Ask any mother about their desires for their children and ultimately, you’ll hear the same things no matter who you ask. Mothers (parents in general) desire that their children are healthy, safe, and that they have access to the sort of education that opens them up to boundless opportunities.
However, there’s only one segment of mothers heard from in the media: white conservative mothers.
Whether the discussion involves the banning of books, social emotional learning, issues surrounding honoring the humanity of children of the LGBTQ+ community or increasing the presence of police in schools, white women are positioned as the representative class for mothers; particularly politically conservative white women.
As a strategy of the Republican Party, and with the help of the media—whether directly or indirectly—they’ve been given a platform within the culture wars and their “ascent” within the national dialogue surrounding the education of children has landed them an organization that houses their hatred.
That organization is Moms of Liberty (M4L). The group of reportedly 150,000 was founded by three conservative white women from Florida; one who is married to Florida GOP chair.
Recently, the group appeared in Philadelphia where they held their national convening to discuss the above-mentioned issues. They heard from former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former president Donald Trump rail against wokeness, Critical Race Theory (CRT), LGBTQ+ indoctrination, COVID-19, and anything else they believed stripped (white) parents of their parental autonomy where the schooling of their children is concerned.
They held a breakout session on how to activate flipped school boards to work for the causes of the group and conducted readings of the Federalist Papers titled “Faith of the Founders.”
But this isn’t an organization of concerned moms as they portray themselves to be. The Southern Poverty Law Center identifies M4L as “a far-right organization that engages in anti-student inclusion activities and self-identifies as part of the modern parental rights movement.”
It’s because members target school officials and other parents who oppose them with various means of intimidation.
While national organizers claim that the group, whom refer to themselves as “joyful warriors,” is diverse, the behaviors of local chapters say otherwise. Local chapters around the country have established relationships with the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters, white Christian nationalist and QAnon conspiracy theorists. Also, an Indiana chapter had to recently apologize for quoting Adolf Hitler in its newsletter.
These groups joining forces with the “parental rights” group at protests and school board meetings have pushed the already far-right organization toward even more extreme ideology. This is who Philadelphia “welcomed” into the city in July.
While those “joyful warriors” who would intimidate those, who stands in opposition of them seem the most dangerous, it is important to note that all 150,000 members are a dangerous representation of where the United States is trending even further towards: a country overly consumed by the concept of liberty to be bigots and racists, and not justice.
When we think of liberty, we tend to think of freedom. Liberty is at the root of the word liberation; a word frequently utilized among those within the Black freedom struggle. But according to the dictionary, the word liberty can also mean (1) a right or immunity [or privilege] enjoyed by prescription or by grant (2) or an action going beyond normal limits.
The fight for M4L is NOT about liberty and justice for all. The fight for “liberty” by these moms is a bigoted fight for whiteness and the privileges thereof.
Their fight is against white guilt and any recompense by the descendants of white settlers who engineered (and profited from) the political and economic harms done to Black people.
M4L utilizes the politics of white Christian nationalism—with the foundation of the coded language for anti-Black racism to galvanize white political engagement—to activate conservatives to move against any backlash against white supremacy. While M4L was founded in at the start of 2021, it is rooted in the very foundational philosophy just mentioned that translated into votes for Donald Trump; with Trump winning the votes of the majority of white women in both 2016 and 2020.
Justice is not part of their platform.
The truth is that white women since 1952 (18 presidential elections over a 68 year span), the majority of white women have only voted for the democratic candidate twice (Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and Bill Clinton in 1996). It is the hope of this certifiable hate group that they are able to galvanize white women for Trump or DeSantis or some other problem in 2024 as a result of their advocacy for bias, hatred, and racism.
M4L is part of the tradition of white women who have historically upheld and maintained white supremacy dating back to Antebellum America. According to UC Berkeley history professor and author of They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South Stephanie Jones-Rogers, white women “were at the table when the system was designed… They were co-architects of the system.”
White women yelled and screamed at Black children as they integrated schools. They opposed school integration after the Brown decision mandated it and even today many want schools to be integrated, just not with their children. White women were active participants at the January 6th insurrection and now, they’re on the front lines on the war against Black history taught in schools.
Justice is not part of their platform.
While it is important to understand the history that serves as the foundation for these groups, that information must be used as resistance to them. Sadly, so long as we live in the United States, Black, Brown, and Indigenous people will have to contend with bigotry and racism – including from white women. However, Black parents are the vanguard of Black student advocacy.
All over the country, parents are organizing to counter groups such as M4L; to fight for Black, Brown, and really, ALL students. Because the voices of these mothers aren’t the only voice, and certainly don’t represent all mothers.
What’s most important is understanding that this sort of activism isn’t anything new. Neither is Black and Brown mothers being ignored. None of that means that we stop fighting. But it simply means, we’ve defeated this nonsense before and we’ll do it again.