March 29, 2016

During the last week of Women’s History Month, the African American Policy Forum and other groups are calling on all Americans on each day of the week to address a special issue confronting Black women and girls in the United States. Our show will pick up on the theme of “StandingUpForMom: Resisting the War on Black Single Mothers.” One of the most common societal tropes in resisting the call for racial justice is the reflexive response of blaming single Black mothers for poverty, crime and any negatives in the African American community.

This show is devoted to uplifting the truth about Black single mothers and their many great achievements and forbearance despite societal neglect, stereotyping, racism and gender discrimination.  Besides refuting this stereotype, our show will examine the many policies that could improve conditions for single Black mothers.

Our expert guests include Professor Luke Harris of Vassar College and Co-Founder of the African American Policy Forum; Lisalyn Jacobs, Founder of Just Solutions and Former VP for government relations at Legal Momentum; and Kiese Laymon, Associate Professor of English at Vassar College and the Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi for 2015-2016.  See their full bios on this website.

The 2010 census reported that 40% of births happen out of wedlock. This number is even higher for Black women and other women of color. When it comes to the increasing numbers of single white women mothers, the societal narrative is becoming increasingly positive; but increased acceptance, understanding and support has yet to be extended to single Black mothers. In discussions on closing the racial opportunity gap, blaming systemic inequities on absent fathers and the inadequacies of present mothers continues to be deemed an acceptable viewpoint across the political spectrum.

In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan demonized Black mothers in his (in)famous report on Black America: “A community that allows a large number of men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority…that community asks for and gets chaos.” Fifty years later, Black women raising children outside of traditional definitions of a nuclear family continue to be subject to demonization, criminalization, and damaging stereotypes casting them as “welfare queens” and “unfit mothers.” Instead of labeling Moynihan’s vision as sexist and outdated, decision-makers celebrated his vision as we marked the 50th anniversary of the Moynihan Report in 2015, with outlets such as the Washington Post publishing pieces titled, “Was the Moynihan Report Right? Sobering Findings After the 1965 Study is Revisited.”

In reality, Black women are the primary breadwinners in a majority of Black households. If we truly seek to uplift Black communities, we need to support policies that bolster mothers who are present and raising their children. We need to bolster the social safety net and combat the earnings gap so that all Americans have a shot at creating a financially secure life for their family — regardless of whether that family fits the patriarchal model deemed as the norm.

Join Barbara Arnwine & the African American Policy Forum for a critical conversation as we explore an intersectional understanding of single motherhood. How can we expand this discourse to be inclusive? What unique challenges do single Black mothers face? How can our communities best support them? And how can we foster an intersectional conversation about single motherhood that encompasses the diverse experiences of all single mothers?

Be sure to spread the word!

This week’s guests:

Kiese Laymon

Kiese Laymon is a black southern writer, born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University before graduating from Oberlin […]

Lisalyn R. Jacobs

Lisalyn R. Jacobs is the CEO of Just Solutions: Bringing in justice to counteract injustice, and the former V.P. of Government Relations for Legal Momentum […]

Luke Harris

Mr. Luke C. Harris, Director of Programs and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African American policy Forum, is an Associate Professor of […]