The longstanding idea of the “strong Black woman” minimizes the softer side of Black mothering. Karen Craddock, Ph.D., visiting scholar at WCW, and her colleague Marva L. Lewis, Ph.D., explore this idea in a chapter of the Routledge Companion to Motherhood, which was published in 2019.
“We discuss the longstanding schema of a ‘strong Black woman’ that often obscures the gentle and more vulnerable side of Black mothering and minimizes the mental health needs of Black mothers and their need for emotional, physical, or monetary support,” write Craddock and Lewis about the chapter.
In the chapter, “Mothering While Black: Strengths and Vulnerabilities in a Sociopolitical Racial Context of Structural Inequality,” Craddock and Lewis discuss the many sides of Black motherhood and Black mothers’ physical and mental health needs within a framework of structural racism. Craddock and Lewis look at racial disparities and disproportionalities faced by Black mothers that are based on stereotypes and implicit biases, which Craddock and Lewis argue are unresolved legacies of the historical trauma of slavery.
The chapter concludes with an examination of racial socialization, protective nurturing, and adaptive parenting practices that lead “to resilience in young children to survive in a hostile, racially stratified society,” write Craddock and Lewis.