Black Motherhood Isn’t Ghetto
Ever since I was a little girl, I have been given the impression that there is something wrong with being Black and a mother.
It was an idea that was so pervasive that I started to believe it. I started to observe the depictions of Black mothers in the media, portraying them as struggling, bitter, overwhelmed women, who resented the fathers of their children for deserting and/or cheating on them.
It made me feel like Black motherhood was shameful.
Because Black motherhood is given so many negative connotations, Black women try to dissociate themselves from motherhood.
Young Black women get on Facebook and proclaim:
“I’m twenty-two with no kids.”
They state this proudly as if it equals obtaining a degree or building an incredible career. They realize how society sees Black mothers and want to identify themselves as being above the rest. They don’t want to be seen as the irresponsible breeders that have nothing to offer the world but Black babies.
Black motherhood is pitied, and has become the most prevalent story for Black athletes. You know, these tear jerking stories that start off like:
“My mom worked two jobs so me and my siblings could eat.”
“I saw my mother cry when she couldn’t buy us…”
Fill in the blank.
Even when a Black mother is married and living well she is looked down upon. When people see her pushing a stroller with her children trailing behind her, they stereotype her as being a project hoodrat with three baby daddies. It rarely occurs to them that a Black woman may be living a stable and blissful life with her children. Because we often associate Black motherhood with being low class.
Plus, Black women not only have to prove that they are not a ghetto nightmare to White America, but to Black men as well.
Black men fear coming up and introducing themselves, only to be disappointed to find out a woman has children. Many Black men look at dating a Black woman with children as a loss. They treat her as if she has committed some ungodly sin that she can’t be forgiven for. They don’t see their own mothers in her eyes. They forget that it took Black women’s sacrifices to get them where they are today.
Instead, they breathe a sigh of relief when a woman whom they are interested in is not a mother. It’s as if angel bells ring in their ears and the light of heaven shines upon her. They bask in the glory that she is not a baby’s momma because they associate a Black woman giving birth with her sexuality. Therefore, a woman without children is considered chaste. This is the type of girl you take home to your mother — not Shanika with her son, Tayshaun.
So now some Black mothers looking for dates carry the blessing of giving life like a scarlet letter.
Under these circumstances I can’t help but have a complex about having children when I know that the men who take an interest in me wait to hear my child status with the same level of anxiousness as my body count.
I cannot deny that I am unconsciously seeking approval when I say:
“I don’t have any children.”
As a person without children, I won’t have to deal with the scorned result of love gone awry or selling a portion of my EBT card. Even if I were rich, these things would still be assumed about me. See, this is not my opinion, but rather America’s constant stereotyping of Black motherhood.
So now at twenty-five years of age I stay in the childless safe zone, as I reprogram my mind to embrace the truth that Black motherhood and motherhood in general often involves struggle and sacrifice, but it also nurtures the seeds of success.
In fact, Black motherhood may not be a struggle at all. So I look forward to the day when I won’t thank God that I’m free of responsibility when I see a worn out mother coming home from work dragging her feet to the kitchen to make dinner. When I won’t think of what I’m saving myself from by not overwhelming myself with such incredible things as feeding and clothing children. Hopefully, one day I’ll take on these tasks with stride and pride. Hopefully, I’ll start to view motherhood as an opportunity to learn and challenge myself.
They say pressure makes diamonds. Black motherhood brings life.