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Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines

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An anthology that gives access to the voices of mothers of color and marginalized mothers
Revolutionary Love on the Frontlines is an anthology that centers mothers of color and marginalized mothers’ voices—women who are in a world of necessary transformation. The challenges faced by movements working for antiviolence, anti-imperialist, and queer liberation, as well as racial, economic, reproductive, gender, and food justice are the same challenges that marginalized mothers face every day. Motivated to create spaces for this discourse because of the authors’ passionate belief in the power of a radical conversation about mothering, they have become the go-to people for cutting-edge inspired work on this topic for an overlapping committed audience of activists, scholars, and writers. Revolutionary Mothering is a movement-shifting anthology committed to birthing new worlds, full of faith and hope for what we can raise up together. Contributors include alba onofrio, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Ariel Gore, Arielle Julia Brown, Autumn Brown, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, China Martens, Christy NaMee Eriksen, Claire Barrera, Cynthia Dewi Oka, Esteli Juarez Boyd, Fabielle Georges, Fabiola Sandoval, Gabriela Sandoval, H. Bindy K. Kang, Irene Lara, June Jordan, Karen Su, Katie Kaput, Layne Russell, Lindsey Campbell, Lisa Factora-Borchers, Loretta J. Ross, Mai’a Williams, Malkia A. Cyril, Mamas of Color Rising, Micaela Cadena, Noemi Martinez, Norma A. Marrun, Panquetzani, Rachel Broadwater, Sumayyah Talibah, Tara CC Villaba, Terri Nilliasca, tk karakashian tunchez, Victoria Law, and Vivian Chin.

272 pages, Paperback

First published January 29, 2016

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About the author

Alexis Pauline Gumbs

24 books396 followers
Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a poet, independent scholar, and activist. She is author of Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity and coeditor of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines and the Founder and Director of Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind, an educational program based in Durham, North Carolina.

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5 stars
294 (65%)
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129 (28%)
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22 (4%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 62 reviews
Profile Image for Hannah.
245 reviews
June 1, 2016
I can't overstate the importance of parenting narratives that push back against the white supremacist capitalist cishet nuclear family norm & I can't overstate my gratitude and debt to women of colour and their insistence on the inclusion of mothering as power, liberation, and radical activism.

And also, I wish there had been more than one trans woman in this book, and I was hoping for some perspectives that integrated a powerful comprehension of mothering as divine with something other than binary biological essentialism, and didn't quite get that.
Profile Image for Melissa Espiritu.
96 reviews11 followers
June 14, 2016
I truly appreciated reading all the different perspectives of mothers whose experiences I identified with and the ones whose experiences were new to me. As a new mom, as with many new moms, I feel like I've discovered a new motivation and a new will in me to find ways to create a new world for my kids. And this newfound motivation touches upon almost every aspect of my life because motherhood touches upon every aspect of my life, even the parts that are solely about my own self-actualization. My point is that many moms discover this within them but with very little guidance or language or community about what it means to challenge the mainstream culture around motherhood, revolutionize the world around them as mothers, and bring their mothering into all the other spaces in their life, all while caring and providing for their own children. The narratives in this book help you reflect and understand what that would mean, a world in which we can mother by centering or truly placing value in the ideas and labor of mothers, in particular, working class single mothers of color of all ages, sexualities, and genders. I think this book proposes that if we center the ideas and labor of these women, we will find that taking care of ourselves and our community will become the most central value in our society. And by doing so, everyone can self-actualize, be healthy, and fulfill their potential.
Profile Image for zara.
116 reviews289 followers
June 26, 2023
what took me so long! I picked this book up a few years ago, when I was a new parent, looking for a guide, trying to learn how to do this thing called revolutionary mothering. coming back to it now, as someone with almost 10 years of parenting and caregiving under my belt, it’s made me feel seen and affirmed and held. this collection tells the stories of m/others at the margins- mothers who are Black, Indigenous, disabled, teen aged, solo. It talks about mothering as a social practice, as a queer practice, as a practice of transforming relations. I’m so grateful for this collection and I know I will revisit many of these essays again.
Profile Image for Zaynab.
54 reviews190 followers
May 1, 2016
As someone who is currently crafting her own plan for future revolutionary/fugitive mothering endeavors, reading this anthology was an extreme delight. It was heartfelt, searing in its truths and critiques of systems of oppression, and endearing with the personal antidotes about everyday parenting maneuvers. As a black queer Muslim, I tend to be severely ambivalent about raising children and/or starting my own family given the current states of oppression. Yet I feel better knowing there are other parents out there intent on family creation as an act of resistance.

Kudos to the editors, of whom I've gotten to know in person and through cyber space. I look forward to more productions such as this, dispatches from the lines of revolutionary mothering.
June 12, 2020
yall😭🥺 this book. this anthology took my heart apart and put it back together again. every single piece left me tender, in awe, challenged, and so grateful and privileged to learn from these radical mothers and be raised by one too. i originally bought this as part of my own journey healing my relationship with my mom, particularly unlearning internalized expectations of white motherhood. this is so much more! to read from so many Black, Indigenous, & other mothers of color, LGBTQ+ mothers, single mothers, low-income mothers, mothers with disabilities, & all the intersections— revolutionary mothers! was just 🥺😭 ill have to come back to this book & this review...
Profile Image for Laura Sackton.
1,073 reviews90 followers
January 31, 2018
Revolutionary Mothering is an anthology comprised of essays and poems by radical, revolutionary mothers. The voices in this book are the voices that are so often ignored in mainstream conversations about motherhood: queer and trans mamas, mamas of color, single moms, poor mothers, young mothers.

Inspired by This Bridge Called My Back, a collection of essays by radical women of color, published in 1981 and now a classic feminist text, Revolutionary Mothering is similar in tone and substance. The essays range from the academic to the personal. Some read like memoir, others are mostly feminist/radical analysis, and some lie more in the realm of manifesto.

While this was absolutely a worthwhile read, I found many of the pieces too vague or too short. I felt many of the contributions lacked a narrative arc, central theme, or organizing structure. I understood the importance of what these women had to say, but found it hard to connect to on a gut level. At times, the writing felt dry and vague; instead of sinking into the stories of radical motherhood, reading it felt more like being at a university lecture.

That said, I still think this book is absolutely worth reading. It brilliantly busts open all gatekeepers of motherhood, the idea that being a mother means being white, finically stable, straight, partnered, biologically related to your child. We so often put mothers on a pedestal, and when people dare to live whole, complicated, imperfect lives, lives that include parenthood, we chastise them for not doing it right, for not being perfect parents, for being poor or single or queer or living in the wrong neighborhood.

The women who contributed to this anthology represent a beautiful diversity of ways to be a mother. Their experiences are not the same, but they all share a commitment to motherhood as a radical action. These are mothers who have built all kinds of non-biological family, who have given birth or chosen not to, who are poor, who had children as teenagers, who love their children deeply, and who struggle with how parenthood redefines and rearrange a life.

They write about the deep joy they’ve experienced as mothers as well as the injustices they’ve faced as people of color, queer people, and mothers who don’t fit the mainstream mold. They write about motherhood as being revolutionary, about the various ways mothering is part of a larger struggle for justice, about the importance of nurturing, of raising children in activist communities, of building movements that include parents and children. I recommend it to anyone interested in expanding their ideas about motherhood and what it means–not just for parents, but for all of us humans.

Read my full review here.
Profile Image for Katy.
434 reviews14 followers
January 6, 2019
“You will be turned inside out. If not during the birth, then during the pregnancy, if not the pregnancy, by the nursing, by the sleepless night, the mind-bending loneliness, sooner or later you will break down. You will think, believe you cannot go on. You will realize that if you ever thought that facing yourself, the bloody, ugly, sublime truth of yourself was the ultimate responsibility, you were wrong. It is to face yourself and realize you cannot run away because another life, your child’s, depends on this ultimate self-encounter.”

-Mai’a Williams, Revolutionary Mothering

This book speaks to my heart. Several times I found myself with tears in my eyes, not because of how sad it was but because of how true it was.

This was a library book but I hope to soon own this book and consult it regularly.

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Profile Image for Joy Messinger.
385 reviews51 followers
February 19, 2017
Revolutionary Mothering is a collection of essays and poetry that discussed all the ways that mothering looks. I found myself captivated by each chapter as I honored the different experiences of mothering shared by the writers - black, indigenous, queer, immigrant, poc, solo, partnered, poor, rural, urban, southern, midwestern, coastal. So much of relationship to reproductive rights & justice has been connected to my politics around mothering, as an adoptee, a feminist, a queer woman of color. I'd recommend this anthology to anyone who has thought about mothering, in the broadest sense of the word, and who wants to explore the myriad iterations of mothering in families & communities.
Profile Image for Jo.
24 reviews3 followers
April 30, 2018
I devoured this book. I know I’ll return to it over and over again.
6 reviews5 followers
December 31, 2019
This was my last book of 2019 and probably my favorite book that I read this year. It was a collage of poems, essays, letters, histories, and personal narratives from various mothers and mother figures who expressed their experiences navigating social structures in a world that sees motherhood as apolitical. This book taps into the complicated power of motherhood and women’s communal caregiving that is consistent despite differences in poverty, race, politics, culture, etc, which is why it is so radical. I loved this book and it is definitely on my list to gift to all the mommas I know.
Profile Image for Artnoose McMoose.
Author 2 books34 followers
April 2, 2019
This is an anthology of different accounts of mothering from a wide range of people. Lots of diversity on several different levels.
Profile Image for Emily.
8 reviews
March 22, 2021
Such a good book with writings from lots of revolutionary mothers of color. Emotional and inspiring, more people should read this book.
Profile Image for Marisa.
142 reviews
February 2, 2023
Read this after picking up Mai'a Williams's book "This is How We Survive: Revolutionary Mothering, War, and Exile on the Front Lines" and this book was a good companion. I read it very slowly, maybe one or two essays a night. They're short, varying widely in style and content, but the book is organized intuitively which was nice. Mothering is treated more expansively than giving birth to a biological child, but as usual, a book that does so much leaves you wishing it did even more (more on mothering teenagers, on mothering grandchildren, on adoption or fostering, or mothering young people in a chosen family, etc.) But this book is a great resource.
Profile Image for ONYX Pages.
50 reviews359 followers
March 3, 2017
I'm so thankful to the editors and the contributors to this wonderful piece of work. I have been reading fiction for the past year, so it took a few pages for me to get into the writing.

I loved reading stories about mothering that were written by a diverse group of women at different stages of their lives. I don't want to include any spoilers in this review, but I will say that each story in this anthology illustrated the strength, vulnerability, and the necessity of revolutionary mothering. I have to say that my respect for women and transwomen who mother in difficult circumstances has grown as a result of reading this work. I also feel even more grateful for the women who have mothered me in addition to my biological mother.

I would recommend this anthology to anyone who is seeking to discover new ways to understand the importance and contributions of women and transwomen who choose to bring new life into this world. My reading group will be reading this book in the month of March, and I can't wait to see the discussions that unfold!
82 reviews
June 27, 2018
There are so many great things to say about this book. A great introduction to intersectionality. By reading all those stories, manifesto and poems by women from minorities, you cannot help but feel this radicality of being a mom. How political and yet natural it is to bring a child to this world and to do your best. May you be on the front lines of activism, plagued with chronic pain, or undermined because of the colour of your skin, your love partners or the gender to associate to, in the end, mothering is love. Radical love. Revolutionary love. I said it before, but even more after this book, but becoming a mother, matrescence, means a revolution. It only makes sense for mothering to be revolutionary. At that the end seek by this revolution is love.

My copy is heavily altered by lines, stars and hearts that I wrote in the margins. I want to go back to this book from time to time. Some pieces resonated more with me, of course. And indeed, from my privileged position in society, I cannot phantom what many of those writers have gone through. But I get them better, which was the goal of this book. Personal is political. "Mothering is love by any means necessary."

PS- Please note that there is a bias toward natural birth et al.
Profile Image for Okra  Book Club.
10 reviews
April 1, 2021
This book was revolutionary, necessary and enlightening. A must-read for anyone who is looking to adopt/foster/mother or nurture children.

We loved that we got to see many different versions of what it means to practice revolutionary mothering. In the past, Western society taught us that 'acceptable' mothering happened under a nuclear, heteronormative model. Non-Western cultures advocated that 'good' mothering is a complete sacrifice of self and identity. Many of us will definitely be revisiting this book when we ready to have kids. Many of us are already doing the work. We are practising some of the revolutionary mothering principles offered in our interactions with our younger family members and mentees.

Engagment for Okra bookclub

We had so much fun in our book club discussing this book. This book helped us to work through and verbalise our own experiences with motherhood( as daughters). In addition to this, the socio-political ramifications of motherhood for working women.

Our takeaway?

As WOC we are rejecting the nuclear model of parenting. We don't need it. We don't want it; it is hurting us. We want community parenting and to be more than Mother. We want to m/other ourselves.
Profile Image for Elle Barrett.
24 reviews1 follower
December 7, 2021
This is such an important book full of so many gems. These are just a few of my favorite quotes:

“I try not to get overwhelmed by being a mother to a daughter; in magic healing the body trusts our resiliency. She knows she’s strong, powerful and her body is hers and to trust her tummy feelings, and then I let go.” Body Memory, Fabiola Sandoval

“Perhaps the kind of home we need today is mobile, multiple, and underground.
Perhaps we need to become unavailable for state scrutiny so that we can experiment with reorganizing our social relations in revolutionary ways.
Against the rallying cry of freedom, I propose to embed rev- olutionary struggle in a politics of necessity and responsibility, a politics that enhances our encumbrance upon each other while re- jecting the extension of our dependence on state and capital.”
Mothering as Revolutionary Praxis, Cynthia Dewi Oka

“The birth of my child was the birth of a radical. I no longer had the luxury of dying young.” She Is a Radical, Tara Villalba and Lola Mondragón
Profile Image for Kira.
64 reviews1 follower
April 23, 2018
This book has been fundamental in shaping my understanding of the action and power of love. This book is a must read, especially for anyone who is parenting or nurturing change and anyone who is part of a feminist discourse. The wide array of experience and the individual narratives are crucial to gaining a better understanding of what humanity means and what activism means. I don’t usually enjoy anthologies/essays but this book changed my mind on that opinion, as well as some previously held bias’ against mothering and challenged this dominant dualism present in many white feminist discourses that pits being a mother as unimportant or against the cause of feminism. Very mind opening book.
Profile Image for Alison.
120 reviews1 follower
August 14, 2018
These are the stories I’ve been looking for as a mother. The stories of survival, struggle, death and of course love that I haven’t been able to find in mainstream culture. The stories are of something bigger than the individual mothers themselves. They tell of why, as mothers, they have to fight. Fight for their children. Fight for themselves. Fight for humanity. Fight to change the world. As Lisa Factora-Borchers writes in her story Birthing the New Feminism, “motherhood is the state of helpless yearning… [and the] crazy urge to clean up the world for my son.”
Profile Image for Christa.
379 reviews
August 26, 2021
At first this felt like homework in a philosophy of feminism course, but as I continued there were more soulful pieces that were easier for me to connect to.
The book maybe would have benefitted from a single editor or a final edit as there are typos and the flow of the pieces can be jarring, but it was a look at mothering in a non-white/capitalist-centered way that I haven't seen elsewhere and I recommend it heartily to anyone looking to broaden their worldview and expand their definitions of motherhood (which I think everyone should do!).
February 11, 2020
First off I want to thank all the contributors to this phenomenal body of work! I am studying to become a Birth & Postpartum Doula and this book was recommended to me. I can’t give it enough stars! I highly recommend this book if you’re thinking of birthing an idea, a cause, a revolution or of course a child!! From the introduction, the poetry, to the overall experience each woman shared, was just what I needed in my toolkit to become the best Doula I can be!
Profile Image for Quail.
87 reviews
August 19, 2020
i am really grateful this book exists. not every essay knocks it out of the park but the combination of many of them speaking to deep, profound truths about (the attempted to be de-gendered concept of) 'mothering' and the breadth of experience represented, this is a very satisfying book that i was glad to read on the cusp of parenthood! great wit and wisdom contained therein.
Profile Image for Jalisa.
287 reviews
November 23, 2020
This book gave me so much to think about in terms of the many ways that we mother and mothering as a creative, subversive project especially for Black folks because we weren't meant to survive. I loved the vast voices involved in the project from many walks of life in a variety of forms. Definitely recommend.
Profile Image for Vic S-F.
252 reviews10 followers
February 18, 2022
"The world shows itself in full color the first night you become a parent. You begin to yearn for the impossible: guarantees of safety and justice."

As mentioned in several essays in the collection, the working title for this book was "This Bridge Called My Baby" and I loved it as a spiritual companion in that way. so so so good
Profile Image for Marit.
385 reviews54 followers
May 13, 2023
Every essay and poem in this collection is different though all are unabashedly radical and full of love, love in all its facets, soft, sharp, gentle, forceful, etc. Love grounded in both self-love and love for their children. There were some that I found obtuse but most were very readable and eye- and heart-opening.
Profile Image for cat.
1,060 reviews30 followers
March 26, 2019
4.5 but I will ALWAYS round up for Alexis Pauline Gumbs and anyone that she gathers for an anthology. This was the book that I chose to read right after a more mainstream book on expecting and mothering because I needed a dose of revolutionary mother love.
Profile Image for j9fr Gnzlz.
9 reviews
June 7, 2021
Truly a beautiful and inspiring piece of art.
Reading this gave me such a feeling of community and it made me feel empowered as a queer latine radical mother.
I feel like I’ve cried and healed with these mothers.
Im recommending this to all my friends.
5 reviews1 follower
July 9, 2022
A beautiful anthology of what it means to be a mother and what trials one may face in becoming and being a mother. I had picked up this book because Gumbs is one of my favorite authors, but I have found many more writers that I will look out for thanks to this book!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 62 reviews

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