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Tika Sumpter & Thai Randolph's Sugaberry Invites Moms To Indulge In Motherhood

Tika and Thai have created a safe space for moms of color to celebrate multi-faceted motherhood.

BOSS UP

There's no shortage of online content for moms. Mommy blogs, Facebook groups, and Instagram accounts offer everything from all-natural baby food recipes and recommendations for must-have strollers to the latest toddler fashion and nursery decor ideas.

But despite this flood of content, there's been a drought of representation for moms of color. When they are centered, the conversation tends to focus exclusively on heavier subjects like maternal mortality rates and raising children of color in a racist society, leaving little room for black and brown women to explore the joys of motherhood.

Courtesy of Tika Sumpter

It's a gap that actress Tika Sumpter encountered when she was pregnant with her three-year-old daughter, Ella and searching for content that spoke to her experiences and interests as a Black mom-to-be.

"There are a million websites on motherhood, and we were barely there," Sumpter recalled.

Sumpter knew she wasn't alone, and she was determined to fill the gap. So, she approached her friend, Thai Randolph with the idea for a platform that would offer moms of color a space to celebrate all the parts of motherhood.

Courtesy of Thai Randolph

Randolph, who serves as Executive Vice President of Kevin Hart's Laugh Out Loud Network, knew Sumpter had struck gold. Not just because of her expertise in marketing and content, but because she too had struggled to find content that supported her through her own journey into motherhood.

"Historically, Black women have not been depicted as vessels deserving of care. We're seen in a caretaker's context," Randolph noted. "The idea that there should be indulgent self-care afforded us…that is a foreign concept to so many people."

So, together, Sumpter and Randolph created a space for that indulgence with Sugaberry. They launched the lifestyle brand in March, curating a range of content that treats moms of color to advice, product recommendations, and tools that help them take care of themselves and their little ones, inside and out.

Courtesy of Sugaberry

But Sugaberry's sweet content doesn't mean they shy away from tough topics or difficult conversations. Instead, they give women permission to keep it all the way real through the good and the bad.

"When I say indulgence, I don't just mean that everything's great and dandy all the time. Indulgence is saying you have permission to speak and not be judged here. And to have all the information possible, including the joys," Sumpter explained.

The Suga, Sugaberry's weekly podcast hosted by Sumpter and Randolph, has been a space for some of Sugaberry's most candid conversations. They've chatted with Kelly Rowland about the challenge of accepting your post-baby body; discussed the difficult emotions that can come with not having children with Vivica A. Fox; and talked to Rachel Webb about the experience of freezing her eggs.

While the conversations may get deeply personal, it's never about dropping bombs or serving gossip. "From the beginning, we said, 'We don't spill the tea, we share the sugar.' So, we never wanted to feel salacious. The goal of The Suga is just to explore the spectrum of right answers," said Randolph.

Courtesy of Sugaberry

That spectrum of right answers is why Randolph and Sumpter insisted that Sugaberry cater to an expanded audience of not just moms, but also the kid-curious, dedicated aunties, and those debating if motherhood is for them. For Sumpter, who noted that she kept putting off motherhood to prioritize her career, and Randolph who experienced two failed rounds of IVF before unexpectedly conceiving naturally, it was important to recognize and honor the various relationships women can have to motherhood.

Sumpter and Randolph have continued to push their careers forward even as they've enjoyed the sweetness of motherhood. They're both quick to admit that it's not easy, but they encourage working moms to cut themselves some slack.

"I'm a careerist, and I want to be there for everything my child's gonna do, but it's not gonna happen. I think it's about not beating yourself up over the choices that you're making for where you want to be or where you want to go or what you want for your family," Sumpter shared.

"There might be another mom who's doing it completely different who's spending all of her time with her family. And maybe that works for her. There's more than one way to do it," Randolph added.

Whatever your path, Sugaberry promises to guide and support you through it, no matter what life throws your way. Yes, even if life throws you a pandemic.

Courtesy of Sugaberry

Sugaberry's March launch came just as COVID-19 began to dominate news feeds and worry moms across the world. Sumpter and Randolph pivoted their original launch plan and content strategy to include resources for homeschooling, immune health, and small business funding, proving that they are truly committed to making Sugaberry a space that serves modern moms of color.

"We're constantly communicating with each other about what stories are meaningful for us right now, and where we can be of service, whether that's through information, resources, or doses of joy," Randolph said.

Ultimately, Sumpter and Randolph want Sugaberry to not only be part of the village and support system women of color lean on, but a reminder of the grace they deserve to give themselves. As Sumpter said, "It's so important to take moments out and say, 'I'm doing OK, I'm doing just fine.' We wanted to create a space at The Suga and Sugaberry.com where we're letting moms off the hook. We're saying, 'Give each other grace.'"

Be sure to visit Sugaberry.com and connect with them on Instagram @sugaberry.

Featured image courtesy of Sugaberry

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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