Black History Month:The Power of a Mother’s Voice

By Kuae Kelch Mattox
National President, Mocha Moms, Inc.

It’s been said that there is no one more protective than a mother over her children, and when it comes to our children’s health, our passion knows no bounds. Yet many women, like me, grew up taking the environment and the air we breathe for granted. We left the work of fighting for clean air to the die-hard environmentalists and dared speak up unless an issue hit too close to home.

But now across this country, many mothers, and mothers organizations in particular are realizing the incredible power of their collective voice. Mothers are the new face of environmentalism. You see us now on the frontlines, writing letters to the editor of our local paper, organizing grassroots efforts to educate our peers, promoting online environmental campaigns, going door to door with petitions and demanding accountability at town hall meetings. We now know that clean air is not only important, it is vital to the health and well being of future generations.

As an African American wife of an asthma sufferer and mother of three children, one of whom also suffers from asthma, I am horrified by the statistics that are devastating our community. African Americans visit the emergency room for asthma at 350 percent the average rate that whites do, and die from it twice as often. Mortality rates for cancer are higher for African Americans than for any other group, and heart disease is the most fatal illness in the black community.

We need to expand the conversation to include the environmental causes of illnesses that affect communities of color, the pollution that makes its way into our schools and the environmental challenges in our neighborhoods that hold back economic growth.

When the EPA asked Mocha Moms to join them in the fight for cleaner air, we jumped at the chance to further educate our mothers and their families.
Our hope is that our partnership with the EPA is only the beginning of an ongoing national dialog to empower mothers of color to be greater advocates for healthier environments. We are thrilled to have a seat at the discussion table. After all, it is our children who will ultimately reap the greatest benefit.

About the author: Kuae Kelch Mattox is the National President for Mocha Moms, Inc.  Mocha Moms, Inc. is a national, non-profit organization that supports stay at home mothers of color with 100 chapters in 29 states.

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