Race & Motherhood

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"Mom and Kids on Couch", Bill Emory, 2006, http://www.billemory.com/

Motherhood is not only a term that applies to White, French Mothers. In the present day and age the attack on low income mothers and women of color has become prevalent. White supremacy, racism, and misogyny all set the stage for a generational attack on Black women and their reproductive rights. Laws were established during the enslaved period which took away reproductive and motherhood freedoms from Black mothers. Slavery created a negative view of the Black womans body as an object that was not worthy of taking care of her own children (yet was worthy of watching white children) which affected the narrative that surrounded Black women for generations to come. [1]

Single story narratives are often created in order to subordinate groups and keep them in subordinated positions which is the common thread of this book. The narrative of unfit mother, then became welfare queen, crack mother and the list goes on and on.  These stigmas placed on Black mothers and motherhood has direct effects on the field of sex work. There is a large number of sex workers who are Black women and also mothers. They have to deal with the historical racist representations of them as Black women coupled with the negative connotations of what it means to be a sex worker. The body of Black women have always been invisible and hypervisible at the same time. By that I mean that so much violence occurred to Black womens bodies due to the fact that they were "always visible" to the white gaze as the "other", while at the same time they were not recognized as human beings which rendered their bodies invisible. 

 Knowing that motherhood has been shaped and formed by the single narrative of one type of womanhood what can be sone for mothers seen as unfit to be recognized as mothers? Society has been so focused on deciding who is "good" or "bad" that they do not focus on the structural issues that cause many women to have to engage in sex work in the first place. Capitalism, racism and misogyny closely affect the lives of many sex workers who are mothers, yet we blame their part in the field of sex work. The system needs to be set up to give mothers who are sex workers the resources to be able to make a decent salary in a job that makes enough income to support their family instead of morally, rhetorically, physically, and judicially attacking those women. Historically it has been easier to stigmatize and "other" mothers who are sex workers than it has been to help them out. In order for mothers as sex workers to be treated with respect their needs to be pressure to be put on the system to change and stop focusing on the individual. Especially individuals who use the little resources and agency that they to support them and their families in the best ways that they can. 

[1] Roberts, D. E. (1997). Killing the black body: Race, reproduction, and the meaning of liberty.


Race & Motherhood