As a lot of my readers know, I was involved in a nonprofit organization for mothers. MOMS Club (Moms Offering Moms Support) is an international organization intended to offer support for stay-at-home-mothers. Activities involve play dates, community service projects, meal trains, Mom’s Night Out, etc.
Sounds like a pretty cool organization for a mom to get into, yeah? Well, they’ve hit a wall in keeping up with the times. A lot of the language in the Bylaws and Handbook is way outdated. It suggests that all mothers should be stay-at-home-mothers, the organization is to be specifically for stay-at-home-mothers only, Mom’s Night Out is limited to once a month (because the woman’s place is at home). No events on weekends for the same reason, and nothing after hours because women are vulnerable and need to be at home still. Sheesh, what a mess of antiquated ideals.
My idea was to try to change this from the inside. I got on the board for my local chapter as Treasurer, and was most recently elected the Assistant Vice President. I intended to work my way up, or to organize a movement to change the language of these documents.
Well, that didn’t work out. In fact, closely following our election for the new fiscal year’s board, MOMs Club of Hutto disbanded. We collectively decided that we no longer wanted to be affiliated with MOMS Club International. This unanimous decision follows the actions taken by Mary James, President and Founder of MOMS Club International in relation to a social media post made by the Rancho Santa Margarita, CA chapter.
The picture above is a post sent from a chapter member named Jill to the MOMS Club International Facebook page. The collage reads “We. Stand. With. All. Moms. And. Pledge. That. Racial. Discrimination. Will. Stop. With. Our. Kids.” Jill was told the image would be posted on International’s Facebook page. Well, they reascended that confirmation a while later, claiming the post can be viewed as political, and that the club’s status as a nonprofit prevents them from engaging in political activity.
Here’s some documentation about the communication from MOMS Club International:
Taken from a PDF document, posted in the public MOMS Club Information Sharing Facebook page by someone else. . (Click on the images to view in detail.)
FYI: The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. It’s the only way forward. – Ijeoma Oluo
My personal opinion is that the fight against racism extends beyond the scope of political activity. Ending racism starts at home, with the family. A parent has the responsibilty of teaching their kids about the world around them, and how to function in it. If those kids are taught to function as a racist, they will. If they are taught to be complacent, they won’t care enough to do anything about it. If they are raised to be anti-racist, they will be empowered to help in the normalization and elevation of anti-racial pursuits.
Even if you claim to be unable to post this image due to it’s perceived political nature, there have been many other posts of similar collages that could also be construed as political. You’ve negated your entire argument.
And the idea that this post could insinuate that the club has been racist or discriminatory in the past is preposterous. It hints at nothing towards the post of the organization, just a stance on the world as it is today.
An outstanding response from a former member, and admin for the “MOMS Club International Information Sharing” group on Facebook:
An Open Letter to Mary James, Founder of International MOMS Club
I joined my MOMS Club Chapter fairly recently, in search of “mom friends” and play dates, coffee breaks and quick sanity check-ins. I heard tales of service events, fundraisers and endless meal trains. And I was eager to connect and serve.
This is a Thank You note of sorts, for the brief, but impactful experience I have had in the Club you created. I share this with candor, although we have never met, but I want to preface it by saying this: Mothers, especially the mothers drawn to this organization, are some of the most adaptable, compassionate, communicative and loving folks I have ever met. We can radically grow, learn and change–and we often make it look easy. But we know that change is anything but easy.
I have watched this change over the last few weeks. Although you have given me no reason to be hopeful through your responses on this matter, the mothers you have drawn together give me the abounding, unending hope with which I pen this letter. For that, I thank you.
When our organization says it is the exception to racism, that it never has and never could be racist, it clearly implies we simply have not asked a Black mother. Or any mother of color for that matter. This attitude speaks to the gas lighting and active racism within our body that we are now addressing. But we are addressing it without the benefit of the official channels of the organization we have come to love. I have come to realize, based on your poor responses, that your lack of involvement is, in fact, a gift. Thank you.
A Chapter puts out a creative and thoughtful collage against discrimination. You promise to post it on social media, and never do. You direct other members to hide this information, and you threaten members that discuss it. You deactivate organizational email accounts and Facebook pages of any mother or Chapter that dares be an ally in the fight against racism. You toss aside the decades of service of mothers that have poured into this Club in favor of willful ignorance. You pretend that the disbandment of 90+ chapters, the exodus of 3000+ members and the media coverage happening is insignificant.
How can you, the mother of MOMS Club, spend so much of your life building sisterhood and relationships, only to disown them and burn them to the ground? How can you demand the loyalty of volunteers to be complicit in silencing the voices of other women? How can you lead with fear mongering, with threats, and with the absolute absence of compassion? But then again, without the willful neglect of what is right, I may not have met so many allies. So, thank you.I have heard that, to you, my Black skin is political. I have read that, if a mother makes a statement that her children will not be bred to hate mine, that she must be silenced. I have heard that all I can expect from IMC are playdates and meal trains. Respectfully, I have not found this to be the case.
nstead of waiting to send a meal train for me, when my daughter is inevitably murdered, like Breonna Taylor, with no one held accountable, you sent me mother warriors, who stand with me now at every step of police reform. Instead of the inevitable meal train I am due when my husband suffers the same fate of Ahmaud Arbery, you, unwittingly, sent me freedom fighters, sent a legion of collage makers, sent letter writers, sent organizers, sent future elected officials.
And when they come for me, as they have before, piece by piece, microaggression after microaggression, those white supremacist who don’t seem so bad to you; those children of mothers that did not teach them to love justice–please, Mary, do not send my family a meal train. Do not send them flowers. Send mothers.
Send women walking in power and speaking truth,with babies in tow. Send mothers who will have hard conversations with each other, and with their babies. Send women and families with fight, with laughter, with love, with conviction, with humility, with truth and with courage.
But what am I saying, really? By showing your members that racism isn’t always in some far away place, by revealing it through your leadership, and in the mother-next-door, you have already created an army of mothers aligned with me in this fight. Your grossly negligent inaction has compelled other mothers to stand together beside me–right where I had hoped you would be. For this, I must thank you.
Are you a mother that is pro-life? Then be pro- my husband’s life. Is there a mother with ties to law enforcement? Then let her advocate for police reform. Is there a mother member that is pro-family? Then let her end the sentimentality towards white supremacist leaders. Let her vote boldly. My skin, my hair– these things are not political.
But without you, some of these conversations may have never happened among our Club members. And for this, I can not thank you enough. Well done, Mary.
Tahira, Former MOMS Club Member
The movement has inspired many chapters to make collages in support:
MOMS Club membership is dropping like crazy, and chapters all over the country are disbanding in solidarity.
So what will become of MOMS Club? Only time will tell. The hope is for reform, as chapters have usually been supportive and helpful to their members. There is also a call for Mary James to resign, in response to her stance against offering additional support to moms of color, who need our support to ring strong and true right now.(You can sign the petition here.)
As for my local chapter, we have reformed into a new group, open to all mothers (and without annual dues for membership). Our Facebook group has grown exponentially since the disbandment of our official MOMS Club chapter. Where we used to only have twenty-something members, we now have over 100 participating in our online events.
I want to give a special shout out to our former President, and our current organizer, Megan. She has been the rock of our group since she founded it, and man does she rock it! She handled the situation professionally and respectfully, while also standing up for her beliefs. Huge round of applause for her! Can’t wait until we are finally able to safely get the kids together again.
News sources for the “mass disbandment” of MOMS Club chapters:
- The Orange County Register
- News Channel 8 -Tampa
- The Middletown Press
- St. Louis Post
- Courier & Press
- The Sun Chronicle