Are you the workplace mammy?

Last week I saw a really cringy interview with Drew Barrymore and Vice President Kamala Harris (USA) where she was asking her to be the county’s ‘Mamula.’ It was clearly giving, ‘be the black mammy’ vibes and there were a lot of us on social media saying how tired they were of having this stereotype projected onto them at work. 

The Black Mammy stereotype is deeply rooted in chattel slavery where we were expected to be nurturing, self-sacrificing, and grateful for having the primary role of caring for their white enslavers. This stereotype continues to be used in the workplace to exploit, dehumanise, and subjugate Black women, recycling harmful stereotypes and reinforcing racist power dynamics. How does this play out at work? 

  1. Expectations of Caretaking: Black women are expected to take on caregiving roles, such as providing emotional support or managing conflicts, often without receiving proper recognition support or appropriate pay for the role.
  2. Devaluation of Skills and Expertise: Black women’s professional skills and expertise are devalued by emphasising their perceived natural inclination towards domestic and caretaking roles. Consequently, we face barriers to advancement and are often overlooked for leadership positions as a result.
  3. Emotional Labour and Burnout: The emotional labour heaped on Black women to cape for everyone else often results in burnout as we codependently deny our own emotions to keep the peace at work. 
  4. Difficulty Setting Boundaries: The Mammy stereotype portrays Black women as selfless and accommodating, making it challenging for us to set boundaries or advocate for our needs in the workplace. This inability to prioritise our wellness at work inevitably feeds a cycle of codependency, exhaustion and resentment.
  5. Enabling Racist Hierarchies: Black women may internalise this stereotype and believe racist messages that their identity and worth is dependent on their ability to meet these caregiving roles for others. Accepting these projections enables the system and keeps the power dynamics firmly in place. 

Challenging this stereotype is essential for dismantling the oppression systems ingrained in so many corporate organisations.  If you identify with these characteristics, recognise yourself as the workplace mammy or struggle with chronic people pleasing, join the email list to get exclusive access to a webinar on understanding and setting racial boundaries at work on 23 May 2024. 


How does slavery continue to destroy secure childhood attachment today?

Chattel slavery kept mothers and babies in bondage for centuries, so it’s important to explore how it still impacts our community today. Frederick Douglass was an iconic African American abolitionist, writer, speaker, and statesman. Born into slavery in Talbot County,  Maryland around 1818, he escaped in 1838 and became one of the leading voices in the fight against slavery and injustice. In his book, ‘Narrative of the life of Fredrick Douglass, An American Slave.’ he speaks on enslaved mothers.

‘My mother and I were separated when I was but an infant, before I knew her as my mother. It is a common custom in the part of Maryland to part children from their mothers at a very early age. Frequently before the child has reached its twelfth month, its mother is taken from it, and hired out on some farm a considerable distance off, and the child is placed under the care of an old woman, too old for field labor. For what this separation is done, I do not know, unless it be to hinder the development of the child’s affection toward its mother, and to blunt and destroy the natural affection of the mother for the child.’

Enslaved mothers were also forbidden to breastfeed their own children in order to wet nurse the enslavers children. This plantation pattern may contribute to the research which shows black women in the UK and the US breastfeed less than other groups today. These early broken attachments along with the constant threat of being abused, sold or killed during enslavement kept both parents and their children traumatised and therefore unable to form healthy attachments.

Without support, the attachment wounds will continue to play out intergenerationally until someone in the family steps up to do the inner work to end the cycle of attachment pain in their own relationships and parenting. Are you ready to do the deeper inner work?


The Power of Kitty Calm.

Ever since I was a little girl, cats have always been a great source of comfort. There’s something so settling about being around the purring and ‘biscuit’ making. When I had no safe people to turn to, my cat with the only consistent love I knew. There’ve been many times when I’ve been upset and my cat would appear and sit with me. My furry friend reminded me that I was not alone and that whatever I was going through would pass. Today, I have a cute kitty called Cleo (short for Cleopatra) who brings me so much joy. 

Cats can bring out the playful, softness in us and also teach that we deserve to rest, chill and BE without apology. Research has found that the vibes of a cat’s purr can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and even promote tissue regeneration. Stroking your cat (or any pet) also releases oxytocin, (love hormone) which helps if you feel lonely or upset.

As part of my series on justice for your inner child, it was fun to create a meditation of kitty calm. If you’re allergic to cats but love them this is purrrrfect. 

Lastly, one of the things I love about social media is allowing my inner child to indulge in kitty content so here are my fav Instagram pages. 

Mr Kitters. owners have attached a camera to his collar so its a real treat to get a cheeky incite into his world. Get ready for lots of kitty chat, neighborhood beefs and climbing adventures.

Black people pets. is a hilarious page where black culture is expressed in how we love our pets.

I hope you enjoy exploring all this kitty love as much as I enjoyed creating it!


What exactly does justice for your inner child mean?

One of the most powerful aspects of my work is holding space for a client’s inner child to emerge. It can take a while before this younger part of ourselves feels safe enough to come out from where they’ve been hiding. Sometimes I’ll need to slow them down from intellectualising and using words to cover their pain.

When I sense her little one coming, we pause. We breathe…… and silence becomes a tender invitation. 

Often in this moment the words are replaced with tears. And we just sit…. 

I’ll gently reassure but the space is hers, at her pace to reveal to me and the client’s adult self what she needs….. 

This is just a small example of what inner child justice looks like in session. I hear so many stories from clients holding painful family secrets, lies, and betrayal that hold them hostage and unable to stand in their greatness. 

Justice for your inner girl means finding reparative spaces and allowing yourself to receive the love, care and support you didn’t get growing up. Building a family or choice with pseudo aunties, siblings and big sista’s who can hold you through the vulnerabilities of doing this work and beyond is crucial. You deserve to flourish, thrive and be free from the burdens of your past. 

Are you ready to create space for your inner girl? 


 

Recognizing Coping Mechanisms

The things that kept us soothed and safe as children in dysfunctional families can block us from what we need as adults. Journaling can help us identify any recurring patterns, beliefs, and behaviours that no longer serve us. Exploring these experiences compassionately can give us clarity on how the past continues to bleed into the present and reveal what healing support we need for the future.

This week’s heartwork: Reflect on the coping mechanisms you developed as a child to navigate difficult emotions or situations. Are there any patterns or behaviors from childhood that you still find yourself repeating as an adult?

Click here to join the Sacred Sista Sanctuary.

How do childhood attachment patterns impact our adult relationships?

In a healthy mother and baby relationship, a secure attachment is formed when they are responsive and can provide nurturing care, protection, and emotional support. Building a secure attachment is important for:

  • Babies’ brain development.
  • Learning to self soothe.
  • Feeling deserving of care.
  • Seeding self esteem.
  • The first experience of love.
  • Building confidence to communicate their needs.
  1. Anxious attachment : This attachment style happens when parents are inconsistent with care so the child does not trust if their needs are going to be met or not. This anxious attachment style shows up in adult relationships as:
  • Difficulty trusting others
  • Low self-worth.
  • Fear of abandonment.
  • Craving closeness with unavailable people.
  • Being overly dependent.
  • Requiring frequent reassurance that people care about you.
  • Being overly sensitive to a partner’s actions and moods.
  • Being highly emotional, impulsive, unpredictable and moody.
  1. Avoidant attachment: In this dynamic the parent cannot show up and the child knows that their needs are not going to be met. This leaves them feeling unloved and insignificant.  Avoidant attachment shows up in adult relationships as:
  • Compulsive self reliance.
  • Fear of closeness.
  • Disconnection from your emotions which means you’re more likely to minimise the emotions of those close to you.
  • Relationship sabotage, (i.e affairs.)
  • Preferring casual relationships (hook up’s and situationships.)
  • Emotional unavailability.
  1. Disorganised attachment: The child experiences and/or witnesses abuse and will act out/in through withdrawal and/or intense rage. Disorganised attachment shows up in relationships as:
  • Confused emotions swinging between love and hate for your partner.
  • Insensitivity, controlling and mistrust.
  • Explosive drama and/or abusive behaviour.
  • Being hard on yourself and others.
  • Refusal to take responsibility for your actions.
  • Feeling unworthy of love and fears abandonment.

Justice for your inner child involves creating a safe, nurturing, and validating environment where they can flourish and thrive, free from the burdens of the past. Are you on the path? 


Shut Your Inner Critic Up!

Journaling is a powerful tool to unpack, explore and change the relationship with your inner critic which is often in our unconscious chattin’ sh*t. Understanding the intersections of racism, oppression and gender within your family of origin or wider society is an important starting point to explore how we internalise the negative messages at a young age to become our inner critic. 

 

The goal is not to hate that part of yourself, but to build a relationship with it so it no longer dominates your thinking or sabotages your future choices. 

 

This week’s heartwork: Tune into the voices of your inner critic. What messages do you hear from this critical voice, and where/who do you think they originated from in your childhood? Does your inner critic treat your inner child the way your parents treated you?

If you found this heartwork valuable and would like to explore deeper healing, there are additional journal prompts available for free in the Sista Sanctuary.

Click here to join the sistahood today.

 

Is your past hurting the present?

This month’s conversation in the Sacred Sista Sanctuary is about justice for your inner child. Inner child work provides an opportunity to explore how the pain of your past is hurting you today and will continue to bleed into your future without support. Journaling allows us to express and release pent-up emotions and feelings related to our inner child’s experiences. By exploring our thoughts on paper, we can begin to unpack any harmful thought patterns and increase awareness of any emotions trapped in the body.

This week’s heartwork: Reflect on a life changing memory from your childhood that still holds emotional weight. What comes up for you around this memory, and how does it show up in your behavior as an adult?

If you found this heartwork valuable and would like to explore deeper healing, there are additional journal prompts available for free in the Sista Sanctuary. Click here to join the sistahood today.

‘How can I grieve the loss of someone still alive?’

One of the questions I am being asked a lot in session recently, is how clients can grieve the loss of someone still alive? If you have no contact with parents or other family members. this is a particularly complex and emotionally challenging issue that requires professional support, a support network and lots of self compassion. Join me in today’s live as I share how I work with black women around this tender issue along with tools to care for yourself if you relate.