I wasn't going to write about this for two reasons: 1. I 'd be too emotional about it since it is my life--as you'll see in one of the articles I will link to below--I can't look back too fondly on my entry into this life. It was a disheartening experience that I went through with the support of my sister and one of my best friends. It took the wind out of my sails and dashed the dream I had about what being a stay-at-home mom would be like. As a result, most of my stay-at-home-mom friends don't live in my neighborhood--and that's okay. And 2. Other writers, like the ones I will link to below are way more informed and well-versed on the topics, have done a great job of making lots of points that I agree with, and are probably way smarter than me.
What I will say though, is that I have seen some other sites pick these articles up and some of the comments there and on Facebook make it very clear that some people see the title of the pieces, get angry at seeing the word " black", and don't read it before sharing their opinions. One person asked, how are black-stay-at home moms any different from other stay-at-home mom. The answer is that our existence isn't accepted as easily as that of white stay-at-home moms and we constantly have to justify our existence and explain our choices. Historically, black mothers have moved from working side-by-side with their men in the fields, to working alone taking care of the homes and families of white women, to gaining access to education and working in other careers. Historically, black mothers work. This stay-at-home mom business is seen as a "white woman thing". In Lashaun Williams' post on The L Factor, she explains,
"The female experience has differed for white women in this country, as they have historically been expected to simply look pretty, stay home and have babies. While they felt trapped in a sea of domestication, black mothers longed to devote more time to their own children."
One comment I saw online said that a black stay-at-home mom is called a welfare mom. It is so sad how in political, and lets face it, plain terms "stay-at-home mom" connotes white, married moms who live in the suburbs and "welfare moms", black, single moms living in the hood. I can't even start on the unfair stereotypes assigned to black single moms vs white single moms, but rest assured I'm annoyed by that too.
I blame the media. Yep, I said it. Why else would the prevailing opinions about welfare recipients be so completely unaffected by the actual facts?
- Public Perceptions: Most welfare moms are black. Mostly black people benefit from welfare and food stamps.
- Fact: Nine(9) percent of food stamp recipients are black — and 84 percent are white.
- Fact: Nationally, 39 percent of welfare recipients are white, 37 percent are black.
Of the above statistics (I borrowed those from this awesome article about a recent, Republican presidential hopeful going on camera saying he doesn't want taxpayer dollars to make black people's lives better), I don't know what percentage of blacks are female, and how many of those have children, but it's definitely not the majority. From that, how in the hell do we get folks (you know which ones) getting all up in arms about how their hard-earned tax dollars are going to help black people? And Lord help us, how do we get black people believing the same thing about ourselves? Answer--the media.
I know "The Media" is broad-stroking it, but mass news outlets need to be more responsible about the stories and images they use to inform the public about us. The film, television and music industries have a hand in it too, but they want to make money. So they only serve to reinforce what people think they already know about us, based on the constant flow of images and messages coming from media outlets. Ask yourself when was the last time you saw a widely successful film depicting black people in a "normal", positive light, free of hyper-sexual and hood-life stereotypes or pre-civil rights nostalgia? Nobody wants to see those films because they're not realistic. I talk about that in my review of the film, Red Tails. And if a black TV show is missing a broken home, a buffoon, hair weaves and label-hungry clothes horses in stilettos, good luck getting a second season. Gone are the days of a show like "The Cosby Show" ever seeing Primetime Tevelision again. I'm not saying every black show has to be wholesome, but where's the balance? For every Shore of New Jersey Housewife whatever show, there's a whole network of wholesome white family shows. Where is the balance?
Giiiiiiirl, if they don't stop it with this mess...
Obviously lots of people, black, white and other, would rather we stop justifying our existence and bringing up our differences (i.e. "black" stay-at-home-moms, "black" child prodigy, "black" entrepreneur, etc.) but if we stop bringing it up, ignorance will prevail. Even if one person is surprised to learn that I, a black woman with a college degree who actually chose to quit working and make my child's early years my priority with the support of guess who--my husband, then that's one less ignorant person who can at least say they know one. UGH!
This is all very frustrating.
What has to happen for us to get it right in this country? Geez!
For some good reading related to the topics mentioned here, I recommend:
- Black Women Overlooked In Stay-At-Home Moms Debate (Where my intro into the world of being a black stay-at-home mom living in a white, TX suburb is mentioned.)
- Room For Debate: How black and white is feminism. Is Feminism for Black Mothers, Too?
- The ‘Welfare Queen’ Experiment: How Viewers React to Images of African-American Mothers on Welfare
- Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse: A Review
- Just Felt This Flick: Red Tails
Love and light, y'all. Love and friggin light. lol