I’ve been aware of Candice Brathwaite online for ages. I’ve regularly seen people sharing her instagram posts and holding her up as a role model for black mothers here in the UK. But I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t really know much about her before I sat down to read her book – I Am Not Your Baby Mother.
The strap line of the book is “what it’s like to be a black British mother” and that really sums the book up. Candice telling the reader about her own experiences growing up as a black child, and then making the transition into motherhood. Without necessarily being able to relate to many of the mothers that she saw either online or in the print media.
Being Candice though her writing style is such that sitting down with the book is really just like sitting down with her for a chat over a drink. She’ll make you laugh. Make you cry. And also make you really stop and think. And in some places, I’ll admit that it made me feel a bit uncomfortable and challenged some of my own thoughts and stereotypes that I hadn’t necessarily realised were that. It’s written in such an accessible way though that it is an absolute joy to read. Even the bits that made me feel uncomfortable.
Let’s start with a fact taken from the back cover.
Black women in the UK are five times more likely to die in childbirth than their white counterparts.
That is a sobering fact. Imagine reading that as a black woman pregnant for the first time. I can’t begin to imagine how it would make you feel. It is exactly why we need black mothers like Candice to speak out about their own experiences and also to be there as a role model for women following in their footsteps.
Another part of the book that initially made me feel uncomfortable was the title. I Am Not Your Baby Mother. What does that actually mean? The alternating text colour on the cover confused me further. Should I read something further into it. I am your mother? Not baby? The first two pages of the introduction explain exactly what a “baby mother” is, complete with an Oxford English dictionary definition and provide a great starting point in my education of what it is like to be a black British mother.
I am not your Baby Mother was written before the recent Black Lives Matter protests, but it fits perfectly for anyone who is reading to help educate themselves. Candice herself says that she hope’s she’s “able to accurately describe the many hurdles black British mothers are up against” and I believe it’s something she does with aplomb.
As for Candice Brathwaite herself. Basically I’d like her to be my friend. The kind of person that you enjoy a cuppa (or something stronger) with whilst the kids cause havoc elsewhere in the house. The kind of friend that is in your phone at any hour of the day or night. The kind of friend who sets you right when you make mistakes, but doing so firmly, explains what you’ve done so you don’t do it again. But more than anything her instagram tells me that she’s recently bought herself a pair of roller-skates which she’s been testing out in her kitchen and that makes her damn cool in my book!
I Am Not Your Baby Mother is published by Quercus and is available to buy in high street bookshops or online *here.
Disclaimer: I given a copy of I Am Not Your Baby Mother as a birthday present. I wasn’t asked to write about it at all. Any links in this article marked with a * are affiliate links and if you buy anything through them I receive a small commission. It will not cost you any more than if you had arrived at the site on your own. Thank you for any purchases that you do make.