“Where's the Black women?” 12 Moments From Our Podcast with Candice Brathwaite That Made Us Stop and Think - The Grace Tales

“Where’s the Black women?” 12 Moments From Our Podcast with Candice Brathwaite That Made Us Stop and Think



Candice Brathwaite has been the first in her family to do many things...

But even she finds it hard to believe that she is the very first Black parent in the UK to write a book sharing their experience of raising children. “Yes, in 2020!” she exclaims in our podcast episode. It’s well and truly time to hear what she has to say. These are just a few of our favourite moments.

Listen to the episode here


On being the only Black face in the mummy blogger community…

I’m a business girl first and foremost, and I just saw this huge gap in the market. I was like ‘these lists I’m always given never have any women of colour in them, let alone Black. None.’


On taking the risk and quitting her publishing job…

I thought right, there’s a gap that can be filled here, but it’s going to come with some risk and it’s going to come with some really long nights and days where you’re not going to be paid at all…it took me about three years to get my first paid gig, but I just doubled down on becoming a Black face in that space because I knew outside of my very selfish needs of wanting to build a freelance career for myself, I knew it was needed publicly. It could not go on this way forever.


On how slavery informs how Black people participate online…

It’s such a layered thing and it goes back, I would say, to just after slavery. I think we became very insular because we had seen what had happened to our race, and putting up walls, was our version of defence and protection ever since that time. And that has filtered down – now in Black families there’s this saying, family business. Keep this in the house. You do not go out in public and talk about your worst times or the harder things that you’re going through, because I think the idea behind that is there’s a fear that this information will be used against you.


On being the first Black parent in the UK to write about their experience…

Whenever I say it out loud, I’m just like ‘girl, are you sure?’ No, we’re sure. In the file of the British Library this has never been done in the UK before. A Black parent, not just mum, but a Black parent has never written a book from their perspective of raising children.


On why her book doesn’t belong to her…

There seems to be a pattern in my life where I’m the first to do things, and that comes with a lot of pressure. Internal and external. It also comes with a bit of trepidation because when I wrote this book, when I say things that I say online I understand that I’m perhaps using some verbal TNT to blow the doors off of a situation, and then many more faces that look like mine or many more people who see this as a viable career route will then come charging through. And so even though this book has my name on it, I always refer to it as a child I’ve carried that I know the day I give birth I’m giving it straight up for adoption. I’ve got no say in its name. In its life choices. In how people view or judge it. I was solely just here to carry this thing and now it doesn’t belong to me and that’s really scary. That’s very strange.


On being a quiet person who’s perceived as outspoken…

I have had to be really clear about boundaries with family, or really work through feelings of confidence surrounding boys and ex-boyfriends. Just all the usual trivial stuff which when you’re a Black woman has an extra layer of nuance and I had to do that in my private life first. I’ve had to do that by going to therapy. So me picking up Instagram Stories and just rattling on, it doesn’t even occur to me that I might be perceived as someone outspoken or someone who is not scared, because it’s the way I live my day-to-day life.


On how social media is negatively impacting the publishing business…

I used to work in publishing so it’s no lie that writing a book was always a dream for me, and I think I’m a half-decent writer, so I took the knockbacks really personally. I took them even more personally because they were always dressed in this idea of ‘oh, your social media is not big enough yet. We love your work. We love this idea, but we need you to get another 50 000 followers before we take this on.’ And it’s that bit to me that just breaks my heart because could you imagine if J.K. Rowling was trying to do Harry Potter now, and that was the energy? I sincerely feel like we’re missing out on some great work because of where publishing is as a business. They are expecting debut authors to have millions of followers to help support the launch of these titles. I can only imagine the kind of proposals that don’t see the light of day because certain people don’t have certain social media credentials.


On the writing process…

It’s a very personal book. It’s very hard-hitting, and I think I underestimated the themes within the book. They hit me really hard, and some days I was just exhausted. I very much envy those who have a strict writing schedule. I had an almost two-year-old and a five-year-old at the time. I couldn’t abide to waking up at 5am and writing for three hours and doing all of that. So there were a lot of staying up until 3am and then not writing for two weeks, and then banging out 10,000 words in a day.


On how the maternal health system fails Black women…

I had Esmé by emergency C-section and three days later I developed sepsis, and I’d been feeling unwell since I’d been discharged from the hospital, and no one was taking me seriously. That then resulted in me spending almost five weeks away from my newborn because I was in intensive care. The data now surrounding childbirth in the UK – Black women are five times more likely than white women to die in childbirth. That was the data as of 2019.


On how Brexit affected her five year old…

There has been a steep rise in the idea that all foreigners should go back to where they come from, and there’s been people forgetting that a place like the UK could not be what it is now without the help of those they class as foreigners and unskilled immigrant workers holding this country up. And me having to parent a child through these truths has been more heartbreaking than me recognizing them for myself, because my kid was five when that happened. Five. And you’re being ostracized in the playground because of something you didn’t choose and you cannot change.


On why diversity isn’t just about race…

When we talk about privilege or the idea of not seeing ourselves, I can’t lie. I was online or reading parenting magazines only looking for myself. Where’s the Black women? Oh, there’s one. Okay cool, not enough. So when Make Motherhood Diverse launched and then we had same-sex parents being like ‘I’ve never seen myself in an advert’ or a mum in a wheelchair say ‘I’ve never myself represented’. The alarm bells just started ringing and I was like right, it’s so much more than just Black women not seeing themselves.


On the solution to lack of diversity…

When I see a campaign, parenting or otherwise, that only shows white people, able-bodied, I automatically know that that is what the employees of this brand look like. That is what the PR they have hired look like, because you can only see something’s missing if you are the thing that is missing. And so I always tell brands your job is to make your PR team diverse.


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