[Note: This piece was written just as the lockdown was put into place]

She looks so small on my phone screen, as I facetime her across 5000 miles. For the first time in a long time, I see her face worried and anxious and her vulnerability so palpable. My mother, 75 years old, is not one to show her worries to her children. She is one of the most resilient women I know, always with a positive outlook and a smile on her face, despite all the hardships and setbacks she has faced through her life. But, today, as the threat of coronavirus becomes increasingly real, and we face a lockdown, she faces the prospect of being the sole carer of my father. …


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I looked over on her Instagram the other day and saw that she had another tattoo. Hidden away on her abdomen, a beautifully inked design. It started with one small one on her ankle, and then on her arm, and now this. I don’t know how many others she has. I have only found out about them through her Instagram images.

‘Did you get another tattoo’, I messaged her, sounding as casual and calm as I could. ‘Yes’, came back the abrupt response. I know her far too well, and she knows me too. I know that she is expecting me to react strongly, give her another ‘lecture’ as she calls them, and she probably knows me well enough to know that I don’t approve of it. …


Motherhood and Race

I was born in India, and I have lived in the UK for almost 20 years, first coming here as a single parent to study for my Masters and a PhD. I have an older daughter, who was born in India bur has grown up in the UK. And, I have toddler twins who are mixed-heritage and do not have such dark skin as mine or their older sister. I didn’t talk about race with my older daughter, not explicitly at least. I told her stories of women who could do it all, and who took on the world no matter what their race or cultural heritage. No barrier is big enough. This is the message that I gave her in words and in actions. But I did not talk to her about race, and how our race affects our own identity, and how others perceive us. Neither did I talk to her about the challenges that might come with being of a certain ‘colour’ or ‘race’. I wanted to believe — and told her — that race did not matter. …


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A 21-year old woman in India has allegedly killed herself because she was being taunted by her husband for her ‘dark’ complexion. This is not an isolated occurrence.

The idea that fair skin is beautiful is deeply rooted in the colonial hangover, and the shame that Indians carried for looking like the way they did. The British perpetuated and reinforced skin colour discrimination, as they claimed themselves to be a ‘superior’ and ‘intelligent’ race and justified why they were born to rule the ‘inferior’ and ‘black-coloured’ Indians. They gave menial tasks to those Indians or ‘natives’ who were dark-skinned and kept the ones who were fairer as allies in better administrative roles, thereby creating a divide based on skin colour. This shaped an association of white coloured skin with the ruling class, with power, with desirability, and with beauty. Unknowingly, it became a practice of attaching greater societal superiority and power to the fairer skin individuals, which in turn dictates and shapes the desire for lighter skin — even after so many years of independence. Indian society internalised this shame and projected the stigma upon all Indian women, who are, of course, the lowest denominator in the social hierarchy. …


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Photo by Josh Willink from Pexels

There are several definitions of grit. For me, it is a growth mindset, a resilience that makes a person determined to bounce back from failures and setbacks. I talked about the growth mindset in my TEDx talk. Most of what I have achieved in my life is because of this unwavering faith and dogged determination to follow through with what I want to do and what I believe in. I do get scared of failing, and I also feel upset when things do not work out as I would have expected them to, especially when I have worked incredibly hard for something. So, resilience is not about having a ‘stiff upper lip’ or not showing emotions. Rather it equips us with tools and strategies to deal with setbacks. …


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“ But, why would he need to do this”. This question hung over me for the rest of my time studying for my postgraduate course in that bitterly freezing, remote Northern town in the UK.

I had been in the United Kingdom for about six months studying for my postgraduate when it started. It started innocently, as we met in the Library. It was the time before Google, and the explosion of the internet and people still went to the library to get reference books and to study. We used to sit in adjoining booths, taking ownership of our spaces as we grappled with our dissertations. Our paths crossed and we started exchanging pleasantries. He was extremely good looking, athletic, intelligent. …


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Children have their own share of daily demands and when things don’t go as smoothly or their daily routine is disrupted or things change, they can feel unsettled. We do not realise it but the instant availability and focus on material goods can affect children’s mental health too. The focus on material goods can impact a child’s sense of identity, and research has shown that this culture of consumption is particularly influential in shaping self-worth for 4–12 year olds. …


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Blue Monday isn’t a real thing. It was just a light-hearted formula conceptualised in 2005 to predict the gloomiest day of the year, and has since been criticised by the MIND charity for being a marketing ploy. However, Seasonal Affective Disorder has been proven scientifically, considered to be triggered by the wintry days and lack of sun. Also, it has been shown that ‘January blues’ affect a large majority of the population as we get back to work and normal routine after the holidays, and there is pressure to achieve our new year resolutions.

Whether Blue Monday is real or not, if you’re feeling the effects of dark mornings and evenings, cold weather and the ‘January Blues’, the feelings will be very real for you. …


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Every time I heard my fellow PhD students talk disparagingly about other foreign students in our department, they would smile at me and say, “Of course, I wasn’t talking about you. You are not very foreign. You are almost British.” I took comfort in this. It meant that I was accepted, I was one of them, and I fit in. As is normal in any University in the UK, this was a very multi-cultural postgraduate student body, but I was still one of the very few women of colour.

I didn’t really have to try hard to fit in. I could speak almost flawless English. I went to the pub. I dressed as everyone else did. I was academically very bright, and one of the best researchers in the department. I understood their jokes and laughed with them. I could make fun of them; I could be sarcastic. “You get the British way,” someone once told me, and that “You are not very Indian.” Nevertheless, when I heard ‘not-very-Indian’ for the first time, it took me by surprise. I wasn’t sure what it meant, and I didn’t know whether I should feel offended or pleased. But, I had an unsettling feeling that a part of me was being stripped away from me. …


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Your Words Matter

Hello there. We’re so glad to have you! Below is listed the most updated information regarding submissions.

Please note: these rules are subject to change as Diverse Motherhood grows.

Who is Diverse Motherhood For?

Let’s be honest: No matter how many things we do in our lives, nothing has the power to change us like motherhood.

The overwhelming love. The fear of messing it all up. The sweet snuggles. The never-ending exhaustion. The eternal juggle. The struggle to find ourselves amongst the joys and pains of motherhood. Motherhood is all we’ve ever dreamed it to be and everything we feared at once. For most of us, it’s the most all-consuming thing we’ll ever do. Mothers come in all shapes and sizes, and so DM wants to bring stories of all kinds of mothers. …

About

Author of ‘SWAY: Unravelling Unconscious Bias’ ORDER: https://amzn.to/30Xe7NA Behavioral and Data Scientist. Journalist. Race Educator, 2x TEDx speaker

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