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Happy Mother's Day: 12 Black TV Mamas We Wish Raised Us

Source: ABC/FX/FOX / Courtesy of ABC, FX and Fox.


This Mother’s Day, as we celebrate the matriarchs in our family who have raised us, loved us and nurtured us into adulthood in real-life, we wanted to pay a little homage to the television mothers as well.

While we would never trade in the real thing for the fictional ones, there are still many qualities women such as Black-ish’s Rainbow Johnson, Pose’s Blanca and Empire’s Cookie possess that we could have used to guide us in our early years. Then, of course, there are the mamas of the past such as Claire Huxtable, Aunt Viv and Harriette Winslow who taught us so much along the way too.

So to honor that, here are 12 Black mamas from the small screen that we wish would have raised us too (Sorry Mama!):

Happy Mother’s Day: 12 Black TV Mamas We Wish Raised Us  was originally published on

1. Tasha Mack: “The Game”

Tasha Mack (Wendy Racquel Robinson) was the single mama with talent in her uterus. She single-handedly helped Malik build his career, and she wasn’t going to let any man or woman stop that empire.

2. Rainbow Johnson: “Black-ish”

Tracee Ellis Ross as Black-ish’s matriarch, Rainbow, is the kind of woman that inspires to live out your fullest career goals (she is a doctor), is fair and pragmatic, but also knows how to have fun. That, and she has all the best hair products!

3. Dee Mitchell: “Moesha”

Dee, aka Sheryl Lee Ralph, is still our mama in our heads. She was always the cool headed mother and wife of reason, but she could definitely lay the law down when she needed too.

4. Lisa Landry: “Sister, Sister”

Lisa (played by Jackee Harry) was the more sporadic and fun one of the parent pair–and the girls (Tia & Tamera) were better for it. Could you imagine being stuck with your nerdy, stuffy dad all day?

5. Pose’s: Blanca

As Kellee Terrell wrote for the A.V. Club, “While Black motherhood is usually assigned solely to cisgender women, the hit drama Pose has redefined it by showing the reality of Black trans women in the ballroom scene who take on this role every day, and have been doing so for decades. These mothers may not have given birth to their “children,” but they are the bedrock of the Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ community—raising, housing, and feeding their chosen family.” Trust, Blanca (Mj Rodriguez) is the queen mother of them all. 

6. Janet Kyle “My Wife And Kids”

Janet Kyle "My Wife And Kids" Source:Getty

Janet Kyle (Tisha Campbell Martin) was probably known for her meltdowns more than anything, but her motherly love made up for the bouts of crazy.

7. Nikki Parker: “The Parkers”

This mama, perfectly played by Mo’Nique, gave us all the life with her confidence and witty clap backs.

8. Cookie Lyons: “Empire

From the flashy and fashionable clothes (what daughter wouldn’t want to play in that closet?) to her ability to read anyone who tries it, Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) is a mother who would do anything to protect her children, even it means breaking the law. 

9. Claire Huxtable: “The Cosby Show”

What can be said about Claire Huxtable that hasn’t been said before? Brilliantly played by Phylicia Rashad, the mother of five AND lawyer had the ability to read you for filth without raising her voice. She was the voice of reason, the nurturer and not the one. 

10. Vivian Banks: “Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air”

Be clear: No disrespect to the amazing Daphne Maxwell Reid, but the only Aunt Viv we acknowledge is the one played by Janet Hubert. All that melanin, beauty, and poise, not to mention, she made we knew that she was more than a housewife–she had a Ph.D. and could dance her tail off. 

11. Harriette Winslow: “Family Matters”

Harriette Baines Winslow (Jo Marie Payton) was the steady voice of reason when Carl was losing his sh*t. Everybody needs some Mama Winslow in their life, and one that stands up for herself. That’s one of the biggest lessons you can teach your kids. 

12. Maya Lewis” “Scandal”

Okay, maybe we wouldn’t want to be raised by this sultry, evil, seductress (played by Khandi Alexander), but if Olivia turned out kick-ass (albeit, a little insane), maybe she didn’t do so badly after all. That, and sis, could give one hell of a monologue.