When Tasha Williams was a correctional officer in Baltimore, Maryland, she got very familiar with the same faces. She recalls “seeing the same young men in and out of prison, in and out of prison, in and out of prison.” That is, she says, until they “would eventually die in the street like dogs.” She was burdened by the fate that so many of her fellow African-Americans seemed to face.
Eventually, Williams left her post to become an EMT in an effort to flip the reality she became all too familiar with at the prison. “When I became a medic for the county, I was trying to save the lives of these children,” she recalls. But there was a new problem that emerged: “All I could see were my own children.”
That’s when Williams had the biggest revelation of her life: “We had to step in to do something to save our children,” she remembers thinking.
Williams, along with her longtime friend and fellow mother Kandis Askins, founded MOBSTER (which stands for Mothers of Black Sons Teaching, Empowering, and Reclaiming), a Facebook support group and non-profit organization dedicated to mothers raising black sons.
MOBSTER’s mission is to teach, empower, reclaim, and restore the lives of black youth by instilling core values that will enable them to become strong, successful, well-rounded, productive members of society. They do this through encouragement, education, and empowerment projects with community partners.
“We want peace to be in our communities,” Askins says about MOBSTER’s purpose. “We want to be able to walk down the street, we want to let our kids out the house and have peace of mind knowing that they’re going to come back home safely.”
“Resources are extremely, extremely important,” Williams says. “Some mothers don’t know where to go for help. As black mothers, we internalize a lot of things and we’re afraid to ask for help because we’re always supposed to be so strong. We have to be strong for everybody; we’re not supposed to break.”
This is the core of MOBSTER’s purpose: empower mothers with black sons who can then in turn empower their children.
“If all you see is drugs and chaos and fighting, you tend to gravitate towards that, but that’s because nobody ever told them that they’re worth more than what they seeing,” explains Williams.
Their solution? Give African-American mothers resources that will help them get their life to a place where they have more time to dedicate to their kids and show them they can accomplish more than drugs and chaos and fighting.
MOBSTER offers classes on financial literacy and responsibility, resume writing, interview skills, and even tutoring for kids.
“The knowledge of how to be productive in the community starts at home,” Askins says. “We want to be a source of light for mothers who want their children to be productive in their community, to not be another statistic, and to be able to be mentors and mediators to their friends, not just followers.”
With the resources that are already out there, in addition to the work of MOBSTER, both women agree: “The resources are there and the healing is there,” Askins says.
The women of MOBSTER are urging community members to support their cause. They are asking for everyone to help a mother who is raising a black son by pre-ordering a copy of a new book, “#REALtalk: The Racial Divide Change Matters—What’s Going On, Hear Our Hearts Cry: Inspiration, Stories, and Strategies for Mothers Raising Black Sons.”
“The resources are out there, you need to use them,” Williams says even more emphatically. “If you can spend money on tennis shoes, if you can spend money on your weave, if you can spend money to go see Beyoncé, then you can spend $20 on a book that will help your family and your children to be productive members of society.”
Visit www.tinyurl.com/MobsterRH to learn more about a new book for mothers raising black sons.
MOBSTER’s mission is to teach, empower, reclaim and restore the lives of black youth by instilling core values that will enable them to become strong, successful, well-rounded and productive members of society. They do this through encouragement, education and empowerment projects with community partners.
Company Name: MOBSTER
Contact Person: Tasha Williams