When Keena Arias moved to Prosper, she needed to find a new hair stylist. She also needed a dermatologist. And new friends. And a community that would address social issues.
“The way I started Black Moms of Suburbia was kind of an accident,” Keena laughs. “But a great accident.” After joining several Facebook groups in her new town, she was unable to find the perfect intersection of proximity – how far away is said hair stylist? – and cultural appropriateness – can they style African American hair? Thus, Black Moms of Suburbia [BMOS] was born.
Keena began BMOS as a Facebook group. Black mothers across North Dallas were invited to discuss local recommendations, share resources and build relationships in a welcoming environment. Since 2019, nearly 3,000 women have joined the North Dallas Facebook group, and six more groups of Austin, Houston, Portland and Charlotte residents have blossomed. BMOS is now filed as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, hosts a robust events calendar and has launched an online store.
Although the community is open to all women, Keena and her board of directors are focused on providing specifically Black mothers with a safe space for their needs. Whether looking for opinions on the best school or room to grieve burdens for people of color, BMOS is the hub. The year 2020 dredged up dark remnants of racism – not new, but not always acknowledged. Black moms need connection with one another in suburban areas. BMOS fills a niche as a nonpartisan tribe of women wanting the best for their families while living in a community where they are often the minority.
Before the pandemic, the group hosted happy hours, play dates, book clubs, community outreach and food drives – any event that felt like a breath of fresh air for busy moms. Now that virtual events have become the new normal, the group uses its platform to host Facebook Live conversations and virtual brunches that encourage connectivity. Keena has also found more time to cast vision for BMOS’ future – one that includes more philanthropic efforts.
Such efforts include advocating for women running for local government positions; Christmas toy drives; and grants for kids needing Wi-Fi, laptops or virtual learning tutoring. The group also hosted a voter registration drive led by local teenagers and college students.
Keena is compelled to leave a legacy for her 15-year-old daughter, Kayla. “What keeps me motivated is my daughter,” she said. “It is really important for a young girl to see her mother creating something and living out her passion.”
Keena’s gift of creating extends beyond BMOS. Her career boasts 10 years in Information Technology (IT); she loves floral design, cooking and interior design. “I like to create beautiful things, like Black Moms of Suburbia, but I also try to incorporate that into every aspect of my life,” she said.
This community of Black women intends to expand across states and suburbs. The thousands of Black Moms of Suburbia will likely leave a legacy of sisterhood for their daughters.Black Moms of Suburbia >