By Andrea Plaid
The Feminist Wire, helmed by the ever-fierce Tamura Lomax, is fast becoming the go-to joint for some incredible posts on feminism from newest generation of academics-cum-public thinkers–and I’m not just saying that because I’m part of its editorial collective.
This week is one of the reasons why: they’re running a weeklong forum on race, racism, and anti-racism within feminism. Like, check out this post from Dr. Duchess Harris on what’s at stake for straight Black women when we embrace motherhood and feminism:
In 1895, Wells married Ferdinand L. Barnett. She set an early precedent as one of the first married American women to keep her own last name along with her husband’s. The couple had four children: Charles, Herman, Ida, and Alfreda. In her autobiography, A Divided Duty, Wells-Barnett describes the difficulty she had splitting her time between her family and her work. She continued to work after the birth of her first child, traveling and bringing the infant Charles with her. Instead of supporting her, Susan B. Anthony said she seemed “distracted.”
Like Ida B. Wells-Barnett, my experience as a Black woman in the academy has been that my choice to be committed to supporting my Black husband and raising Black children has been interpreted as a “divided duty,” more than 100 years after Wells-Barnett blazed the trail. I entered the tenure-track 15 years ago when I was five months pregnant. I have taken three parental leaves, which were all met with resentment. This is not unusual, but what I am confident of is that if I had chosen to stay home, I would have faced as much hostility, if not more. America is comfortable with Black women raising white children (TheHelp, To Kill A Mockingbird, Clara’s Heart, I’ll Fly Away…need I go on?), but the minute we try to take care of our own, we’re reduced to “letting down the team,” which is what white feminist Linda Hirshman is claiming about Lady “O.” I’m confused. Just because I have five letters behind my name (Ph.D. and JD) and a substantive career does not mean I am, ever have been, or ever will be on their team.
Why? Because I am raising a daughter the same age as Quvenzhané Wallis, and it’s not the same as raising Dakota Fanning. After receiving an Oscar nomination for her role in Beastsof the Southern Wild, Wallis, the youngest Best Actress nominee ever, landed the leading role in Sony Pictures/Overbrook Entertainment’s upcoming Annie. Despite this, as many people know, The Onion degraded her childhood by calling her a “cunt.” This is where there is a divide between white Moms and “Mocha Moms.” Leslie Morgan Steiner is not raising Quvenzhané, but we are.
I highly recommend going over to the Feminist Wire for more thought-provoking goodness, and check out what else is good on the R’s Tumblr!