Written by Shea Williams
Why she rocks: Erin is a community activist and a founding member of a food cooperative aimed at providing access to healthy foods in lower economic communities.
Erin’s Story: Single Mom of Two Prince Kings
Erin is a mother, community activist, political strategist, and cultural worker in Raleigh NC. She became a single mom after her marriage of many years ended in divorce. She experienced financial struggles commonly experienced by many single mothers and found it difficult to adjust to other parts of the divorce process.
“I’m fortunate because I’ve have never had to be the sole provider for my kids like so many other single moms. Even though my ex and I aren’t together, we have a healthy co-parenting relationship and agreement. When they’re with me, I’m responsible for everything that they need and vice versa. The most difficult part of the transition were the feelings of loneliness when they go to their dad’s. I went from having a full house to an empty nest. The first day was the elation of having freedom but by the second day, I missed them dearly.”
She struggled to find work life balance in the wake of her divorce, often times unintentionally sacrificing time with her kids.
“The demands of my job were really difficult to manage. It required lots of shifting around of schedules and even though their dad was accommodating it was frustrating to manage the competing responsibilities. I felt really guilty a lot of times asking for help and that I wasn’t there for PTA meetings, and games and all the things you’re expected to do as a mother. After realizing the impact it was having on my kids, I eventually got to the place where I made it point to prioritize them. That meant saying no and not being as accessible to others as I was before. I didn’t want to look up one day and my kids were resentful for all of the things they missed out on because of my work demands.
There are a lot of people who set out to save the world while their kids are suffering. For me I realized that I couldn’t save the world without saving my kids, and saving my kids meant they had a strong sense of self. It meant they had an understanding of these systems that are in place that are trying to destroy them because they are both black boys. I wanted them to know that their mother was there for them, that they could depend on me while also trying to hold the weight of the world.”
Erin, a longtime community organizer is one of the founding members of the Fertile Ground Food Cooperative, a community and cultural center in Southeast Raleigh.
“I do a lot work in the community but the food cooperative is the most important for a couple of reasons. One, it’s a business that is collectively owned by its members. I can preface this by saying I think we’re in a fight against racism, capitalism and other isms. One of the things that they do is create an economy whereby most of us are workers and other people own our labor. I grind all day and somebody else is reaping the benefits of my labor. A cooperative is model that offers an economic tool that will help us to create more jobs, prosperity and wealth in our communities. All of us are owners and for me it serves as a direct counter to capitalism as an economic engine. It gives members the opportunity to practice governance, provides access to healthy affordable foods which is often times not accessible in lower economic communities.”
Along with her community work, she’s received several awards for her activism and fight for social justice.
“I’ve received awards from the NAACP, the Citizen of the Year award and others but what’s most rewarding for me is when people that I work with are better able to understand their own power and are willing to work collectively with others to use it. I collaborate with this organization called Southern Partners’ Fund, and they have a principle that says you can’t empower people, you can only give people a sense of their own power. Everybody has power, it’s a question of helping them to see and use it. The more that I can grow that spirit in people, the more rewarding my work becomes. We’re building the foundation for the next generation to win and investing in their leadership is critical to helping my people become free.”
Erin offers this advice to other single moms— “Taking the time to self-reflect about who you are and who you want to be. Being accountable to where you’ve made errors and mistakes and most importantly loving yourself. Working to have deep self-love is not something that happens overnight but it’s a process that we’re all continuing to work on. The change that we want to see in the world really starts within ourselves. We tend to take care of everybody else in the world when our own needs aren’t being met. I don’t think other people can meet our needs necessarily until we really know who we are.”
Erin, we are impressed with your work, your passion, tenacity, and resilience. You are a mom who rocks!
#MomsWhoRocks #ChallengingStereotypes #ExtraordinaryOrdinaryMoms