How ‘Good Moms, Bad Choices’ Is Bringing Black Motherhood to the Mainstream

good-moms-bad-choices - Credit: Leef Parks
good-moms-bad-choices - Credit: Leef Parks

It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon in New York City’s Meatpacking district and Jamilah Mapp and Erica Dickerson are having brunch on the rooftop of the SoHo Hotel. It’s the day after their New York live show, and two California moms have spent much of September recording and traveling for their tour “Good Moms, Gone Wild.” It’s an extension of their weekly Wednesday podcast Good Moms, Bad Choices, a sex and cannabis positive podcast, where Mapp and Dickerson discuss every topic from what it means to be an ethical slut to astrology where Dickerson and Mapp — with the help of an astrologer — learn their daughter’s charts to better connect and understand their children.

“I always say, I know as much as I know. I’ve only been a mom for seven years, I’m not a professional mother,” says Dickerson.

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The pair, who now have over 150,000 listeners, are redefining what motherhood looks like by simply living their mistake-prone lives and talking about it. What started out as a candid expression from two women from California is now naturally forming into a community.

When Mapp and Dickerson first started Good Moms back in March 2018, they were creating a lane for themselves due to lack of representation. “Podcasting was new and was very much directed towards white people,” says Dickerson. The pair wanted to create something that hadn’t been done before, a sanctuary for themselves and others, where being a single Black mother wasn’t a stigma but rather a rich and honorable experience. “Many Black women are ashamed of being single moms,” Dickerson continues. “I think our brand is really about the celebration of that. It’s not painting single motherhood as this dire sad thing. It’s more so about empowering each other and not judging one another.”

When looking at Mapp’s and Dickerson’s interactions with one another on the live stage you would think they were lifelong friends, but if you ask them, the “two stranger bitches,” who became “platonic wives” began their friendship on the microphone. The two moms first met through friends and admitted to stalking one another on social media due to their similarities of being moms, with kids the same age. So after getting their six-month old babies together for a playdate—really a playdate for the two women — followed by a birthday party to celebrate Mapp’s toddler, where Mapp was sporting a sheer skirt with a thong bikini underneath, Dickerson confronted Mapp in a club bathroom to propose co-hosting a podcast with her; the perfect potion to a now sisterhood.

“We have the space and the safety to discuss how we’re truly feeling, such as ‘I’m sad’ or ‘Today, this is hard’” Mapp says over cocktails. “I realized, a lot of moms don’t have that and the moms who have friends, some of those friends make you feel judged and shamed. Unfortunately, we have grown up in a society that holds mothers to a different standard than they hold fathers, so much so, women uphold the bullshit not realizing that we’re doing it.”

good moms bad choices podcast
“Many Black women are ashamed of being single moms,” says Dickerson, right. “I think our brand is really about the celebration of that. It’s not painting single motherhood as this dire sad thing. It’s more so about empowering each other and not judging one another.”

Even off the stage, the two effortlessly complement one another. Erica, a double Scorpio (sun and rising) — the “goth” out of the zodiac signs — is wearing shades and is dressed in all black, down to her boot stilettos. Mapp sits in direct sunlight, which is on brand for her Leo rising, sporting cheetah print stilettos, a mini skirt and a printed button up top with no bra—a classic trademark for her style and an actual alignment to the qualities of her zodiac sun sign, Cancer, which is said to rule the mother and breasts. “Astrology is definitely something me and Milah are into,” says Dickerson. “We are from L.A., so people are always like ‘that’s some L.A. shit’ and I’m like, no. It’s some world shit. It’s helped guide us.”

Sitting with them, one cannot help but notice the flair and confidence in which they carry themselves, something they each fought tooth and nail to get and maintain. The podcast was created out of a need for Black mothers to be  seen and put in the forefront. Even if there were mommy groups, the majority of the spaces were white and the conversations around mothering primarily centered the children, while ignoring the needs and desires of the mother.

“When I was looking up these spaces in 2018, there literally was nothing about Black single motherhood,” Dickerson chimes in. “There was not one podcast I could find, and I was like, that’s so odd.”

What makes Good Moms Bad Choices stand out is that although they do talk about the beauty and plights of motherhood, it’s largely about breaking out of the stereotypical and societal notions of motherhood and reclaiming the core of who you are and your desires.

“Motherhood is associated as if it’s not self-sacrificial and you don’t love doing it, then you’re not doing a good job and something is wrong with you,” says Mapp. “It has all of these women questioning themselves, like ‘am I a terrible fucking human?” Dickerson nods in agreement. “Motherhood is universal, but I know for sure, Black women, especially single Black women, are held to a different standard,” she adds. “The narrative is often painted as this desperation. Navigating in my spaces with my daughter, when I come around, married moms are like “Oh, my God, you’re a single mom? And I’m like, ‘Bitch, I’m good. I get to drop my baby off. You live with a man in your house, and you don’t get to go outside’,”  Dickerson concludes.

Those who love the Good Moms describe them in adjectives like “refreshing”,” authentic”, “informative”, “funny” and “sexy”. Some listeners, like Beyanka Knox, a mom from Colorado, consider the hosts their “best friends”, but that’s because fans like Knox have audibly witnessed a kinship form between the two and their children; a desire that many mothers, especially Black mothers, long for.

“I think a large part of their audience are mothers but take me for an example, I’m not a mom but I love their show,” says Chelsea Edwards, a fan of the podcast who attended the Atlanta and New York live viewings. “Listening to them is like talking to your friends. Not only do they talk about sex but they talk about healing and manifestations. I also love the fact that they do kink and BDSM because it is taboo in the Black community. To be a part of that community and to be a mother is frowned upon because when we think about anything involving sex or sex work and women, society wants to shun them and say ‘that’s not what a mother should be,” concludes Edwards.

The bond Dickerson and Mapp have formed is now extended to their audience. “Having her friendship is a game changer,” Mapp says of Dickerson.

“I don’t know what I would do without her. This space has really given us the security to validate each other’s decisions, like ‘Oh, you want to go on vacation for a week? I got you, I’ll take your child.’”

As the pair supports one another through what they say is “essentially co-parenting,” Their podcast has also laid the foundation for their listeners to support one another by way of the instant messaging app Discord, where they can give advice, set up meet and greets ups, or simply share personal nudes to spread body positivity and build confidence.

“As women, the moment we give birth, we’re supposed to just know what’s right [and have] that maternal instinct,” says Dickerson. “Men are not held to the same standard; it’s just about protecting and providing but now we are living in a day where women are not only nurturing the family but doing a lot of the providing too.” 

This coming February, the podcast will host their second retreat, where the women will take 52 of their fans on a spiritual journey in the jungles of Costa Rica. They are then launching their book A Good Mom’s Guide to Bad Choices on Mother’s Day, which is part memoir of their lives but also a prescriptive guide for mom’s navigating both motherhood and womanhood. They also have a marijuana line, Mama’s Flowers, that is currently in the works in California, and will be opening up their podcast studio in December called Good Good Media.

“I see a lot of myself in them,” says Damon Dash, co-founder of Roc-A-Fella who is friends with Dickerson and Mapp and has made guest appearances on the show. “They’re unapologetic in their business. They know how to make a brand and they understand the different verticals that come with it. They’re intelligent and articulate, they’re a triple threat. A lot of times people present themselves as something they are not to close the deal. They are going to close the deal and you’re going to have to sign on and you’re going to love it or change the fucking channel.”

Even in their liberation and growth, Dickerson and Mapp still question whether or not their choices are “bad.” In a recent Instagram post, Dickerson was transparent about the guilt she felt coming off of tour and home to her daughter who had missed her and began acting out as a way to express her frustration. “I was crying in the carpool line at her school, asking for advice on how to reconnect with her. Someone recommended mommy and me date nights in our community Discord,” Dickerson wrote.

“Building this business with Jamilah there’s been a lot of mom guilt, although the whole brand is about motherhood and removing the shame,” says Dickerson. “I’m still constantly growing and figuring out how to balance everything.”  And yet,  they push through. “It helps to have a best friend and business partner who’s literally at the same stage as you and you’re unfolding together,” adds Mapp.

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