On Motherhood and NWNW
I’m sorry y’all but this “No Wedding, No Womb” stuff is really driving me up the wall. NFL season isn’t worth talking about until my Cowboys start winning. MLB playoffs hold no status since my Astros are…my Astros. No Wedding, No Womb has even managed to wrest my attention from the start of basketball and hockey seasons.
This “movement” has me thinking seriously about my stance on having children out of wedlock. In that sense, it has been effective. For the past two weeks, it’s all anyone can talk about. Lately I’ve been thinking about what it is that truly keeps me from supporting what is (should be, anyway) a noble cause, that is: providing stability for our children.
This morning I listened to the “organizer” of the movement on the Michael Eric Dyson show speak about the importance of marriage to the Black community, and how after slavery ended, Black men and women rushed out to get married. I read a post from a supporter that spoke about the importance of a husband in the life of a woman and children. I read tweets about what marriage means for a woman.
Then it hit me. I can’t ride for this shit because there is little to NO conversation about the importance of motherhood (parenthood) or what it means to be a mother (parent) in the Black community. There is talk of making better lives for children by ending the wave of fatherlessness but no conversation about what it means to be a mother or what we, as a community, can do to help women who have children out of wedlock.
During slavery, motherhood was seen as a woman’s most important rite of passage. The other women on the plantation did not look down on a mother who bore a child out of wedlock. She wasn’t a slut, a hood rat or anything other than a woman whose well-being was the concern of the entire community.
Pregnant women, before slavery ended, were (and still are) dependent on other women for guidance before, during and after the childbirth process. When did we lose sight of that? When did we lose sight of the fact that regardless of a woman’s marital status, what she needs most from other women is help learning what it means to be a good mother?
I agree with Karazin’s suggestion that we not lose sight of our past. The strength needed to be a good parent to a child must be cultivated through community. Instead of bashing our neighbors who may appear to be single women, we will reach out to them and get to know them, and refrain from making baseless assumptions about their situations. Yes, Black fatherlessness is an issue but so is the lack of community in Black America. When we left the plantations, we left behind one of the most beautiful aspects of slave culture. We left behind our sense of responsibility for one another. That, I think, is at the root of many of the problems we face now.
If we are truly concerned about the well-being of children, as NWNW supporters claim to be then we’ll realize, as our ancestors did, that it is the health and ability of the parent that will make life better for children, not the marital status.