black motherhood

When neo-soul singer Erykah Badu announced her third pregnancy in 2008, some fans attacked her for having children outside of marriage with more than one father. One online commenter labeled the singer, known for rocking a mega ’fro, ‘trash with great hair.’ A article that referred to Badu’s 'growing list of baby daddies’ featured a 'Knocked Up Again’ headline. A blog article wondered baldly if the singer was 'a ho.’ She was derided as a poor example of black womanhood. The storm got so heavy that Badu bit back in a lengthy and poetically unapologetic online post about her family that ended with an entreaty to 'Kiss my placenta.’

Three years later, when Beyoncé announced she was expecting, she was publicly applauded for doing pregnancy 'the right way,’ and celebrated for being a model of black womanhood. Even Diddy’s 18-year-old son, Justin Combs, weighed in on Bey’s proper use of her uterus. Combs tweeted: 'Beyoncé dated, married, THEN got pregnant…young ladies take notes.’ (No word on whether Combs’s dad, who has never married but has five children, is also taking notes.)


Tamara Winfrey Harris

I think this proves my point[s] again regarding the fact that Beyonce’s pregnancy & birth were applauded, while overall Black motherhood is degraded. Mainly because Black motherhood is stereotyped. Black mothers are seen as vile, crude, loud-mouthed ghetto bitches and ho’s, welfare queens, unmarried womyn who have children out of wedlock. They are seen as violent towards their children and their children’s father, as birthing the unwanted, the excess. However, when someone like Beyonce, who falls well within the politics of respectability, who’s rich, light skinned, thin, with no visible disabilities, and married, has a child; folks use her as a example of what black mothers SHOULD be, how they SHOULD rear a child. Essentially, they are using her body to uphold standards of respectabiltiy and white supremacy, simultaneously degrading those “regular” black womyn while not examining the privileges that Beyonce has. Once again, this is also true because Blue Ivy’s birth is within the confines of a heterosexual marriage, which assumed monogamous dating preceeded. Blue Ivy is not the excess or the unwanted, ze’s the prized because hir mother “did it the right way.” She reproduced into a capitalist, heteronormative familial structure. That’s when its all good, that’s when its ok & cool to be a Black mother, when you’re Beyonce.