It’s Wednesday, and a bunch of mothers from all around Portland are making wishes: for their Big Wish, a shot-in-the-dark wish, like a printer, a car repair, exercise equipment, or a Small Wish, like snacks for kids, flowers, good vibes. And they’re posting these wishes on the Facebook Page for Mxm Bloc as part of the weekly Wish Wednesday, while others in this 1,500-member group respond to grant whichever ones they can.
Wish Wednesday is just one of the many initiatives spearheaded by the group, which rose from the ashes of the short-lived protest group Wall of Moms. It’s run by an eight-woman collective— Jaime Cale, Rashelle Chase, Lenia Donell, AJ McCreary, LaQuisha Minnieweather, Rhiannon Patterson, Shawn Roberts, Kalera Stratton—who came together during the racial justice protests last year, with a mission to mobilize around food justice, equitable housing, education, reparations, health care, and support to the Black community.
“What we saw from Wall of Moms was this amazing mom energy,” says Chase. “One of the strengths was all these moms coming together with all of these skills, channeling them in the interests of the protest.” The nine founders of Mxm Bloc PDX wanted to keep that momentum and push for change, but with Black moms in charge.
The group’s first action was giving out essential supplies—diapers, soap, toothpaste—to anyone in need who showed up at movie nights organized by the BLM protest support group Snack Bloc last summer. Since then, they’ve organized to feed Portland Public Schools families during the September wildfires, when the district suspended food delivery–serving more than 500 families in the process—and been involved in community education and outreach around racial justice.
They also focus on education, a stated priority for a group that uses its Facebook page to provide information on everything from vaccines to local events, resources, and professional opportunities. “We still are really a learning group,” says McCreary.
The only thing holding them back, they say, is funding. “We would do 10 times the amount of things we can do now if we had the resources,” says Chase.
Much of the money for supplies or wish granting comes from grassroots direct funding through social media and word of mouth, though the group is looking for a fiscal partner to help underwrite expenses and take the group to the next level. “It would be awesome if somebody would just come and give Mxm Bloc a million dollars,” says McCreary.
Bottom line? Mxm Bloc is meeting community members where they are without requiring those it helps to jump hurdles to get their needs met. “Us taking care of us is so profound,” says Chase. “It feels different.”
Ultimately, says Cale, the focus is on helping Black mothers and their children. “For hundreds of years, Black women were taking care of everyone else and everyone else’s kids. We want to help them and their kids now.”