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Big Momma - the intersectionality of racism and sexism in my personal life

allyship intersectionality naming cars objectification racism sexism May 31, 2022

Often, I hear people say something like 'What can I do, I am just an ordinary person, my actions won't change the world.'

I hear you, and I disagree. Cause mindsets change the world.

Let me tell you a story to explain. It's a personal one.

I was reminiscing the other day and thought of my old silver station wagon, Big Momma. The one in the picture. We got her when my daughter was about 5. She was a wonderful car, taking us on many cross-country adventures with so much room that we each had our own 'section'. We could overpack to our hearts content. We could buy anything and still have room for our comfort on the way home. We LOVED Big Momma.

Guess what? I am white, from the North and we don't call our Grandmother's Big Momma. Some of my Black friends did. And I saw it in movies and heard it in comedy sketches.

So why would I have named my car Big Momma? Because of bias. As in, she got us there every time, she was dependable, she wasn't sexy, but she had more than enough for everyone who needed her, and she was comfortable.

Are you familiar with the Mammy stereotype? That is literally what I named my dependable, wonderful car after.

It gets even better.

I got a new car about 3 years ago. She is a silver, shiny, cute Toyota Corolla. Everything Big Mama was, except big.

My new car's name - Well, it's Stella. As in 'How Stella Got Her Groove Back', Stella.

Why? Because implicit bias and how it plays out in our personal lives.

Here I am, someone who cares DEEPLY about removing my bias and changing the world, and yet, I name my cars after Black women & stereotypes of them.


Maybe you don't name your cars, and maybe if you do, you have not objectified any kind of person while doing that. But there are spaces in each of our lives where something has slipped in that we are not aware of. Something that supports a bias we don't even know we have.

This is our opportunity - when we wonder what we can each really do.... we change ourselves. We learn about bias, and we look inside and become aware. And then we make simple changes. Like how we name our cars.

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