I Am Not Your Baby Mother | Candice Brathwaite

Summary of: I Am Not Your Baby Mother
By: Candice Brathwaite


In ‘I Am Not Your Baby Mother’, Candice Brathwaite uses her own experiences to shed light on the unique challenges Black mothers face in Britain. Growing up with a single mother and facing her own difficult decision of becoming a parent, Brathwaite confronts negative social stereotypes and racial microaggressions. Themes of responsibility, fatherhood, financial stability, identity, discrimination in healthcare, and postnatal depression are explored throughout the book, painting a more complete and realistic picture of motherhood for women of color. This summary discusses significant events in Brathwaite’s journey and the powerful messages that emerge from her story.

Candice Brathwaite’s Journey to Motherhood

Growing up as the eldest child of a single mother of three, Candice Brathwaite faced many challenges. Her mother struggled to raise them alone, leaving Candice to take care of her siblings and run the household. Her experiences and negative stereotypes about Black mothers made her ambivalent about having children of her own. Facing an accidental pregnancy in her early twenties with an unreliable partner, Candice chose to have an abortion. However, at age 26, she fell in love with a man who she knew would be a wonderful co-parent and decided to have a child. Despite her doubts, she took the plunge. However, her worries about racism towards Black families soon proved to be true.

Breaking the Narrative

Candice’s experiences shed light on the harmful effects of media representations of Black fatherhood. Despite facing a racist microaggression during a check-up, Candice had strong male role models who taught her that she could do and be anything she wanted. Her traumatic experience with rape affected the kind of relationships she sought, but meeting her husband Bode changed that. While many Black women are forced to be single mothers with absent fathers, media coverage that only tells this story is incomplete and demonizes Black fathers without questioning the effects of institutionalized racism on Black families.

The Bugaboo Obsession

As soon as Candice decided to have a baby, she became fixated on getting a Bugaboo pushchair. Despite the high cost, Candice and her partner Bode worked hard to afford it, driven by a desire to give their child a different future from their own experiences of poverty. Young Black families, like theirs, often face a structural disadvantage due to lack of family financial support that enables access to unpaid internships or ventures requiring start-up capital. Although economic injustice couldn’t be fixed overnight, Candice believed that her baby’s appearance could change the way others perceive her, and so owning a Bugaboo was a survival strategy.

The Weight of a Black Child’s Name

The name of a Black child can determine how they navigate the world and the opportunities available to them. This is a reality that Candice faced when she became a mother. Growing up, Candice learned from watching the movie Roots that being Black meant assimilating into white society, including taking on names that didn’t “stand out.” Name bias is a documented issue in university admissions and job screenings, with white-sounding names getting more positive responses. Candice and her partner had to choose a name that would allow their child to “hide in plain sight.” The task of protecting their children from racism also included balancing assimilation with maintaining their Black identities. A Black child’s name carries a significant weight, and it’s one that Candice and other Black parents must bear.

Neglected Concerns of Black Women in Childbirth

Candice, a Black woman, almost died after giving birth to her daughter due to the medical system’s failure to take her concerns seriously. Black British women are five times more likely to die in childbirth than white women, and their babies are also more at risk. Despite medical personnel arguing that Black women are more prone to pregnancy-related illnesses, the neglectful treatment of Candice and other women shows a systemic issue. Even wealthy celebrities like Serena Williams have reported being handled negligently while giving birth. The physical healing may have taken a month, but the mental healing will take far longer.

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