Beyoncé’s out front with new twins. A pregnant Serena Williams is nude on the cover of Vanity Fair. We’ll look at American images of black motherhood.
African-American mothers had a hard start on this continent. Enslaved, abused and often separated from their own children. And still, they mothered on. Lately, there are dramatic new images of black motherhood front and center in this country. Tennis great Serena Williams, pregnant, nude and boldly glowing on the cover of Vanity Fair. Superstar Beyoncé, resplendent with twins on Instagram. This hour On Point: old and new images of black motherhood in America. — Tom Ashbrook
Cheryl Rodriguez, director of the Institute on Black Life at the University of South Florida. Mother of four daughters.
From Tom’s Reading List
NPR: Beyoncé Is Not The Magical Negro Mammy — “Beyoncé’s ethereal, multimedia celebration of pregnancy in her Grammy Awards performance of ‘Love Drought’ and ‘Sandcastles’ was nothing less than stunning: With airy yellow goddess robes floating about her crowned head and her baby, Blue Ivy, joyfully prancing and giggling around her bare, pregnant belly, she created a powerful, dramatic piece of art, an exultant narrative for black motherhood.”
New York Times: I Was a Teenage Mother — “At 15, I was a good student and determined to apply to college. But after I had my daughter, my high school guidance counselor refused to see me and help me with my applications. She never expected me to graduate. Most people, even within my family, assumed I wouldn’t amount to anything and would be dependent on government assistance for the rest of my life.”
Romper: Serena Williams’ Nude Pregnancy Photos Are A Joyful Celebration Of Black Motherhood — “Yet Williams’ Vanity Fair photos are significant: by posing nude while pregnant, she’s disrupting the whiteness of the celebrity nude maternity photo shoot trope by turning the camera’s gaze on her black pregnant body. It’s a move reminiscent of her friend Beyoncé’s pregnancy announcement, which was also hailed as a powerful symbol of black motherhood. Williams’ photo shoot is an effort to link the beauty of pregnancy with blackness, something that has eluded black women from the beginning of time.”