Commentary: Social media helps mother find missing father of her children

Candice Benbow

Commentary: Social media helps mother find missing father of her children
May 30
08:42 2019

By Candice Benbow

On Friday, May 24, I received repeated calls from a number I didn’t recognize. Assuming it to be a robo call or creditor, I had no desire to argue with Sallie Mae about my student loan payment going into Memorial Day Weekend. When the calls stopped, I received a text.

“Anthony, you need to give me a call. I had this talk with you and told you that I wanted you to get the kids this weekend. So stop hanging up my phone call and call me back so you can get them this weekend.”

Several things became clear: this wasn’t Sallie Mae and Anthony had some explaining to do. As I continued texting with this mother, I learned that she was expecting her children’s father, Anthony, to pick them up so she could enjoy her birthday weekend. Anthony had given her my telephone number as his own and, for a while, she believed that I was Anthony’s girlfriend, keeping him from his responsibilities. Once she believed me, we both sprang into action to find Anthony so she could have her birthday weekend.

Across my social media platforms, I shared our conversation and told everyone I was looking for “Anthony from Winston-Salem.” The text exchange between this mother and myself made for many laughs across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. While I knew Anthony’s last name, I never publicly shared it. People began tagging every Anthony from Winston-Salem they knew in the post, verifying if it was him. Mothers, with sons named Anthony, messaged me to ensure that it wasn’t their baby who was being trifling. Folks were convinced Anthony was on his way to Myrtle Beach and he’d resurface some time Tuesday. While we hated that this mother wouldn’t get her birthday weekend, we’d seen this particular act before.

But all of the laughing ceased when we learned the truth. Anthony had been arrested. Though he’d given his children’s mother the wrong number, he was in bigger trouble. Because of his arrest, her birthday plans became an impossibility. I wanted to do something for her to ensure she still had a beautiful birthday weekend. I went back to my social media accounts and asked if others wanted to join me. The response was overwhelming. We raised a staggering $3,250. In addition to the money, Ta’Nisha Monique Cupcakes donated a dozen cupcakes and PIPA donated free summer camp days. She and her children were also offered tickets to a performance at this year’s National Black Theater Festival and a musical currently in production at the NC School of the Arts.

The response went viral and was celebrated by media outlets as an unexpected turn of events. But we know what it really was – the true definition of community. We have always taken care of each other and shared one another’s burdens. That’s what I saw growing up in Winston-Salem and that’s what I saw Winston-Salem do again this past Friday.

And it made me proud.

Candice Marie Benbow is an independent journalist and theologian who writes about black women’s faith, culture and healing practices. She is a frequent contributor to ESSENCE, Glamour, MadameNoire and other outlets specific to women’s interests. Follow her @CandiceBenbow.

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