I need to know where my kids are at. Because when you came out of my womb you came out alone. I had to take him to all them little, you know, classes and it was cutting out time for my other kids. I want to go to the gym. A job or you want to go to jail? The women we interviewed proudly spoke of their strength and the sacrifices they have made to insulate their children from the surrounding dangers, but as their stories demonstrate, these efforts stem from living in impossible conditions created by state policies and practices, and they are often not enough.
I need to know where my kids are at. In her book on racial bias in the child welfare system, Dorothy Roberts, an eminent scholar of race, gender, and the law, argues that stereotypes of poor Black women as bad mothers mean that they are more heavily monitored by the state and their mothering is treated with suspicion. Basically they were telling me [the principal] was going to call ACS Administration for Child Services on me because Corey is not coming to school. The mother of three explained that even so she is vigilant: Praise and Punishment Highly publicized recent incidences of police brutality have highlighted persistent racism and the ongoing challenges of being Black in America. The mothers we interviewed described how state involvement in their lives was at best neglectful and at worst exacerbated the parenting challenges and stress they faced. Yeah, they are holding on. To insulate him from danger, Malaya spoke of her interest in homeschooling: Friends are friends, but your life is more important. Vivian, a New York mother of two boys, worried that her year-old son Dixon would end up in jail or dead. So you cannot fault me for his mistakes. The nearly 50 low-income urban Black mothers of teenagers we interviewed in North Carolina and New York described the multiple strategies they use to insulate their children from danger—strategies that also bring stress and hardship to the mothers themselves. A recent analysis of federal school data by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that, even as Black children represent less than a quarter of the student body in North Carolina and 12 other southern states, they make up about half of all expulsions and suspensions. In separate works, sociologists Dawn Dow and Karen McCormack found that the controlling images of Black women, such as the welfare queen and the strong Black woman, influence how both poor and middle-class Black mothers make parenting decisions, and create a sense of exclusion from White motherhood. When asked in an interview about recent major events in her life, she said her 26 year-old son had been murdered three weeks ago while trying to break up a fight at a house party. Recent analyses by statistician Nate Silver underscore how dangerous the U. The day before her son was murdered, Malaya joined a community gym with plans to lose weight because she was experiencing some health problems she wanted to manage: Hey, if they keeps them under me, under my eye watch, go right ahead. Time and again sociological research has revealed that mothers like Malaya, Vivian, Adrianna, and others we spoke with face many challenges raising children, and that the vast majority do everything they can to protect and nurture their children. All that mingling in the streets is only going to cause trouble. I want Nina to understand it. I was like, I have a seven year old and you can check, he has perfect attendance. I want to go to the gym. The long-held superstrong Black mother image, Patricia Hill Collins argues, now dictates the terms of good mothering for Black women: When the cameras is gone, the reality of life is still there.
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