- Purchase/rental options available:
This article addresses the ways that society imagines parenthood and the child to be "sacred," "innocent," and "worth protecting" seemingly until it considers parents and children of color, in which case these bodies—and the bodies of children of color—are always already criminalized. Personal experiences and the lived experiences of others frame this analysis and address questions surrounding the general American expectation of motherhood as marked by white feminine performance. To this end, the article engages contemporary national events in which the presence of the mother and child and the reciprocal love and support within the relationship was rendered invalid or inconsequential. It examines the police shooting of Philando Castile while in a car with his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year-old daughter, Dae'Anna; the police shooting of both Korryn Gaines—which resulted in her death—and her five-year-old son, Kodi; and the racialized claims of poor parenting lodged against Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, and Michael Brown's mother, Lezley McSpadden—claims which refuse the right to even their own victimization as a space for grief. Ultimately, public black motherhood and maternity disrupt racist narratives of absenteeism and the destruction of black familial connections and, as such, are constantly under attack as threats to the American investment in the racial hierarchy.