Dillard Today Newsroom

Defining Motherhood

Title: Defining Motherhood
Author: Lauren R.D. Fox
Photographer: Sabree Hill

help me
turn the face of history
to your face.
- June Jordan, Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems

American born Meghan Markle became the first African-American to marry into the Royal Windsor family on May 19, 2018. Less than a year to the date of her first wedding anniversary, she birthed the seventh royal in line to the throne, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. Although Prince Archie’s birth was celebratory, it did, however, cause controversy within British society, media and (my Caribbean aunts). While British citizens and media talking heads found ways to speculate Prince Archie’s features through racial stereotypes, my aunts, who were raised in a British Colony, found it peculiar that Meghan Markle, an actress, former divorcee and millennial did not adhere to the Royal tradition of presenting her child to the public immediately after giving birth.

Meghan Markle and her husband, Prince Harry, waited two days to present their child and their defiance to tradition made trolls (and my aunts alike) roll up their sleeve to ask, “Who does she [Meghan Markle] think she is?”

Whether their partnered (or not) Black mothers are the most policed mothers on the planet. To their intimate relationships, body parts or child-rearing— the government, peers and arch-nemeses have tried and true ways to alienate and persecute Black mothers.

“Why does Meghan have the press in such paroxysms? Well, she is an interloper: divorced, American, biracial and, apparently, progressive. And she dares not only to inhabit the role of duchess but also to make it her own,” British journalist Tanya Gold wrote for The New York Times.

This curation of motherhood goes for all Black mothers; despite Black culture being loaded with different religions, languages and ethnicities, patriarchy has tried to make it and Black women a monolith. While some Black women will have (and raise) their children with men after they’re married and degreed, some will do the same with women or persons with queer identities. There will be Black women who have children against their will or be elated and surprised that the human spirit and biology defied science and contraception. No two women (especially those who identify as Black) have “the traditional motherhood” story.

This Mother’s Day, Dillard University highlights two Fair Dillard mothers, Associate Head Basketball and Volleyball Coach Loretta Martin ‘10 and Rising Senior/ Basketball athlete Demetricia “Jabria” Pounds. Years apart, both women became pregnant in college. Learn how they dealt with impending motherhood while they juggled academics, relationships and of course, college life.

Dillard University (DU): What was your first reaction when you became pregnant?
Loretta Martin (LM): When I first found out I was scared because it was my first year in college and basketball was everything to me at that time. When I say basketball was everything, it really was!
Demetricia “Jabria” Pounds (DJP): I was scared of what becoming a mother meant for me and how my family would look at me.

DU:Did your family or community shame you?
LM: I didn't feel shamed by anyone; I just didn't want [people] to know my business at that moment.
DJP: I was a little ashamed because [my community spoke and thought highly of me].

DU:How did your child's father react?
LM:He was nervous, scared and excited all at the same time when I told him I was pregnant.
DJP:He was scared because he did not want to be a bad father and it was just as shocking to him as it was to me.

DU:How did your parents react?
LM:My parents told me, “Loretta you’re going to finish college even if it that means we have to take care of your child while you’re in college.”
DJP: My mother was very upset with me, more so for not [telling] her I was pregnant [when I found out early on].

DU:Is the saying: "You find out who your true friends are when you become pregnant" true?
LM:Not at all! My friends were still my friends before the pregnancy, during, and after the pregnancy.
DJP: That saying is not true to me because I’ve only had one best friend my whole life. She was the most supportive person [I had] during my pregnancy and now she is the best Godmother my little boy could ask for.

DU:What was is like having a child while you were in college?
LM:Having Ireyell in college was a challenge because I was just getting started on my path in college. My first 2 years I was about three hours away from home (where Ireyell stayed with my mom). Every chance I got I traveled home to see her and my family. They also came to [my] games when they could.
DJP: I thought it was going to be difficult but my family and best friend help raise my son and make sure he has what he needs. They also ensure my head is on straight while I’m on campus.

DU:How did your responsibilities change during and after your pregnancy?
LM: My pregnancy was a breeze, I played basketball until I was eight months pregnant. After pregnancy it was a [learning curve], but I got the hang of it real quick.
DJP: My responsibilities did not changed as much because I’ve been raising my cousin for a minute [sic] so motherhood came very easy to me.

DU:Did your guardians dictate how you were going to raise your child?
LM:Not at all. I just watched my mother raise her kids and I wanted to be just like her.
DJP: My mother and I have similar [parenting methods] so it’s never an issue on how we are raising my son.

DU:Did you maintain a relationship with your partner? If yes, what romantic challenges did you both face? If not, what was is like raising your child as a single mother?
LM: Raising my child as a single mother was actually cool being that I had my parents to step up and always have my back when it came to my child.
DJP: No, I did not maintain an intimate relationship with [my son’s] father but we are co-parenting very well and we do [different family activities] together with our son.

DU:Dillard is a conservative HBCU. Were you socially ostracized on campus?
LM:No, I was well known on campus mainly for my sense of humor and willingness to help others.
DJP: Most people on campus don’t know I have a son unless I tell them. Other than that, no one on campus treats me different or compares me to [my peers].

DU: How did/do you have the quintessential college experience?
LM:I had an awesome college experience at Dillard University. Basketball was [the key] to my overall success Dillard.
DJP: Ha-ha [Laughing]

DU:Medical professionals usually ignore Black women when they say they are in pain or feel like something is wrong during their pregnancies. Did you experience this? What was the birthing process like for you? Did you have a doctor, doula or midwife?
LM:My pregnancy was kind of different [because] I played basketball for eight months. I didn't have any pain during childbirth; it just happened so fast. [I had] no medicine and no doctor visits for eight months. My birthing process was very quick; [I got] to the hospital at 3:52pm and had Ireyell at 4:06pm.
DJP: I was a high risk patient. My doctors and nurses were very good to me [during labor]. They made sure [I had a smooth birthing process] and they were very kind hearted.

DU:What is the most important lesson you've learned as a mother?
LM:To be genuine and true and to be the best version of myself. [I also learned]: “don't let anybody tell you what you can’t do.”
DJP: I have learned how to be more patient and understanding. Also [I’ve learned] everything does not revolve around me and my needs.

DU:What do you want your child to know most about life?
LM: [I would say]: When you’re enrolled in school, stay focus on your education and always strive for greatness. Finish school and start your career before anything else.
DJP: [I would say]: Things are never given to you. You have to work hard over time hours to accomplish your goals and dreams. If he thinks like that then he can become anything in the world.

DU:Why did you continue your education at Dillard?
LM: I wanted to be closer to home so that I can be with my child and family.
DJP: I got a fresh start and the school gave me a better opportunity to accomplish my dreams. I also have people who are willing to help me make my dreams come true at Dillard.

Click Below To View Some Mother's Day Story Photos

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