RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, CA — A collage of Rancho Santa Margarita MOMS Club lending their support to the Black Lives Matter movement sent shockwaves through the international organization this summer.
Following the death of George Floyd during his arrest in Minneapolis, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, RSM MOMS Club President Jill Coene organized the photo collage for mothers and kids to show their support.
Mothers and kids from her club chapter held signs declaring an anti-discrimination message:
"We Stand With All Moms And Pledge That Racial Discrimination Will Stop With Our Kids."
It was a natural thing to do, in Coene's opinion. To her, MOMS Club International is all about mothers helping mothers, the acronym reads: "Moms Offering Moms Support."
International MOMS Club, founded by Mary James, has over 20,000 members worldwide. Mothers within individual group chapters make friends and lean on each other when times are hard. They share parenting tips, knowledge, have playdates for their kids, and Moms Night Outs. They organize meal trains and send flowers to those who need them. They're just like millions of mothers across the globe, seeking someone who understands their lives.
Never in the history of MOMS Club has there been a time when mothers needed each other more than now, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
When their televisions filled with stories about George Floyd's death in Minneapolis, and the birth of the Black Lives Matter and anti-racism movement across the nation, Coene and her fellow club members did as mothers do: They answered questions their children had and vowed to help end racism.
The moment-in-time image was shared across the mothers' Facebook pages.
Coene went one step further, and shared it with the International MOMS Club to share on their social media pages. After first being told they would share it everywhere, she was notified that the idea was shot down for being "too political."
The organization spokesperson stated that the collage told Coene "(MOMS Club) members have been racists before now. The MOMS Club has never been a racist organization and never will be. To imply otherwise is not acceptable."
That response from the main office was unconscionable to Coene and to many across the globe.
A mass exodus from MOMS Club has begun. To date, 45 chapters of California's 124 MOMS Club International chapters have disbanded.
According to a report on HuffPost, 200 clubs across the country have "abandoned the mother ship." Now, over 3,000 mothers have joined together to discuss how to move forward, together.
For Coene and her fellow mothers at the Rancho Santa Margarita chapter, disbanding from MOMS Club International is difficult but the right thing to do.
"MOMS Club has been a huge part of our lives," she tells Patch. "My kids have attended playdates on a near weekly basis for the past four years."
According to Coene, her 8-year-old was "shocked" that the club would not post the collage picture, and couldn't understand why they reacted that way.
"When I told her we wouldn't be part of the MOMS Club organization she was sad, but understood why we don't want to associate with them anymore," Coene said. "She was happy when I told her we are going to work on a new group that is supportive to all."
The message has grown far beyond the original denial to post the collage picture.
Mothers across the country, aching for the support of the main group amid the Black Lives Matter movement, have shared their feelings. None more powerful than Tahira Goldson, a former MOMS Club member and Black mother from Bowie Maryland. Goldson is working with Coene and others in a new Facebook group to make legitimate changes going forward.
In an open letter to Mary James, founder of MOMS Club, the heart of Goldson as a woman and a mother, is laid open for all to read. She tells James to "keep her meal trains and her flowers" that MOMS Club is famous for.
In time of trouble, send mothers," she writes. (Read the full letter below).
"Tahira's letter to Mary James was extremely moving, and gave me insight on how this situation is affecting a Black mom, which is something that I will never understand completely," Coene told Patch. "As a white, privileged woman it's so important to listen and learn from moms of color. Tahira's letter was heartbreaking but also empowering and made me remember that when moms come together we can move mountains!"
Coene, Goldson and thousands of others are working to make real changes for the future of their club, and their kids.
"Everything that is happening with MOMS Club right now is very relevant to what's happening in the world," Coene tells Patch. "I have learned so much by listening to and collaborating with members across the US, especially the moms of color. It has made me realize that I can and must do better, and one way is by doing exactly what our original collage states - to end racism with our generation of children."