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Finding Young Parents Of Color

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > All Kinds of Families > African-American Families > Finding Young Parents Of Color


April 2003

Our first baby is due on May 23rd and we are what most of the parents on this network are: well educated, and extremely thorough about researching what is best for our child and family. We've taken and are taking some very valuable childbirth classes throughout the pregnancy and are currently enrolled in Zann Ericks great childbirth prep class. However, the one thing that both my husband and I have been unable to find is a real community of new parents that are comfortable meeting with and sharing experiences outside of class with parents of color opr those from a lower socio-economic status. In every class we have attended we are the only people of color, and are in the minority in terms of our age (25), and economic status. At the major resource store here in San Francisco (Natural Resources) I've found that the people there make a lot of assumptions about me based on my appearance and have had some of the clerks give me very condescending unsolicited advice. Other times I've tried to strike up conversations with other mothers or mothers-to-be and found they look at me like we couldn't possibly have anything to talk about. It is very frustrating.

I am beginning to worry because as I near the big day I have read and heard from other parents that isolation is a big contributor to the post-partum blues, and I already suffer from depression. We are the only people in our circle of friends that are having and will have a baby. My girlfriend suggested that we each join a new parents group, but we are concerned that these groups will similiarly lack in diversity and leave us feeling as isolated and alienated as many of the groups in the classes we've attended have. We'd love to reach out, and don't need everyone to look like us for us to feel comfortable, in fact we are dedicated to raising our children around the diversity we have been so blessed to enjoy. However, we would like to find some groups in San Francisco (this is where we live), or in the east bay if necessary, that are welcoming to people of color as raising children of color presents its own diverse challenges and gifts. Please let me know if you have any suggestions on where we could look...thanks so much for listening.


Suggest a visit to Birth and bonding center in Berkeley, they host new parent classes and groups. Suggest East Bay Moms, look for like families in that list. Suggest Berkeley Montessori Preschool, with diverse family community. We live in Oakland, and have little experience in San Francisco. Keep looking. What you want is out there. Theresa
It might not be what you're looking for, as it was specifically a mom's group, but I happened upon a ''Mocha Mom's'' group last friday AM at the Emeryville Barnes & Noble. Our family is not, uh, eligible, but they were great and welcomed my son and me around the train table while they met. Anyway, it turns out that it's a pretty big group with various chapters, the Emeryville one being relatively new. Lots of new babies. They were very nice women, and all seemed to be of the socioeconomic/age groups you were interested in connecting with. Jean
bummed to hear that you're facing such stereotyping in s.f. of all places. i too have been looking for a community of ethnically diverse (and in my case, also politically progressive) parents with young children. we really enjoy family music shows at the ashkenaz on san pablo, near gilman in berkeley. i find the attendees to be open-minded, friendly and pretty ethnically diverse. congrats on your baby-to-be. feel free to email me. -- cindy
Hi, Just so you know... I have had similar experiences at Natural resources in SF (I am not of color.) The same condescension first timers might get as a meat eater at an ultra spiritual yoga studio. Have you tried DayOne? http://www.dayonecenter.com/ Good Luck! Tam
Hello, I can relate to your posting 100%. We are also a young family of color. We would love to talk and meet you and your family. I could have written this post before my daughter was born. I would suggest that you keep reaching out. Don't let a few people ''burst your bubble'' ie...the unsolicited advice givers...there are many very nice people within this network. Please feel free to call or email me if you like. Camille
Hi! I absolutely understand what you are saying and am very interested to read what other people will have to say. We used to live in Noe Valley and racial diversity is THE reason we moved out to Oakland. My kids were always the only African- Americans anywhere I would take them. It was getting uncomfortable. It is very hard to find what you are looking for in SF. I found that affluent people of color in SF are scattered all over. And then wait until it's time for your kid to go to school... I, too, had ''the look'' but I got used to it because of the type of family we are: my husband and I are white and we have 2 African-American boys and one Caucasiand girl and we speak French on top of it. E-mail me and we can chat further about playgroups in Noe Valley and Oakland. marie-claude
I can truly relate to what you are saying. I have found a small community of good friends to share in the experience of raising my daughter. But, as i just said, it is small. Please write me to talk about this in more detail. Gail
You are wise. I never realized how important the support of other moms would be till I was kneee deep in feeling lonely. It is great to get your support system in place while pregnant, although those who were there during pregnancy (lots) are nto the ones there afterwards!) I also found that mothers of slightly older children made the best support in general.

If I use labels to describe myself, I am an immigrant, single mother of color with a multi-ethnic child who stays at home(what a mouthful!), and I found all the groups I joined were mostly married and caucasian with their own homes, etc... Somehow I still expected to fit in as I always connect with diverse groups, but I never did. One exception was MOCHA (Stay at Home Mothers of Color)advertised on Oprah, where I felt we could talk about real life issues with people of various backgrounds and where I could see people like me! Here is the contact for the lady who runs it in Oakland - Kalybsmommy@aol.com. They have a national website: www.mochamoms.org where you can post for San Francisco groups. There is also a group for young moms of color - it is in Oakland on Grand Ave run by a group that supports Native Americans or something. Sorry I can't find the contact right now.

I also actively recruited moms in the park by talking and exchanging numbers whenever I met someone I liked. It is amazingly easy to chat with strangers when you have children in tow. A few of these have paid off over time. I've still only found one mom of color I feel is a friend. But I have other moms that I really like now.

My best findings recently has been hooking up with people who share most of my concerns - single moms, regardless of ethnicity, or kids ages. We are finding ways to support - not just talk. I'm still sad that my old friends can't fit into my new life. I honestly think only a mom really 'gets' what it is like to be a mom. But my circle expands daily. Keep searching as you've done on this network and do it elsewhere too. You can form a group in your area just by asking for it online and in local cafes. I found a mom in my neighborhood on craigs list! Keep reaching out and don't give up, because no matter how easy your child and childbirth are (mine was made in heaven!) you still need support of other moms. I wish you the best of luck and congratulations for planning ahead. All the best! mamainama


Bananas is the name of a wonderful parenting/ families community resource center in Oakland. Although you may not want to come all the way over here, you could call them and see if there is a similar organization in San Francisco. Bananas is located on Claremont Blvd. near the 51st Street and Telegraph intersection, right off Highway 24. Just some of the resources at Bananas include:
support groups of all kinds
parenting classes
child care provider classes and workshops
quarterly newsletter that includes listings for babysitting,
nanny share, playgroups, etc. FREE
info and assistance in choosing child care FREE
child care listings, FREE
People that use/ work at Bananas are the rainbow of colors and they want to help you find high quality resources at lowest cost. Take care! Tiffany
My husband and I had a similar experience in terms of classes. I joined a new-moms group at the Birth and Bonding center in Albany (on Solano) and have been happy with the diversity of that group. My husband and I are in our early 30s and our child is 4 months old - we are more than willing to share experiences and open to meeting if you would like to. We live in Richmond in the east bay. Good luck and let me know if you would like to talk/get together. Kristin
Your post definitely resonated with us. We are a couple of color in the East Bay, educated professionals, 30 and 33 years old, and parents of a beautiful 6-month old boy. (We also graduated from Zann Erick's childbirth class!) We have had similar experiences to yours when we walk our son through the neighborhood, the park, and the world of baby stores, ranging from a vague feeling that we don't ''belong,'' to condescending behavior and exclusion from conversations. It has definitely made our new parent experience more difficult, especially making me feel lonely and isolated at times (I recently made the career change to full-time stay-at-home mom). I got pregnant shortly after we moved to CA from the east coast, so I didn't know many people at all (and none who were/are expecting). I really expected to start meeting folks once our son was born by making the rounds of mothers' groups, playgrounds, etc. but this has proven to be more difficult than I imagined. I have met some wonderful people, but as you say, diversity of age, income, ethnicity, and experience have been hard to come by. The ''diversity'' of the Bay Area is so often extolled, but I have to ask, where is that diversity when it comes to family life? Needless to say, we were thrilled to see your post.

We don't know of any parenting groups that emphasize the needs and experiences of families of color, but (1) we will be eagerly scanning for other replies to your message which may have more information, and (2) if no group like this exists, why not create that community for ourselves? Feel free to contact us at any time; we'd love to talk. Devanie and Francisco


I totally understand your plight. My husband and I have been in the same situation. However, we are of the same or perhaps higher socioeconomic status as many people we have met in prenatal classes and other classes we attended prior to the birth of our son. We recently moved to the Bay Area from the east coast. We are a family of color and enjoyed a vibrant multiracial/multicultural social community while we lived on the east coast. Because I have always thought of the Bay Area as loaded with progressive people I was very surprised at the reception we received here when we attempted to approach folks socially. I am an attorney and my husband is a professor and attorney. We have three very beautiful children. My sense of isolation was far greater than my husband's because for the first year and a half I was a SAHM living in an upper middle class neighborhood in Berkeley where ours was probably one of three families of color. The other families had no children. (Well, you get the picture.) Were it not for my husband's professional contractual obligations here, we would have returned to the east coast shortly after our son was born.

You are not imagining things. The isolation is real. People do treat you as though 1) you are an alien; 2) that you have no business attempting to interact with them given your differences; 3) that those differences can never be bridged; etc. etc. Anyhow, like many people of color who have come before us, the onus is on us to make the moves. We must overcome the hesitancy we feel in making an attempt to connect with folks, regardless of our fear of rejection. One thing that helped me to overcome those feelings was the notion that if the person rejects or rebuffs my friendship, then it is her/his loss. I am a vibrant, fun, and open person who is willing to have many different kinds of experiences. I believe that my many experiences and my openess to people has made me a better person. You sound like you are that kind of person and I admire you for that. People who are willing to emerge from their protective cocoons to interact with people of different races and cultures despite the prospect of rejection in my opinion are better for the experiences. I did find however, that after I made my initial connections with people then those connections led to others and so on. The other thing I did was to ask the few people we knew here to put me in touch with other people in the area who have a similar background as mine.

The bottom line is this, you cannot single handedly change the way people think in terms of race and ethnicity, but you can change the way you think and feel about yourself. I believe that if we approach people who are already prejudiced with an anticipation for rejection, they will sense your hesitancy and feel that they do not have to meet you half-way to do the work of socializing.

I cannot give you recommendations for any such established groups in San Francisco, but I would suggest you starting one yourself. Your posting on this website is a first step. I hope that you will get many responses or offers of support and suggestions here. Please feel free to contact me, perhaps before the birth of your child (incidentally, my first child's birthday is the same as your due date) and I can perhaps put you in touch with others.

My best regards to you and hope you can make the connections you seek. I do admire you for taking the steps you have to head off the possibility of postpartum depression. You can contact me at _______. Best of luck. Anon


There used to be an organization called ''What are you 2000?'' It is listed as geared towards diverse ethnic families. Anyone know what happened to it? The web address doesn't lead anywhere. ethnic mom
I didn't see the origiinal posting, so I'm sorry if this is not quite applicable, but I did see the response this week and I just wanted to add my own experience to the mix. I, too, moved from the east coast and felt really isolated, as though people treated me like an alien when I tried to be friendly, rebuffed any attempts at communication, etc. ...but I'm caucasian, dark blonde hair, pretty waspy-looking really. My husband and I also thought we'd move back as soon as I finished school, but 4 years later we have managed to develop some friendships and have grown to love it here. So I just wanted to mention that I had a very similar experience even though I'm white.
Dear New Parents- I am the mother of a one-year old, and I have some thoughts and possible resources for you. First, my experience is sort of the reverse of yours right now-- I am caucasian and live in a small apartment building with African American neighbors, and I wish that my neighbors would be friendlier with me. In particular, there is a young couple with a five year old whom I would really enjoy getting to know, but they don't seem very responsive to my efforts to chat, etc. At the same time, I don't want to seem pushy or intrusive. So, desite the lousy experiences you have had so far, I hope you won't be discouraged. This is still the Bay Area and the right people are certainly out there and waiting for you to find them. Also, please remember that people of all colors (or lack thereof) can be, well, nurds, rather than bigots. Not everybody has the confidence to approach people they would like to know better and actually offer an invitation to get together. Your obvious gifts, education, and so forth may be intimidating to others who have less self-confidence than you do.

As for resources, two wonderful professionals have made all the difference in my experience as a new mother, and they also happen to be African American. They are very knowledgeable and may be able to give you some leads for the kind of parents' group you are looking for. One is my obgyn and the doctor who delivered my baby- Dr. Kevin Scott Smith and he may be reached at his Montclair (Oakland) office at 510-339-8194. He also has an office in downtown Oakland, in Chinatown, but I don't have the number. The other is the director of the daycare my son attends, the Model School, and an educator of childcare professionals and parents. Her name is Dr. Daisy Mante. By the way, the Model School, 510-549-2799, in Berkeley, is a very diverse place with a great atmosphere and a very active parents' group-- see this web site for more info about the Model School. There are about 75 kids, from 3 months through pre-kindergarten.

Finally, not to be sappy, but I hope most of all that you really get to enjoy and look forward to this incredible, magical time with your new baby-- including right now! That's what this is all about. For me, this first year has gone by way too fast-- I'd give anything to relive it, especially those first few months. I wish you all the very best! hilari


What are You 2000? is part of I-Pride, a wonderful organization that's all about mixed race and ethnicity. While it sounds like it may not focus directly on your situation, it's a very supportive and interesting group that's made up of mostly upper-middle class interracial/intercultural families. Lauren
I was so sorry to read about the difficulty you've had connecting with new parents. I am a mid-income caucasian american and I just wanted to offer my perspective. We live in Oakland because we really value diversity and we wish we had even more friends of color. So I want to thank you for reaching out and offer encouragement because I believe there are so many caucasian parents who want friends of color. I hope you find the support and community you need. parent in Oakland
i don't have anything to help you personally since i'm white and clearly your problems are NOT just like mine. but i do know that some cool women of color in the area can be found at www.mamasquilt.org.
- white chick with a clue
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