brilliant, thoughtful, sensitive, poet with whom I went to college. We’ve enjoyed a parallel poetic literary evolution in the world, even publishing books with the same press. My time in Brooklyn now is temporary as I make plans to return to Chicago in time for the birth and to figure out how and where I will be a father and co-parent. I tell her the story of how the ‘news’ got dropped on me. She says, “You know… I don’t believe a woman ever traps a man, but you ain’t exactly freed a nigga either. That’s that shit I call The Abstracted Trap.” We bust out laughing over our expensive coffees, can’t stop giggling for five minutes before we return to the morning sport of hipster-watching.

Continue reading “The Golden Opportunity: Sexuality & the Deconstruction of the Baby-Mama Mythology.”

14 Lies Single Mothers Hear About Marriage.

A single mother’s ears are always burning. People just can’t seem to resist talking about us. I wrote about the tendency society has to talk about — not to — unmarried mothers for The Atlantic last weekend (and if you haven’t already, take a minute to bookmark The Atlantic’s Sexes channel, where our article appeared. It’s great!), but what I didn’t say is that we aren’t completely ignored when talk of marriage emerges. Sometimes, people do, in fact, address us directly. And when they do, it’s hard to believe some of the things that come up.

Here are a few of the untruths and half-truths we single mothers are often told about marriage. (If you’ve heard one we haven’t mentioned, feel free to add your own in our comments section.)

1. If he left, he never loved you.

We get this one a lot — and if someone believes this, there’s little you can say to convince them otherwise. Fortunately, you don’t have to. Loving and leaving are not mutually exclusive. The former isn’t always enough to prevent the latter. As painful as it is to have someone walk away from a relationship — especially after children — the last thing you need to feel is pressure to defend yourself as lovable.

2. If he’d married you, he wouldn’t have left so easily/quickly/cavalierly.

Not only does this comment assume your partner left “easily,” it also presumes that marrying a person who would be inclined to leave at all would somehow change his core personality. Legally, marriage makes dissolving a romantic partnership more difficult. But it doesn’t prevent a partner from walking away, especially if he would consider a child, a hardship, or an emotional trigger as a reason to do so.

3. If you’ve been married before, you’re not “really” a single mother.

Women from various backgrounds and with a number of different relationship statuses identify as single. Divorced women are among them. In some cases, they are the sole or primary caregivers and providers for their children.

Continue reading “14 Lies Single Mothers Hear About Marriage.”