Social Activism: A New Hallmark of Mother’s Day?

I haven’t written here for a while. I’ve wanted to, but I’ve been writing off and on in other places. I started blogging at the Huffington Post, for instance, and am still trying to get into a good writing rhythm on that blog. But I want to post some thoughts here today that I wanted to post on or before Mother’s Day, but did not have the opportunity to do so.

What I wanted to write about this weekend were the public service announcements that came across my screen — each connected to Mother’s Day.

One public service announcement featured Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, urging everyone to contact their governors to push for a reexamination of the “stand your ground” type laws that exist in states across the country.  In the PSA, Ms. Fulton urges everyone to help put an end to senseless violence, which has affected 30,000 mothers who have lost their children this year alone. (See the PSA at

Another was Christy Turlington’s “NO Mother’s Day” campaign to help raise awareness of the thousands of women who die each year from complications during childbirth. (See the PSA at

I also became aware of birthmother’s day which is celebrated the day before Mother’s Day, and Single Mother’s Day in South Korea. This is a day of celebration created by TRACK (Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea) that is celebrated to challenge South Korea’s annual Adoption Day and to raise awareness of the need to support single mothers who want to raise their children in that country.

All of these efforts use Mother’s Day as a platform for attempting to raise awareness and to call for active engagement in social justice causes.

I know that Mother’s Day has come and gone this year, but I wanted to point out that, despite how you feel about these and other efforts, what is interesting about them is that they are asking us to be intentional about not only what and how we celebrate. They are also calling us to think about how might extend our notion of celebration to consider how we might use our privileges — in this case, perhaps what allows us to celebrate in the first place — to aid others.

Writing about this reminded me also of a birthday invitation site some of my friends introduced me to: There, families can send evites out for birthday parties. Instead of gifts, guests make a contribution on-line. Half of the contributions are sent to the child; the other half are sent to a non-profit of your choice. Such a site really extends the notion of what it means for an individual to be celebrated — in this case, on his or her birthday. What a wonderful way to extend a celebration by also thinking of others.

I hope everyone had a fantastic mother’s day — whether you were celebrated, celebrating others, refrained from celebrating, or had the good fortune to reflect on the wonderful mothering figures in your world.

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