Mother’s Day 2012 honored the complex, exquisite love between African-American mothers and their children. This love is similar to the love of all mothers and children except that more African-American mothers are both primary caregivers and primary breadwinners in their families.
In 2008 the American Prospect, a political magazine, reported that due to the impact of racism on the economic prospects for black men, black women are likely to be the ones caring for and earning the money to support their children. The startling news is that this includes both families headed by working single mothers as well as married couples where the wife works and the man does not. Unemployment among adults in the United States is the highest among black men.
These factors make the love between black children and their mothers more intense because often there are no fathers in the home and sometimes when the fathers are there, they are unable to financially support the family. African-American children quickly realize that their mothers are the ones that literally, emotionally and spiritually keep the family thriving. This is not the same concept of “house husbands” that many white families are utilizing when the white mother earns the money and her husband raises the children.
University-educated black women still earn less than white men with a high school education. Only in my church, which is predominantly African-American, have I observed large numbers of black families where the fathers are the primary breadwinners or where equally both parents financially provide for their families. Mother’s Day in my church is celebrated with so much joy while, even there, when Father’s Day comes, too many of the children cry for their missing fathers.
Added to all of this is the fact that African-American men are a disproportionally large percentage of the unemployed, the largest numbers of prisoners, and the ones most likely to be killed at an early age. All these black men in these statistics are sons with mothers. They were once little brown boys full of dreams too about who they could grow up to be and what gifts and talents they could share.
Madison still refuses to support a school, Madison Prep that would help black boys grow into strong men who beat the statistical odds.
I am the divorced mother of one son. I raised him as a single parent because of my poor choice in a husband, who turned out not to be a good father either. Given the recent deaths of Bo Morrison and Trayvon Martin, I am grateful that I have a son who is alive, with his spirit intact, and who is thriving despite American racism. Mother’s Day 2012 makes me realize that my greatest accomplishment and blessing is having a son who is still alive.
Fabu, Madison’s former poet laureate, is a consultant in African-American culture and arts. She writes a monthly column for The Capital Times. [email protected]