Black Mamas Say, a tribute project debuting on Mother’s Day

Native Charlotteans Brandi Williams and Raven Barrett have partnered to create Black Mamas Say, a social-media dedication to the moms in our lives.
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Mother’s Day is Sunday, as internet memes and retailer emails have reminded us, and despite Covid-19’s continued impact. 

This weekend will be all about celebrating moms — and all of the grandmothers, aunts, godmothers and other prominent mother figures in our lives. Regardless of whether they’re with us physically or not, the goal will be to honor their love, contributions, and in some cases, their legacy. 

Native Charlotteans Brandi Williams and Raven Barrett have joined forces to create an online platform dedicated to moms through the launch of Black Mamas Say.

Created with the nuances and complexities of Black motherhood in mind, Black Mamas Say is an Instagram-based tribute to the words and experiences unique to Black families that have contributed to our growth and made us great.  

Williams, the proud mother of two teenagers and an adult stepson who she regards as her own, shared that Black Mamas Say was developed as part of a quest to use personal experiences to uplift herself and others.  

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“Starting this year, I made myself several promises and one of them was to do a project to honor Black moms — everything we do, laugh at, some of the funny things we say,” she explained. 

The original plan was to work with local photographers and compose the project as a photo documentary. When the coronavirus hit Charlotte, however, she pivoted to make it a social-media endeavor.

While the project medium shifted, the overarching goals did not.  

“[Moms] really influence a lot in terms of the socialization of children [and people], and I want us to be honored,” Williams said as she reflected on the mission and vision behind Black Mamas Say. “The goal is to be a reflection of who we are and provide opportunities to support and have discussions about how we can be better moms and take care of ourselves.”

Switching gears to social media also allowed Williams, a public relations professional turned women’s health coach, to find a willing partner in Raven Barrett, an entrepreneur and middle-school teacher. Barrett is the founder of apparel company Cocoiv (pronounced Coco I-V), which is dedicated to honoring Black moms.  

The women came together equally inspired by their past and present.  

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Williams considers motherhood as one of her best experiences while her childhood remains highly influential in her work.  

“Watching my mother sacrifice, my grandmother and aunts sacrifice, knowing that they could have done a lot more had they not believed that they had to sacrifice their entire lives for their kids, I want moms to know that we can still be good mothers and honor ourselves,” she said.  

Barrett attributes her current path to 2-year-old daughter Kennedy aka IV (pronounced four). 

“My daughter is the main reason I started Cocoiv,” she shared. “She is my reflection, my motivation for addressing things I need to grow in, things I need to heal, and areas where I know I need to shine and stop hiding from the world.”

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Raven Barrett with daughter, Kennedy. Photo courtesy of Raven Barrett

Using the hashtag #LovingYouIsFoodForMySoul (thank you Boyz II Men), individuals are invited to join Barrett and Williams in celebrating Black moms by uploading to Instagram favorite moments with their favorite women. All posts will be shared on Sunday via Black Mamas Say.  

“We really want to make Black moms go viral,” Williams said. 

Though the current focus is on the upcoming holiday, Barrett and Williams plan to continue their motherhood movement past this weekend.  

“It will definitely continue in terms of content for moms,” Williams said. “I’m hoping there will be more partnerships, opportunities for support and support groups. Stay tuned.”

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