Stigmatization of Black Motherhood

Black Women Breaking Borders

Credit: Google Images

African American women have always been considered inferior when compared to White women. Minority women are stigmatized because of their lifestyle, a lifestyle that has been heavily impacted due to race, class, and gender. Many can come to agreement, that society values women for being able to reproduce and raise children that will work for the best interest of the nation. However, African American women have not been valued for their motherhood, but instead have been given, the controlling images of the mammy, the matriarch, and the welfare mother. African American motherhood has been doubted due to intersectionality. These doubts have been created by the hegemonic White society that still has the mentality of, distinguishing us from them. While reading Patricia Hill Collins’s, “Black Women and Motherhood”, I realized that Black mothers, have had to emasculate their sons and defeminize their daughters in order to insure the survival of their children. While White hegemonic society views this as raising deviant children, Black mothers feel entitle to this because of the border that has been created between races. I refer to Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands, because the border she described, causes Gringos to believe Chicanos, Indians, or Blacks as aliens. A border does not only divide Chicanos from Whites, but it divides any race that White hegemonic society views as inferior. In this article I intend to analyze how the bordeland Anzaldua depicts, creates oppression due to intersectionality that eventually leads to the stigmatization of Black motherhood as bad parenting.

Life on the Other Side

Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands depicts how Chicanos and minorities have been disempowered by the only “legitimate” inhabitants, those in power, the whites and those who align themselves as whites. Minorities are aware that as soon as they cross the border, they will be oppressed due to their intersectionality. Minority women have to fear being sexually victimized due to their gender, minorities have to deal with being underpaid due to their race, and they have to fear being labeled as criminals due to their class. Due to oppression created by Whites, Mexicans or Chicanos feel obligated to change their way of life. One way in which Anzaldua believed change within the Mexican culture could be resisted was by learning how the conquest removed all power over Mexico from Indigenous people. She wished that by explaining the conquest of Mexico, Chicanos would learn that in reality the real immigrants are White people and not them. Minorities should learn their background in order to feel empowered and resist oppression.

Black Motherhood: Civil or Threatening

One thing that I realized while reading Anzaldua is that a border does not only divide two cities, but it divides all minorities. One thing that all borders, rather physically or figuratively have in common; is that they all consider White people’s lifestyle as the ideal lifestyle and they all discriminate against race and color. Patricia Hill Collins, explained how Black mothers have been labeled as bad mother because they have an image of a super strong Black mother who are believed to raise deviant children. Black women are highly oppressed due to their gender which is why Black mothers feel entitled to defeminize their daughters. Black mothers are considered deviant for teaching their daughters how to fit into the sexual politics of Black womanhood. By learning the politics of Black womanhood, future Black mothers are learning to prevent sexual assault, wage, and occupation discrimination. White hegemonic society disapproves of this motherhood because it brings threat to their power.

Black mothers have also been scrutinized for emasculating their sons. They feel entitled to do so in order to protect them against oppression. Black children need protection in order to survive the streets and fight oppression. Collins explained how within African American communities there are “blood mothers” and “other mothers”. A “other mother” is a woman who assist blood mothers by sharing mothering responsibility. Collins described that other mothers are crucial within African American neighborhoods because child care is difficult within a community that is exposed to racism. In her article, Cheryl Rodriguez, explained how a Black mother is criticized by people for beating her child in public after being deviant towards the police. At the same time, White people applauded her because they thought the Black mother by slapping her son may have felt she was protecting White America from yet another Black criminal who would soon be breaking into homes or robbing on the streets.This statement clearly demonstrates that there is a border or a division that divides “White America” and Black people. Due to this event, White people are already assuming that this Black teenager is going to be a criminal. They are making this assumption based on his class and race. This example interconnects with Anzaldua’s concept of the “us” and “them”. White America does consider Black teenagers as “them”, them who they believe will only create danger.

However, in the given example, the Black mother is fast to clear that she did not slap her son for the greater good of White America, but for the greater good of her son, she was protecting her son from the Baltimore police, who could have shot him dead that very day. It would have been more than likely that the police officer her son was showing deviance towards was a White officer. She knew that due to race, her son could have been consider a threat to society and could have been killed. This is a perfect example of why Black mothers must raise their children the way they do in order to resist oppression and discrimination. This is why African American communities need other mothers in order to protect Black children.

African American Baby Breaking Borders

It is clear that America believes being blue-eyed and blonde-hair is the ideal image of the country. If this wasn’t true, maybe racism wouldn’t exist. The feminist griote tells the experience of a White lesbian couple who desired to have a blue-eyed and blonde-hair baby. The couple walked into a sperm bank desiring a White blue-eyes baby, but instead walked out with a Black baby. The feminist griote states that Black parents must teach their children real history and teach them that their history does begin at the point of slavery and they must find perfect balance of talking to kids about race and racism. Black parents feel entitled to have these conversations with their children due to the oppression and discrimination that they will face. Anzaldua would agree that it is important for Black parents to teach their children about their history because it will help them feel empowered. However, what happens in the case of the White lesbian couple who are not Black and do not know what it feels to be oppressed? How do they raise their Black baby? The article stated how no parenting book or good intentions can ever prepare White folks for the challenge of raising a Black child in a racist society. Not only will this baby be raised in a racist society, but he will more than likely face the same issues that Anzaldua faced. He might not feel accepted by his White family for being Black and he might not feel accepted with the Black community for having White parents. These are border that the Black baby will have to learn to cross and live by.

As stated before, Black mothers are scrutinized for the way they raise their children. They are believed to be raising deviant teens, which in reality they are just teaching them how to defend themselves within a racist society. I question if these White mothers will also be scrutinized just as Black mothers by way they raise their Black baby. Will they also be accused of “emasculating” their baby boy?

Patricia Hill Collins, depicts Black motherhood. She draws back on how the struggle of Black Motherhood begins from slavery. From this point, Black mothers had to learn how to raise Black children in order to survive within a society that sets borders and oppresses. I believe that Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands, interconnects with Black motherhood. Black women are aware that a border lays in between her and White hegemonic society. Black mothers must be able to teach their children their history, but also skills to survive due to their intersectionality.

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