Single Motherhood. It is something that is often regarded as a reflection of a broken home, that produces broken children. It is treated as something shameful, something that needs to be repaired within the Black community. The truth is that single motherhood is a reflection of the exact opposite, it is a role that demonstrates strength and perseverance. Black single mothers do it all. They cook, clean, work long hours, drive to sports practices, attend recitals. They are the single backbone of their homes. So why is it that we look down on our Black single mothers?
The absentee father narrative is assigned to Black children regardless of whether they actually are members of single-mother households. The “When is your dad coming back from the store?” joke is a tired one, and one that diminishes the role of the Black single mother. It suggests that a home without a father is an incomplete one, something to be ridiculed. These same critiques are not often applied to white single mothers, evidence of America’s long standing negative perceptions of which can be attributed to America’s long-standing negative perceptions of Black women. The idea that Black women are stronger and better equipped to handle pain, both mental and physical, shapes how we support Black single mothers.
The Black community often treats the lack of a father figure as a kind of disease that is brought on by the actions of the mother. There is an expectation that she could have and should have done more to maintain the “traditional family dynamic.” This expectation does not hold absent fathers accountable for their actions and promotes the toxic idea that Black women have to uplift the Black community alone. Black women cannot be expected to continuously uplift a community that does not demonstrate support for them and their unique struggles. Black men can be absentee fathers for a variety of reasons, some not within their control. It is unfair to simplify the issue of absentee fathers to being a man of bad character. However, it is more unfair to allow the absence of a father to reflect negatively on the mother who performs the task of raising and supporting children alone.
To support Black single mothers, we need to destroy the single story of Black single motherhood. Black single motherhood is often unfairly associated with producing disrespectful children, being unable to raise a son, and simply being inadequate to a two-parent household. Not only is this blatantly false, but it is also based on the idea that women are inferior, that Black women are inferior. Black women are more than capable of raising children alone, and numerous Black single mothers challenge this negative notion each day.
To the Black community: Acknowledge that Black single mothers are superheroes. These women go above and beyond to ensure the success of their children and work to support those around them before supporting themselves. Let this be a reminder to check in on the Black single mothers in your life and affirm them.
To Black single moms: You are incredible. You are strong, resilient, intelligent, and beautiful. Your unwavering strength shines within your children. You are enough. You consistently do the best that you can and that is enough. Take care of yourself.
To my black single mom: Thank You. For teaching me self love, loving me, and raising me. You are my light. You are everything. I will always be your Jada Girl.
Featured Image by @DestinyDarcel on Instagram