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Book Reviews

My Brown Baby: On the Joys and Challenges of Raising African-American Children

My Brown Baby: On the Joys and Challenges of Raising African-American Children by Denene Millner

Publisher: Agate Bolden
Pages: 272
Format: Paperback

For almost a decade, national parenting expert and bestselling author Denene Millner has published thought-provoking, insightful, sometimes wickedly funny commentary about motherhood on her critically acclaimed website The site, hailed as a “must-read” by the New York Times, speaks to the experiences, joys, fears, sorrows, and triumphs of African American motherhood, from pregnancy and child-rearing to relationships and the politics of parenting black children.

After publishing almost 2,000 posts aimed at lifting the voices of moms and dads of color, Millner has now curated My Brown Baby, a collection of the website’s most important and insightful essays. This one-of-a-kind parenting book offers perspectives on the issues moms of color and mothers of children of color face as they raise their kids—from birthing while black to negotiating discipline to preparing children for racism.

Through her website, Millner has created a space for African American moms and parents of black children, many of whom long to lend their critical but all-too-often ignored voices to the national parenting discussion. Full of essays that readers of all backgrounds will find provocative, My Brown Baby acknowledges that there absolutely are issues that African American parents must deal with that white parents never have to confront if they’re not raising brown children. This book chronicles these differences with open arms, a lot of love, and the deep belief that though we may come from separate places and have different backgrounds, all parents want the same things for our families, and especially for our children.

Are you an African-American mom or mom-to-be? Buy this book! A parent raising adopted children of color? Buy this book! Thinking about having your own children or adopting children of color in the future? Buy this book! Curious about what it’s like as a parent raising Black or mixed race children? Buy this book!

It’s a collection of personal essays taken from Denene Millner’s popular website over the past decade. The essays are organized by the different stages of parenting with topics like: the nuts and bolts of parenting Black children, the joys, pains, and politics of natural hair, Black children and racism, and tending to the self-esteem of Black children.

My personal favorite topics include: new motherhood,  raising them up, hair stories, the souls of black folk and mother love.  I found myself laughing out loud, nodding my head, smiling, and even tearing up a bit as I read this book. Being a Black parent raising two Black children, I found this book to be very relatable to me and our family.  I love that Millner has created this book to be the “voice” for us parents raising Black and brown children. While raising children is virtually the same for all parents across the board (regardless of race), there are in fact certain issues that parents raising White children will never have to confront.  Millner outlines these differences and embraces them with open arms throughout the book.

There are so many good nuggets of information and great essays found in the pages of My Brown Baby. You may find yourself highlighting and underlining several different passages or earmarking pages that you want to refer back to another time.  That is what happened to me.  This book really gets into the nitty gritty details of parenting Black children and “tells it like it is” through the eyes of the author who also happens to be a mother of two beautiful daughters. You’ll learn how to tend to the self-esteem for Black children, tackling naturally kinky hair, how to guard your children from the “N” word, and why Millner lets her children watch reality TV shows.

I also like the fact that readers get to know a little more about the author through some personal narrative.  She openly shares an early miscarriage story and also lets readers know that she is adopted.  I find Millner’s personal journey as a mother to be fascinating.  It’s so interesting to see how her experiences helped shape her into the wife and parent she is today.

While this book is geared towards African-Americans raising Black and Brown children, it can be read and enjoyed by people of all races.  Check it out for a dose of laughter and inspiration while learning modern-day parenting tips and techniques.

Your turn: Have you read this book yet?  Feel free to share your thoughts on the book in the comments.

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