There are many images that are associated with black women but one of the most despicable to me is the baby momma. This is a relatively new concept historically speaking but it is no less damaging on the women to whom this label is applied. When Fox News referred to Michelle Obama as Baracks’s Baby Mommy, the black community rose in arms to repatriate her image citing her obvious intelligence, beauty, and status as a married woman. Michelle was part of the much desired patriarchal family and therefore her reproduction is deemed acceptable.
Black women are continually lectured about the high rate of single motherhood in the community. When we assert our reproductive rights and choose to have abortions we are told that we are being complicit in the genocide of our peoples. This discipline amounts to one thing – black women are to avoid teh sex unless we have put on our
slave collar wedding band and dutifully submitted to our patriarchal over lord black husband.
If we choose or are forced through circumstance to parent singly we are demonized. The point is to affirm that the black womans life should be spent under male headship, while sacrificing to advance him at every opportunity. A woman that is independent of or seeks to carve a roll for herself outside of wedded bliss is constructed as the harridan.
The problems in the black community are placed solidly at our feet. Somehow if we would all just dawn the moniker of MRS, allow some man to us chase around the bedroom twice a week, and cook and clean on command, black men would stop selling drugs, succeed in school, stop killing each other, and achieve good full-time employment. We are continually constructed as the downfall of all despite the fact that we exist with the least social power.
The issue is that we have come to view power as the ability to oppress rather than the ability to construct. Black men seek to mirror the white male patriarchy and therefore the oppression of black women is a necessary step. A man that truly views women as his equal is not understood as properly masculinzed and therefore in an effort to affirm their identity men often act in oppressive ways. Not only do they feel it is necessary to point out that they are not women, hyper masculinity becomes the norm as aggression, and violence, become intimately associated with what it is to exist as a black male.
Somehow we have naturalized this imbalance and it to is the detriment of black women. If black men cannot stop being violent with one another, why are we to assume that our submission will mean that they will stop beating us, being emotionally abusive, and raping us? When we stand for our rights we are once again shamed, but if a dog is being attacked and it acts in its own defence we can see that as natural.
What is a baby momma but a woman that is struggling to raise her children in a world that has told her that she does not have the right to take up any space? What is a baby momma but a woman that must constantly walk into the wind with only her self pride as a shield? Our society has made a practice of demonizing women and despite the cultural myth of the strong black woman we have invested more energy into shaming, reducing, and abusing black womanhood, than we ever have to celebrating it. We may embrace our big mommas after her body is bent with age, but we never acknowledge that the wrinkles of stress and time that she bears on her face are the scars of the violence that we have inflicted upon her.
We socially repeat the lie continually that the black community is a matriarchy to shield the despotic role that patriarchy has come to play. If we truly lived in a matriarchy why would black men feel that it is acceptable to refer to us as bitches and hoes? Why is it that we are continually sexualized and exploited in rap videos? There are countless ways in which black womanhood is devalued and yet we still repeatedly hear the lie about the matriarchy.
I will tell you point blank, the life of a black woman is hard. There are days when I feel like Sophia from the color purple. When she stood there in a rage after fighting off Harpo, announcing that she would “kill him dead before she allowed him to beat her body”, it spoke to the experience of so many black women. Many whisper the words of love in our ear in full knowledge of the falseness of the promises in the sweet soliloquies that they employ to tame us. To be black and female is to know on the most fundamental level what the word betrayal means.