I’m a true believe in the power of words to shape how one interacts and communicates their experience with the world. Because I’ve always done more listening then talking I’ve grown to realize that a simple slip of the tongue can tell so much about a person’s subconscious feelings.
Not only that, but the words in which one chooses to describe themselves tells a lot about how that person feels, both consciously and sub-consciously if you know what to listen for.
As a natural linguist I often noted the subtle difference between a person’s choice to use one set of words versus another to generally explain or describe the same thing.
It’s not entirely our fault since an individual’s vocabulary is only as good as the vocabulary of those around them.
In addition, a vocabulary also consists of words and phrases based on whatever words are commonly used to describe the everyday phenomenon of human existence.
Why do the words that we use matter so much?
Because it is through this collective language that we pass down the shared experience of being Black. Though people may differ in their capacity to comprehend the meanings of certain words, we are still able to understand the implied meaning beyond the surface level of our dialogue.
It is this meaning that we should pay more attention to if we are to ever hope to change the ways in which Blacks exist in society.
One area in which we can apply our hypothesis is by examining the way in which we, as Black people, approach parenthood.
As we know, OOW births are rampart in the Black community, and though I am not a traditionalist in the least, the fact that so many children are born to ill equipped and negligent parents can’t be ignored.
The Chicken. The Egg.
If we look at the different phrases used to describe the act of bearing and raising children there is a telltale clue to the difference in the way in which Blacks view parenthood versus other groups.
Could the slight difference in terminology cause things to be so much harder later on down the road or is the hard experience of being born to Black parents best described by the words used.
Mom, Where Do Black Babies Come From?
Dysfunctional women start families by ‘getting knocked up’, when I visualize this phrase it brings to mind the entire act of conception as something violent, and accidental. Like a drive by shooting; no witnesses, lots of blood and senseless
By using the phrase, ‘she got knocked up’ we alleviate discussion of how a woman becomes pregnant, and even more important than that….who ‘knocked her up’?
White women ‘get pregnant’, by accident, on purpose, by happenstance and any a number of genuine, acceptable and easily relatable reasons. Birth control does fail, condoms pop, schedules change, champagne flows, and sometimes you just aren’t being as responsible as you have been these last X amount of years since you first been sexually active and began taking steps to avoid pregnancy.
Middle class White couples and other cultures are able to maneuver children in a space that makes room for the children to exist as part of the larger fabric of Standard America. Parents may sulk, grandparents may tisk, but everyone moves forward with intention when a couple prepares for a child, even when the child was originally unintentional.
Low class/ill prepared women refer to themselves ’having babies’, rather than a more middle class concept such as ‘starting a family’, ‘reproducing’, ‘becoming a mother’, ‘adding an addition’, ‘not being careful’….you get the idea.
With less open dialogue about sex, birth control and the stigma of abortion, black women who need to be vigilant about their reproductive capacity are left to skip landmines and when they aren’t able to, the proof of her ‘fault’ is being pushed in a stroller as she walks alone.
Thanks for child……and now what?
Women and men unprepared to have children approach the pending birth as an end process instead of a lifelong commitment to the care, development and support of another human being. Lower class mothers increase in weight, may or may not continue to work, attend school and continue on with their own lives while pregnant. Inexperience and ignorance may cause some to neglect to make accommodations for the child until after the child is born.
It is at this point where a new child get tossed into instability as she/he is placed from family member to family member as the unprepared mother tries to move forward as if things didn’t change even though she is now a parent and her child has basic needs. Attempting to rally the support of the father may include his participating with care, but if he is employed then he has his own responsibilities that supersede the childcare necessities of a child. At some point
Could this difference is expectations may be a reason why Black men do not feel the need to stick around to provide something they do not feel they have within them or are they unwilling to give another human being something they themselves did not receive during their own childhood?
Women who are socially stable enter into parenthood with the awareness that they will be “raising children”; the children born to healthy familiar environments are considered a part of the clan social system and are deserving, and valuable. These families go about the business of gathering resources in preparation of a long haul commitment to the survival of the pending child.
I don’t think this phenomena is unique to married couples, I believe the willingness to participate in the development and care of a child is something that can be achieved by any welcoming and stable family structure, be it same sex, platonic friends, unmarried couples, adoption, or single parents.
Lower class women, with less resources to begin with, need to take into consideration the resources of the potential father before deciding on whether he is capable of contributing to a child. The willingness to become a father, no matter how genuine, can not take the place of financial resources, no matter how great his intentions and commitment to she and her child.
A woman shouldn’t have a baby and those around her call it a blessing and pray on it when they know there are no means to raise the pending child, nor is its presence necessarily welcomed.
The Gift of Life is an Unwanted Mistake
I was attending church for awhile during my pregnancy. I had no ring on my finger, but the father of my child and I were in a committed relationship, we lived together and were normally stable. At this point, we were having an abundance of problems and he had moved out, though we were still together as a couple.
My child’s babysitter was a wonderful woman who found her way to redemption at the alter of the Lord. She never neglected to invite me or anyone else to Sunday service. It was a kind gesture. I won’t lie, I’m suspicious and very intolerant of religion, so I keep my distance although I’ve visited multiple places of worship and have been greeted and warmly welcomed. I’m just not into the whole higher concept thing.
Nevertheless, I attended a service and some how seemed to draw the attention of the pastor during his sermon. He preached and prayed and admonished those in the audience who need forgiveness to go forward and kneel and beg the Lord for forgiveness. This wasn’t the largest church ever, but it wasn’t so small that he had to give the entire sermon next to me.
There were so many people running forward that they had begun to pile up on one another. I turned and look at the pastor and he’s facing me..still preaching.
He then reaches out to grab my arm and LEADS me up to the alter.
I didn’t know what to do…….my initial reaction was to back his ass up off of me in the ways I employ, but I’m in a church and pregnant! I can’t fight or fling right now.
I opened my mouth to protest in sailor language but thought about my babysitter, whom I would never want to insult.
I thought about how disgusting and ignorant I think people like this are. I kick myself and ask how did I allow myself to be duped into being here right now.
I. WAS. LIVID!!
Yes, I was pregnant.
No, it wasn’t planned.
No, I wasn’t married.
Yes, we were happy….(after the initial shock of how I got pregnant but that’s a story for another time. I think MOST parents have a five second (or more) disconnect of a *blink blink* when hearing about a pending birth).
YOU might think my actions a sin but there is no way in conscious Hell that I would go about carrying a child that I love while also allowing myself to ashamed of the thing that I love that I am carrying inside of me.
I was ‘off my meds’ at the time after finally having received mental health service for bi-polar. I was initially taken off my normal meds and given Prozac, thought to be safer. It took 48 hours for the drugs to have me suicidal and being hyper delivered to the Dr for an evaluation. After that scare I refused to take any meds during the pregnancy, my mental condition was fragile on paper, but I was back to myself…aggressive, sporadic and manic.
That’s religious madness and I feel sorry for any woman who has had to carry and bear a child under circumstances where she’s dammed if she does and dammed if she doesn’t….LITERALLY.
Many women are simultaneously told that a baby is a “blessing” and should not be aborted yet she should is shamed and made to regret having created and her choice to bear the child.
I did what I needed to do in order to make myself as healthy and stable as I could while also preparing to carry and deliver a child. Both he and I were employed, with stable health insurance providing jobs, I was home at the time on disability.
My child attended a good school, we were surrounded by friends and family anticipating our child. We were closer in age to 30, than 20…I had no reason to hang my head.
How does it benefit anyone involved to shame the mother of a child in a time where she could use as much support and guidance as is available? Like any mother, I’m sure there are times when she’s scared and possibly overwhelmed, are there no kind words? No advice? No reassurance…?
Guess what a new mother has never done before???????????? BE A MOTHER!!
These mothers suffer emotionally abused and neglected. Possibly abandoned by the father of their child and when those around her should be gathering together we point fingers and whisper.
We, especially females, encourage new BC mother’s to put on her ‘strong black woman’ pants as we stand in line to hand out indifference as target practice of what’s to come only because that is what we choose to offer her.
Were we to ask what the implication is on the psyche of child when a society deems them mistakes, sins and burdens yet hypocritically claims love to that same child, what would the answer be?
There can be only one answer.
Either you love, accept and welcome this new person that will require strength and perseverance of you that you never knew you had or you are sorry that you did what you did and but somehow also chose to complete the birth of a person that you wished wasn’t here.
Children placed in adoption are loved. Children kept within their own families are hated. How does that happen?
The black community can’t have it both ways. I know of women who abuse their children in a multitude of ways but they will be quick to tell you how ‘good’ of a mother they are because their children wear Jordans yet eat off the floor.
Having basic needs met is the standard of care for some parents and that’s unfortunate when a child is born and one if not both parents check out because the situation has lost its luster after the baby showers, congratulations and good wishes and popular FB updates.
Children realize when they are unwanted. They grow up to be resentful and hurt spirits who question their lack of worth by the very people who created them. These children go out into the world expressing their feelings of worthlessness to others that look like them; the community, or their own offspring, their families.
Generations upon generations of humans deemed unwanted by their family, their culture and the greater society. We should not only question the manner in which we bring children into disjointed circumstances but also why we choose to do things that are inherently destructive to our future are black women.