10,000 Infamous Mothers

This is a campaign to raise 10,000 books for 10,000 mothers across 10 cities.

Infamous Mothers Lifestyle
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Project Description




Welcome to 10,000—where the rewards are exciting and the mission is bold  

The Mission

10 cities x 1,000 books = 10,000 mothers inspired

The mission of Infamous Mothers is to create a national platform that taps into, cultivates and releases the power of women who mother from the margins of society. The founder/CEO of this social venture, Sagashus Levingston, is a PhD Candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the single of mother of six children. Frustrated that women like her are often invisible in the media and popular culture, she decided to create products, deliver services and build a social media platform intended to extend the conversation around feminism and black mothering to include more complex narratives.

Our goal with this campaign is to gift 10,000 copies of Infamous Mothers, our coffee table book, to 10,000 women across 10 U.S. cities. We will be reaching out to mothers in low-income housing, prisons, domestic abuse shelters, drug rehabilitation facilities, and YWCAs.  Along with the books, we will facilitate workshops and create an experience that recognizes, harnesses and deploys the power of those 10,000 mothers.

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“I remember the day of high school graduation being dressed in the all-white every female graduate was required to wear. In a long flowing white dress with a front that overlapped and formed a V-shape at my chest, I appeared regal, poised. I wore white, wedged open-toe heels. Some might even consider my long neck and legs sure signs of gracefulness—had I not been stooped down banging on the basement window of the guy I was involved with.  It was one of the most important days of my life, and there I was trying to pull him from his bed to convince him to go with me, watch me graduate, support me. So much depended on his being in the bleachers, cheering.  I banged furiously, desperately… ” 

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“I could see my innocence erode over time. That continual vulnerability and predatory thing, I know intimately. I KNOW how many times that walk home from school happens before you end up in the back seat of a guy’s car or before you end up at a hotel underaged. My experience as a young woman of color, I liken to the experiences of a young man of color who is walking to and from school every day pass gang members and drug dealing. There is a corrosive enticement to compromise, and over time, you find yourself weakening. Using a slave plantation metaphor, we would call it “the moment that you break.” You hear it in the conversation of pimps today, the idea of breaking a b**tch or breaking a woman.”

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 The Problem

In our world today, mothers who live on the margins of society are often portrayed and imagined as problems to be solved instead of as potential to be cultivated. In our culture, blaming teen mothers for poverty is common. Fear of the “crack mother” and her “deviant babies” have become normal. Single mothers and baby mamas have become living “proof of a decline in American values.” These views have been expressed in political speeches, news articles, academic research, etc. More times than not, the narratives are oversimplified and incomplete.

As a result, a culture of fear, anxiety and policing has been created around urban black mothering, in particular; it has become a staple in American culture and widely accepted abroad. To add insult to injury, even in feminist spaces that are created to acknowledge, celebrate and leverage the power of all women, the literature, policies, and the activism is often scarce, or worse, silent, about the complexity and potential of these women. Outside of adding to more literature about the plight of black families, they often fail to explore these women’s stories in a way that balances their triumphs with their challenges. They fail to include the part of the story about how many of these women went from being teen moms to entrepreneurs or single moms to PhD Candidates.  This failure hurts hurts the mothers and leaves society ignorant.

The Solution

To address this, we created Infamous Mothers, a coffee table book that features 20 women who mother from the margins of our society: teen moms, baby mamas, single mothers, moms who sex worked or abused drugs, etc. For our project, the mothers were active participants in the writing and editing of told their own stories. They controlled the narratives. They also controlled their visual stories. Choosing their own poses, outfits, artifacts (to be included in their photos) they were in command of their photo shoots.

The outcome? A powerful coffee table book filled with stunning photography and moving stories.

Last year, through Kickstarter, 263 people came together and help us complete this project. People in the U.S. and beyond helped us raise $25,000. It covered the cost of the photo shoot, interviews, makeup artist, video production/campaign marketing. We were able to complete the Infamous Mothers prototype. The book is now completed. And we are ready to print it.

This inaugural print run has to be as much about getting complimentary copies into the hands of thousands of mothers who may not be able to afford them as it is about getting books to thousands of people who can. With this understanding, we have launched this campaign to print books and provide programming for thousands of women who would otherwise not be able to have this tool/experience because of financial barriers. In the same way we created an “urban Cinderella” experience for the 20 women in our book that still inspires them today, we want to tap into, harness and unleash the power of thousands of women who are in situations that may make them feel unattractive, unworthy, and  unheard. We need your help to make this possible.


Your Support Makes an Impact

10,000 books @ $25 =$250,000 raised

Helping us raise 10,000 books will do the following extraordinary things:

  • inspire hope in thousands of mothers
  • invite women to empowering workshops, personal/professional development coaching experiences often reserved for women NOT like them
  • remove the barrier of cost
  • place marginalized mothers at the center of national conversations about women’s issues
  • initiate our first print run
  • give thousands a preview of our upcoming conference the Talk Back (February 2018)

Stay Connected and Spread the Word!

Raising 10,000 books for 10,000 women across 10 cities is a bold and awesome goal. To accomplish it, we need an army of beautiful people to help make this possible. We need YOU!

Ways You Can help

  • become an organizational partner by gifting 100 books
  • unite with friends and family to organize four events in your city in places like hair salons, churches, daycares, community centers and become a stop on our pop up mini-tour in August 2017
  • become a super supporter by personally gifting 50 books
  • become a campaign ambassador by committing to find 25 people to gift books, and encouraging each one of them to find one more person to gift a book
  • like and follow us on Facebook and Twitter @infamousmothers.
  • share this campaign with your social media networks
  • help us get the word out to your city’s press and influencers. Click here for our  media kit

Infamous Mothers Progress to Date

This print run is one more powerful step in a beautiful  process to complete and distribute this work. Here’s what we have accomplished to date:

  • raised $25,617 with 253 backers on Kickstarter
  • contracted with Little Creek Press, selected editor, completed prototype, scheduled release date (Oct 2017)
  • developed and piloted workshop materials (which align with the book) with
    two local non-profits (this was the kickoff to Phase 2 of our work)
  • started production of the Infamous Mothers online learning platform
  • developed organizational level membership models
  • presented at the YWCA Racial Justice Summit, the annual Trauma Summit, the
    Social Good Summit, University of Minnesota-Rochester, and TEDx Madison
  • honored with the UW Outstanding Women of Color award and recognized by
    Brava Magazine as a Woman to Watch, including a cover photo
  • interviewed by NBC Channel 15, WORT, Cap Times, Madison365, Madison
    Magazine, Brava Magazine, Isthmus, and Kolumn Magazine
  • mentioned as a trending topic in Essence Magazine (August 2017)

Infamous Mothers in the Press

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Wisconsin Public Radio

BRAVA Magazine

Cap Times


WORT Radio

Madison Magazine

To learn more about Infamous Mothers as a social venture, please visit our website at www.infamousmothers.com.