Kamala Harris is not here to be the mammy Drew Barrymore wants her to be

OPINION: In another instance of white people asking Black women to save America, Barrymore asked the vice president to be “momala” to the U.S., and I need y’all to stop this right now.

(Screenshot from "The Drew Barrymore Show" via YouTube)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Imagine me standing on top of a soapbox and yelling this at the top of my lungs through a bullhorn in the middle of Times Square:

Stop asking Black women to save America. 

This is a thing that shouldn’t have to be said at all, but it keeps coming back up because of the mammification (did I make that word up or did someone else do it?) of Black women — that thing (some) white people do when they try to turn Black women into the fixers of everything — and not fixers in the Olivia Pope getting paid millions of dollars to make things go away sense, but fixers in the sense of the Black mammies on plantations and in Jim Crow households who held white people’s hands during “trying” times for them, nursed their children, cooked, cleaned and fed the entire household, and then made everything else better just by being present as a Black woman.

There are some white people who recognize our magic even if they don’t want to openly acknowledge it, and even as they do everything in their power to demean and diminish us, they want all the parts of us that they don’t have for themselves – including our spirits. 

The most recent example of a white person asking a Black woman to save America came in the form of Drew Barrymore on a recent episode of her talk show.


Vice President Kamala Harris was a guest Monday on “The Drew Barrymore” show, and she appeared in front of an audience comprised of all women.

Among other things, they discussed Harris’ marriage to second gentleman Doug Emhoff and her relationship with his two children, Cole and Ella. 

Harris told Barrymore that in their household, they don’t use the word “step,” and instead, the children call the VP “Momala.” She talked about how she and the children’s mother, Kerstin, are friends and have a lot of respect for each other, and that made her relationship with the children easier. 

It was actually a really great moment discussing blended families. 

Leave it to Drew Barrymore to mess up that beautiful moment. 

“I keep thinking in my head that we all need a mom,” Barrymore said. 

“I’ve been thinking that we really all need a tremendous hug in the world right now, but in our country, we need you to be Momala of the country.”

Girl, what? 

She went on to add, “We need a great protector.”

Baby, Black women are not going to save you, Josie Grossie!

Listen. I’ve been rooting for Drew Barrymore my whole life. 

I’m old enough to remember her addiction problems and how her career died for a while only to be revived when she got older and became this kickass actress who happened to star in one of my favorite movies and probably the best retelling of “Cinderella” ever, “Ever After.”

(Not finna argue with y’all about Cinderella movies, by the way, so save it.)

Drew messed up bigly when she announced her talk show would resume production in the midst of the writers’ strike, and I didn’t think she could make things worse, but then this moment with Kamala Harris happened.

Let me just state this plainly for Drew and any other white person who will even consider asking a Black woman to put on a cape and become the savior of America.

As long as the maternal mortality rates for Black women in America are higher than they are for anyone else and continue to be in a state of emergency, don’t ask Black women to do nothing. 

As long as Black mothers continue to mourn the disproportionate extrajudicial killing of their children by police, don’t ask Black women to do nothing. 

As long as Black women have to continue to fight to legislate for the right to wear their hair exactly as it grows out of their scalp, don’t ask Black women to do nothing. 

As long as Black women have to fight to make a decent wage in comparison to white people and specifically white men, don’t ask Black women to do nothing. 

As long as Black women are disparaged in the media unabated and unedited, don’t ask Black women to do nothing. 

Don’t ask Black women to do nothing until you recognize that Black women deserve the same respect and uplifting that is repeatedly shown to white women. 

We deserve the same favor. We deserve the same care. We deserve the same grace. 

We definitely don’t deserve to be treated as second-class citizens while also being expected to carry the weight of everyone else’s burdens. 

The “strong Black woman” trope is over and done. It’s tired. Let it go, and let us be us without you leaning on us to be modern-day mammies from whose teats you will suck until you bleed us dry, and then dispose of us when you have no more “use” for us. 

Black women are not going to save you.

We are too busy trying to save ourselves. 


Monique Judge is a storyteller, content creator and writer living in Los Angeles. She is a word nerd who is a fan of the Oxford comma, spends way too much time on Twitter, and has more graphic t-shirts than you. Follow her on Twitter @thejournalista or check her out at moniquejudge.com.