I have always had the benefit of amazing mothers in my life, and for years I’ve considered who – and what, exactly – we celebrate on Mother’s Day.
Don’t get me wrong, I am ALWAYS looking for a good excuse to celebrate the Mothers in my life! I am a proud daughter of a brilliant mother AND mother-in-law (Go Martha!!! She’s playing BASS at LRC!), artists and advocates both. My great-grandmother is an unapologetic black woman, who’s witnessed Suffrage, Sister Rosetta, Civil Rights and everything in between. I am the ancestor of women who survived and loved fiercely enough to live on in me. I am a friend, colleague and collaborator of incredible womyn who continuously amaze me with the families, art and insight they birth.
That being said, the more I spend time reflecting on the various intersections of oppression, I can’t help but see how wishing someone a happy Mother’s day can be an exclusionary, and hurtful. For many, the holiday is inaccessible because of cultural bias, systemic injustice, loss and trauma. This spring, our LRC weekend happens to coincide with Mother’s Day weekend and, as a staff, we gave pause to reflect: what does it mean to care for our community in relationship to the second Sunday in May?
In the context of GRP, Mother’s day bring the notion of Feminine Leadership to mind: to quote adrienne maree brown, feminine leadership means not just women leaders, but leaders who shift our understanding of how power can be held.
At Girls Rock Philly, we recognize music as a transformative force; one which cultivates joy, heals trauma, transcends boundaries, transforms systems. We’re interested in making space for grief in a world where that may be taboo, for understanding that gender is a galaxy, and that the identity ‘Mother’ ought not be limited by discrimination, bias, oppression or fear. Mother’s Day means so many things to so many people, and our new cohort of LRC Alums, represents the spectrum all of those lived experiences.
On Mother’s Day, GRP aspires to celebrate those people who shift our understanding of how power can be held, how people can be cared for, and how we can collectively build our world better. We’re working in solidarity with Philadelphia Community Bail Fund, as they prepare for the second annual Mamas Day Bail Out: a national action to free Black mothers and caregivers from jails across the country, and to highlight the movement to end cash bail and pretrial detention. This nationwide action also centers mothers in all their varieties – trans, queer, immigrant, youth, elder. Last year PCBF raised $60,000 from small individual donations and posted bail for 13 mamas so that they could be home with their families. This year, they’re hoping to raise $75,000 to free as many Black mamas as possible who are incarcerated in Philly jails- all of our merch sales at LRC will go toward that effort!
We are also honored to have the support this weekend of Philly Childcare Collective, a group of volunteers and organizers who offer childcare to mothers and caregivers for activist trainings, meetings, and events. Because caring for our families ought not be an impediment to our work! We are grateful for their support!
When we starfish this weekend, I invite us to do it with the understanding that we are pressing the boundaries and barriers imposed on us by limiting beliefs, and building community which is equitable, which is just, which is compassionate and sustainable. We honor those who gave us life, who nourished our growth, who teach and guide us, those who are no longer with us, who are rendered invisible by the systems that will not recognize their motherhood, those who grieve and suffer today.
We are the result of the love of thousands, and have been raised to dismantle the systems that divide us, and build the world we imagine. Until we’re all free. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
Aside from “the state of being a mother,” Webster’s Dictionary also offers a definition for Motherhood as follows:
By that definition, GRP & Mother’s Day will get along just fine.
Happy Motherhood Day, from me (Samantha Rise), & Girls Rock Philly.