A private group for New York City moms on Facebook is being called out over accusations of racism.
According to The New York Times, UES Mommas, was established in 2011, as one of the biggest Facebook groups for New York moms with about 40,000 members. At first, it was geared towards people living in the most affluent Upper East Side to talk about local schools and nannies. However, it soon started to grow to all five boroughs and the greater New York area. Topics like child care, breastfeeding, marital problems, and more were discussed in the group.
One Queens mom, Pearl Brady, 35, said she started seeing a shift in the UES Mommas Facebook group when the video of Amy Cooper went viral. Cooper called the police on Christian Cooper, a black birdwatcher who had asked that she place a leash on her dog in Central Park.
Then, racist comments started to take up posts on another thread surrounding the death of George Floyd. Brady said when Black women gave their stance on such topics, their comments would quickly disappear. She says when she notified the group, she saw her comments vanish as well.
“I commented on a few different posts, ‘the silencing of black women is not OK, the admin needs to apologize and stop,’” she said. Not too long afterward, she was kicked out of the group.
A number of Facebook groups for moms in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco have temporarily shut down after backlash from members over their handling of race discussions. These groups are struggling with how to make Black women and women of color feel welcome.
On May 30, after the repeated backlash against UES Mommas, Addy Spriggle, a 38-year-old resident on the Upper East Side, asked the group’s administrator Lindsey Plotnick Berger to consider adding a Black moderator. UES Mommas had three moderators at the time, which included Berger, another white mother, and a woman who identifies as Latina. Many Black mothers in the group believed Berger had censored their conversation, removing posts about police brutality and colorism.
Berger eventually asked Spriggle to message her privately, but when she did, Spriggle received a number of hostile messages from Berger. Spriggle was then kicked out of the group after Berger falsely claimed Spriggle had “threatened” and “harassed” her. Berger later apologized for the accusations, but the damage was done.
Mothers slammed Berger for her actions. “A black woman shouldn’t be falsely accused of harassment for assertively (not aggressively) saying they will follow up later on the issue of better representation in a large group. I think you owe her an apology,” one mom commented. Berger’s reaction to the criticism was deactivating the group.
The Facebook group was eventually resurrected by Thursday of last week, and it now had two new moderators, a Black woman and an Asian woman. However, any talk about racial issues, racism, or “controversial” topics like police brutality was discouraged. This frustrated group members even more and people started leaving the group in droves to join and form splinter groups.