Written By: Terri Ley
Black women occupy numerous spaces, including the child-free space. Dr. Angela L. Harris is the founder and visionary behind NoBibsBurpsBottles, a child-free platform specifically for Black women. Through this platform, Dr. Harris offers a safe space for Black women to encourage one another on their child-free journeys and to remind them that they are wonderfully made and definitely more than enough!
Dr. Harris was born and raised in New York. She attended Cheyney University in Pennsylvania. As an HBCU grad and a member of the Divine Nine, she is passionate about uplifting the Black community and keeping HBCUs around. After graduating from Cheyney, she went on to receive a M.S. in Counselor Education and a PhD in Clinical Psychology. She has over 25 years of experience working in higher education and currently serves as the Assistant Dean of Students at a small liberal college in North Carolina.
BGN got to sit with Dr. Harris over a Zoom call to discuss all things child-free and how to navigate life after making the decision.
How did you come to know you wanted to be child-free?
I knew I wasn’t and never really felt maternal. In my younger years, I was so driven with school and everything else so it wasn’t in the forefront of my mind. During my late 30s and early 40s I had conversations with my first African American female doctor about fertility. From there, everything made sense. After that, I found more women like me and more women who were comfortable defining themselves as “child-free.”
Why is it important for child-free Black women to be visible?
We can think about our ancestors not having a choice with their bodies. They had no autonomy over their own bodies. They were raped and forced to have children who would then be owned and sold. They were experimented on without consent. There was no choice then, but there is a choice today. We have to be able to let women know that there is a different choice.
It’s important because we need to share the untold stories, narratives, and lifestyles. For Black women, as we share our stories we dispel the bias and myths that Black women have five or six children with five or six “baby-daddies.” For women who are ambivalent, seeing me may help them solidify their own choice.
As a Black woman, what do you feel is a major obstacle to being and remaining child-free?
Overall, it’s the pressure from other people. In general, people want other people to have babies. The most pressure is concentrated between the ages of 25 and 35. The barrier is that if I am not solidified within myself and standing confident in my decision, I might be swayed by being unable to handle the pressure. You have to stay strong in your choice.
Other obstacles include fear of making the decision too early or fear of being alone. Those fears are valid. Nevertheless, whether child-free by choice or circumstance, you define you.
What led to you starting your platform, NoBibsBurpsBottles?
After finding more women like me who were child-free, I wanted to create a space where they would be comfortable defining themselves in whatever way they choose. That includes having a space for women who are child-less (by circumstance) but embrace the child-free lifestyle.
As a mental health professional, in what ways has your work with NoBibsBurpsBottles overlapped with that?
Having good mental health when you are child-free results in stability, confidence, happiness, and boldness. With being child-free, you aren’t exempt from normal emotions. While NoBibsBurpsBottles doesn’t offer counseling services, we do offer the space to acknowledge and validate those difficult moments. Some of our one-to-one sessions include how to deal with the pressures from your family, especially around the holidays. This is because a person’s mental health plays a part in their decisions. Through my consulting firm, Harris 316 Consulting Services, LLC, I am also able to help decrease the stigma with mental health in corporate spaces as well as within churches.
Historically, Black women are known for moving in silence and not always announcing their differences to the world. Why was it important for you to make known your decision regarding being child-free?
Talking about being child-free is not mandatory. There are many Black women throughout history who have been child-free without openly identifying that way. My platform is to provide a space that speaks to women like me. At the end of the day, you should be in the space that speaks to you and benefits you. There are some specific elements to being child-free or child-less that my platform doesn’t necessarily speak to, such as the desire for fertility treatments. Nevertheless, if my platform speaks to you, you are more than welcome to partake in the conversation.
What are some of your favorite things as a Black Girl Nerd?
I grew up loving to write poetry and read all sorts of literature. I also really love watching the History Channel and shows depicting forensic investigation. I have this unquenchable thirst for knowledge. A spark of curiosity can lead me to deep dive into the topic and read as much about it as possible.
We were so excited to talk with Dr. Harris about her journey as a child-free woman and how she uses her platform to encourage women in this space. On the NoBibsBurpsBottles website you can book a consultation with Dr. Harris, check out her blogs, and purchase merchandise. Between this business and Dr. Harris’s other business, Harris 316 Consulting, LLC, she is definitely doing the work to make a difference within the community.
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