Posted on February 05 2017
Blessed Be Beyoncé By Nia Hampton
On the first day of Black History Month, Beyoncé gave to me, an announcement that she is currently gestating two twin babies in her womb! Like the rest of world, I was surprised and happy, not only because the announcement photo was gorgeous but because this year has been overtaken by El Cheeto and the near complete collapse of government in the United States. I’ve taken a break from social media just to get away from all the news. Everyday there’s a new law being appealed or a new group of people being turned away at the airport. As a black woman from Baltimore City, suffering at the hands of the government isn’t anything new to me. But to see it so widely televised because it’s finally not just black people being persecuted is tiring. Luckily, Beyoncé decided to pour some honey on our timelines by unveiling the gifts that she’s bringing into the world and I am so happy that the media has something positive to talk about!
I’m still undecided if I want to have children myself. At 25, I find myself in between two different worlds. I have friends with toddlers, friends who are due in a few months and friends who are researching alternative methods of birth control and abortions. To be a woman in today’s world is to be someone with a lot of choices. I remember the strong urge of wanting to have children in 2012 when the movements against police brutality started to take off. I think I saw having children, especially black children in a world that was so set on killing them, as an act of resistance. And it is. Especially as a black woman in the Americas, where historically your children were not your own. They belonged to whoever you belonged to. You couldn’t nurse your own children; you were too busy giving the milk made for them to the white children of the white slave master. Once your children were old enough to stand they were old enough to work. This stark reality made enslaved women think of abortion as the more humane alternative to giving birth. Fast forward to when slavery ends, and black people are suddenly “the negro problem” meaning no longer free labor and now an inconvenience to the country they built and suddenly black women are having too many children.
While traditional (read: white) feminists were trying to disassociate themselves from “motherhood” once again black women are too busy working multiple jobs to enjoy being mothers as they are most usually employees first. Planned Parenthood despite all of the wonderful services it provides women has a complex history with the black community as it’s founder Margaret Sanger has been accused of supporting eugenics as a potential solution to the “negro problem” through it’s abortion services. Whether Sanger has been historically misquoted and misunderstood is still up for debate, but we know the reality of being a black mother in America has always been complicated. Welfare queen, single mother, slut, these are some of the ways in which people have historically viewed black women who dare to become mothers. But Beyoncé’s narrative is different.
Primarily because she is Beyoncé, a literal standard of beauty, drama free, wealthy and married she fits an acceptable idea of what motherhood should look like. In fact, her becoming a mother later in life while managing a successful career makes her an even more “ideal” woman. She appears perfect, almost over achieving. Interestingly enough, had Beyoncé not released the news of her pregnancy during Black History Month as Donald Trump is actively pushing our country into regression, her announcement might have been received differently. It may have seemed too perfect, too staged, much like what people have said about Beyoncé since the beginning. But timing is everything. And Beyoncé’s children will be seen as balms for an especially rough time in history. As so will every other announcement of child birth during these unstable times. Toni Morrison had really wonderful and insightful things to say about motherhood, and I’ll end this post with a passage from her book, “Toni Morrison and Motherhood: A Politics of the Heart”
“There was something so valuable about what happened when one became a mother. For me it was the most liberating thing that ever happened to me. Liberating because the demands that children make are not the demands of a normal ‘other.’ The children’s demands on me were things that nobody ever asked me to do. To be a good manager. To have a sense of humor. To deliver something that somebody could use. And they were not interested in all the things that other people were interested in, like what I was wearing or if I were sensual. Somehow all of the baggage that I had accumulated as a person about what was valuable just fell away. I could not only be me—whatever that was—but somebody actually needed me to be that. If you listen to [your children], somehow you are able to free yourself from baggage and vanity and all sorts of things, and deliver a better self, one that you like. The person that was in me that I liked best was the one my children seemed to want.”
We wish all the best to Beyoncé and her family as they await their new additions!
Graphic By Sophia-Gach Rasool.