• A member of the Black Mothers group with her baby. (Supplied )Source: Supplied
When I was pregnant, I realised I only had a couple of friends with children and they were not black. I went looking for community and when I couldn’t find it, I decided to create it.
Sahra Tohow, Sydnye Allen

2 Aug 2018 - 8:44 AM  UPDATED 12 Oct 2021 - 4:36 PM

I started the Black Mothers group when I was pregnant with my son last year. I wanted a safe place where I could meet like-minded women who could talk about the nuances of being a black mother and raising black children. 

I was worried about how my son would experience the world as a biracial child and wanted to ensure he had children around him who looked like him so he would have a strong identity.  

As a black woman with biracial heritage, I knew the importance of having other black mothers, black and biracial children around my growing family. I knew too well what it felt like to grow up without community and how that deeply impacted my identity. My hopes were that my son wouldn't experience this longing and would have a strong sense of self. When I was pregnant, I realised I only had a couple of friends with children and they were not black. I went looking for community and when I couldn’t find it, I decided to create it. Black Mothers Group was formed and slowly but surely the numbers trickled in and now we have around 200 lovely members who I call friends. 

The Black Mothers Group holds regular catch ups. We are also strong online community. It is a safe place where we can talk freely about being a black mother and raising black children - the challenges we face and the beauty of who we are. 

Black Mother’s Group acknowledges Australia’s history of disenfranchisement and discrimination towards black people and how the colonial history of abuses of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continues to negatively impact communities.  Black Mothers Group provides a foundation for black children to belong to a community, where they see themselves reflected and honoured. 

The Black Mother Group members are mothers who identify as black women from the African Diaspora. Some members are expats from overseas including the US, the UK and countries on the African continent and others were born and raised in Australia. The members come together with shared understanding of lived experiences. It’s a place where everyone can be their authentic selves and talk openly about their experiences and fears without prejudice, recognising the complexity of black identities. Together the members nurture resilient, strong identities and create the  world they want for  their children. 

As mothers we want to create a safe space for ourselves and our children to shine in a world that otherwise sees us in the margins or as exceptions. When we gather as a collective, our strength and beauty empower us to heal, renew and prepare us to return to communities where we are few in number. Many of our group members belong to other mothers groups. What is missing from those group experiences are the conversations and solutions for navigating the nuanced experiences of being black in Australia. 

Sydnye Allen, Black Mothers Group member 

During the first trimester of my pregnancy, a friend told me about Black Mothers Group. I was surprised and excited. I knew how important the group would be to so many mothers. My partner and I are alone in Australia. We migrated to Australia from the US in 2011. I knew I needed support during pregnancy and after my son was born in February this year. Sahra and I became friends through the group. We met at a café when her son was three and a half months old and I was 18 weeks pregnant. Through the group, another mother advised me to use a birth support doula and shared information on the group’s Facebook page. I took the advice and located a student doula through the Australian Doula College. As a result, I had a successful vaginal birth after caesarean.

Photo credit: Teniola Komolafe 

During my pregnancy, I met up with other mothers and children. I felt I already had a community when my son was born. Sahra visited us in hospital and during the first week at home. Sahra’s firsthand experience, support and gentle guidance was invaluable to me because I didn’t have any family members. The community based mothers groups in my local area meet when children are around six to eight weeks old. By that time we have already faced some of the toughest struggles. Without Black Mothers Group, I would have faced countless struggles through those challenging early weeks with my baby and felt alone. 

Black Mothers Group meet up weekly in Sydney’s inner-west. For more information visit www.august-inc.com.

Our African Roots premieres at 8:30pm Sunday 17 October on SBS and SBS On Demand, as part of the Australia Uncovered strand of documentaries. All documentaries will be repeated at 10pm Wednesdays on SBS VICELAND from 15 September.

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