A Letter to Tanya Fields – The Single Mom of 5 With Three Babies Daddies

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Maria Lloyd writes open letter to Tanya Fields following her appearance on Melissa Harris-Perry.


Sis. Tanya,

I know you’ve been called many offensive names as of recent, so I’d like to apologize on behalf of our brothers and sisters for regarding you as anything less than the woman that you are.

Before I get into specific details that resulted in my decision to write this letter, I want you to know and over-stand that my intention is not to condemn you and/or further exploit your situation. I have a tremendous amount of respect for you and your dedication to tackling food insecurity in Black America. Thank you for bringing forth this issue that is oftentimes ignored. If there is anything I can do to support your efforts, please do not hesitate to let me know. I’m just a Tweet away (@WritingsbyMaria)!

I’m writing you because I read about your most recent interview on MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry” and I believe your story is a complex one that too often leads to the tail-chasing argument between Black men and Black women about single mothers. On one of many sides of the argument, you have Black women slamming Black men for being absent fathers; and on another of many sides of the argument, you have Black fathers slamming Black women for intentionally keeping their children away from their father. The debate almost always results in nothing more than name-calling and gender-bashing — no mutual accountability for poor decision-making is claimed and no solutions on how to raise the children of these circumstances responsibly is formed. Nothing of substance comes from these debates. This is why I questioned Melissa Harris-Perry’s decision to bring you back on her show. She didn’t encourage dialogue about the situation to understand where the passionate Tweets were coming from. She didn’t propose any solutions to helping you overcome the mental stress you’ve endured from having your remarks live-streamed for the world to scrutinize, nor did she offer any solutions as to how Black America can move forward in a respectful tone to address the growing problems associated with single family homes. She exploited your life to push forth a very dangerous agenda in Black America.

We must be very clear in understanding that your precious babies will be affected by your decision and their fathers’ decision to raise them in poverty. Melissa is capable of going to a plush home to eat a healthy meal with her husband and daughter with little-to-no concern about her finances. You, on the other hand, are a low-income single mother who is forced to be more conscious of her finances. You are being criticized because you and your children’s fathers are intentionally placing your children in dangerous situations that are beyond their control.  In addition to harming your children, you’re also harming yourself. Did you know that research says Black single moms have an extremely low quality of life? Are you also aware of the alarming rates of STD infections in Black America? There are a myriad of issues that stem from the actions that you and your children’s fathers have taken. If you truly care about your babies like I know you do, I implore you to take care of yourself. There’s no way you can be an adequate parent if you are stressed out and sick. You deserve better and your children deserve better.

I must admit that I was a bit disturbed when you and Melissa referred to the criticism you received as “shaming.” Don’t get me wrong, I know some of your critics were over the top and downright disrespectful, but writing off your critics’ remarks just because you don’t like them harms you, not your critics. The Honorable Min. Louis Farrakhan told me that his most harsh critics were the people who helped him become a better man. It takes a great deal of humility to listen to your critics and examine your shortcomings, but it’s very rewarding for you when you do.

I am the product of a single Black mother and an incarcerated Black father. I am my mother’s only child, but I’m the fourth of five children by my father. My siblings and I all have different mothers — yes, my father has five babies mothers! Life was and still is very challenging for my siblings and I because of our parent’s decisions. None of us chose to endure the trauma that comes from poverty and a lack of co-parenting. My mother has unconditional love for me and is proud of the woman I am today, but she never wanted me to make the same poor decisions she made that led to my existence. She has always been very transparent with me about her financial and emotional struggles as a Black single mother and encouraged me to not be intimate with men who are not financially and emotionally prepared to be an adequate parent. I hope that you will also be candid with your children about your struggles and encourage them to learn from your poor decisions.

Tanya, your track record shows me that you are a leader and you’re persistent. The most powerful tool a good leader possesses is discernment. A leader is able to decide when to step down and follow someone else’s lead. A leader is able to recognize their own weaknesses so that they can surround themselves around people who possess strength in those areas of weakness. The next time someone snaps at you about your decisions, challenge them to help you become a better woman. Open your heart to criticism and utilize this as an opportunity for growth and networking. Please don’t allow this opportunity of national attention to slip through your fingers without building long-term connections and striving to become a vessel of change for yourself, your children, and your community.

From one sister to the next, I encourage you to please take care of yourself.

With love,

Maria Lloyd