Meet Tanya Fields, the Black Single Mom Whose Hug With Melissa Harris-Perry Made Everyone Cry

The two women shared a powerful moment during a recent discussion about feminism, shame and parenting.

By Jamilah King Nov 11, 2013

Melissa Harry-Perry and bell hooks sat down for a mind-blowing conversation about black feminism at the New School last Friday. But while the two writers spent more than an hour talking about everything from "12 Years a Slave" to cable Renisha McBride, the most powerful moment came during the Q&A. Tanya Fields, a single black mother asked a question that read, in part, "How do you wake up every morning and… I consider myself a black feminist but some days, it’s just so hard to get out of the bed and face other black people."

Harris-Perry then went over and hugged Fields in a strikingly intiminate moment that found both women in tears. It’s a moment that my colleague Stacia L. Brown dissected over at her blog Beyond Baby Mamas before digging up more of Tanya Fields’ work as a community organizer.  (The exchange occurs about an hour and six seconds into the recorded talk.)

In addition to being a single mother who’s raising four children, Fields is also a powerhouse community organizer in the Bronx who was the keynote speaker at CUNY’s School of Professional Studies’ 2012 commencement. Here she is talking about the specific challenges facing single moms who juggle school and parenting.