There's always a bit of magic when two strong black women join together with a common goal to not only empower others but push the envelope while filling a void for women of color.
For friends Erica Dickerson and Jamilah "Milah" Mapp, that meant redefining the narrative of single motherhood and providing a platform for women who don't necessarily fit the traditional cookie-baking, PTA-mom mold. Through their weekly podcast, Good Moms, Bad Choices, the two do just that, featuring expert and celebrity guests (one of their latest was singer Melonie Fiona) to talk hot topics including sex, dating, social media, and cannabis.
"I've always been a fan of podcasts, and I started looking for those that were more about parenthood and single motherhood," Dickerson recalled during an interview with xoNecole. "As a woman of color—as a black woman— there were just none that I felt like I could relate to. A lot of them were hosted by white women who I felt like didn't understand my experience as a single black mother. We just started recording something and it has grown from there."
Dickerson, a global beauty director at Beautyblender by day, and Mapp, an esthetician with her own mobile business, found common ground not only being single moms of daughters who are the same age, but also being self-starters who have even strengthened their friendship on the show. They've now built a community of more than 11,000 followers on their Instagram alone and thousands of monthly listeners.
"We're good moms that sometimes make [what some might consider] bad choices, and we learn. We needed something that was going to let the audience [know] quickly what they're about to get themselves into," Mapp said. "Jamilah and I are really trying to change the landscape—the negative connotation of what single motherhood looks like," Dickerson added.
"We're good moms that sometimes make [what some might consider] bad choices, and we learn. We needed something that was going to let the audience [know] quickly what they're about to get themselves into. Jamilah and I are really trying to change the landscape—the negative connotation of what single motherhood looks like."
Many single moms of color face stigmas and comparisons to archaic stereotypes that range from bitter mean workaholic mom to lazy money-hungry baby mama. Dickerson and Mapp want to turn those stereotypes on their heads and give women a chance to unapologetically connect and share, building their own tribe based on their unique and diverse parenting experiences and needs—uncensored and raw.
"It's a range of things—a lot of life experiences on a day-to-day basis—so there's no telling really what you're going to get. Episodes range from parenting to personal experiences," Mapp said.
"As two single parents, we're navigating this dating world out here in Los Angeles, so we talk a lot about dating and a lot about sex," Dickerson added. "We definitely advocate for our listeners to not be afraid to talk about taboo topics with their kids. If you're going to listen to our podcast at work, put your headphones in because we do curse a lot. It's realness and we really don't filter anything—our experiences as women and mothers."
"If you're going to listen to our podcast at work, put your headphones in because we do curse a lot. It's realness and we really don't filter anything—our experiences as women and mothers."
One hot topic that always sparks intrigue and debate is the consumption of weed, and it's something the ladies have no qualms in supporting or discussing.
"We both are cannabis users and obviously, in L.A., that's legal. It's a bit more normal, per se, and that's something that we normalize in our households. When we talk about cannabis with our parents who want to smoke, [some have] been shamed by their family or they have guilt. They think, 'Oh my God, am I a bad parent because I'm smoking weed?'" Dickerson said. "Jamilah and I always tell them, 'This is your life. You don't need to ask for permission. Do what you have to do and stop asking for everyone's opinion.' And [the cannabis topic] is just one example. There are a lot of opinions out there [about motherhood and parenting], but I always say, this is your life—this is your child's life. As long as your child is healthy and you're not putting them in danger, that's your business."
Single moms are also often at the whim of very stifling family and societal criticism on issues like what to wear when pregnant, where and how to give birth, when to date, and disciplinary practices—leading to quite a bit of mom-shaming. Black mothers are often passed down insights on what they should and should not do based on habits of the past.
"I think we come from a society that, you know, has this premade equation of what parenthood looks like, but the truth is, that [equation] is not necessarily [accurate for all of us]," Mapp said. "We've been socialized in a lot of ways. There's this box moms have to fit into, and if you don't, you're shamed. They'll say, 'You're somebody's mother, why are you wearing that?' 'Oh, you went out twice this week? Why are you doing that?'"
Dickerson stresses the importance of mothers trusting themselves a bit more and making confident decisions based on intuition and personal preference. "When you get pregnant, that's when it really starts—like the precursor to opinions. Everyone has an opinion about what you should do as a pregnant woman, how you should prepare, how your child is going to be before they're even here. I think that right there was my first [indication of having] to go with my intuition. I learned the hard way because my first big lesson was not trusting myself on how I wanted to give birth. It all went downhill because I listened to everybody else's opinion."
Dickerson and Mapp also encourage women to set their own path and enjoy journeys of womanhood along with motherhood—on their own terms.
"Just because you're a mother doesn't mean that you're no longer an individual—a woman who has goals, who is having sex, who is putting herself first," Dickerson said. "I think a lot of times in motherhood we think that we can no longer put ourselves first, and that's a huge mistake because you really can't be a good mother if you're not taking care of yourself."
For the two hosts, embracing every facet of their own femininity, living their best lives for themselves and their children, and tapping into their motherly instincts is key. Finding balance between the three is something that is ongoing and fluid, and it doesn't have to be perfect.
"I think for both of us, in this journey that we've had, we've got to have the attitude like, 'Look, we know what we're doing,'" Mapp said. "When you're confident in what you're doing and you know you're doing the right thing for your child, all the other things fall to the wayside. We encourage that for our audience, too. There's no black-and-white instructional on how to be a parent to your child, and being a single parent doesn't define you. You, as a single parent, have the ability to be multifaceted."
"There's no black-and-white instructional on how to be a parent to your child, and being a single parent doesn't define you. You, as a single parent, have the ability to be multifaceted."
Dickerson echoed those sentiments and believes that she and Mapp's lives as mothers and empowered women venturing into a new decade are ever-changing and evolving.
"[We won't] be single forever," Dickerson added with a laugh. "I'm totally enjoying my singleness right now, but you know, if someone comes along, I'm open. I just feel women are in an exciting time. We're more empowered than ever, and we're so happy to be part of that."
You can catch Erica and Jamilah on Good Moms, Bad Choices via any major streaming platform every Wednesday.
Featured image courtesy of Good Moms, Bad Choices.