Saturday, June 18, 2005

Baby Mamas are not new anywhere in the Americas

Everybody's talking about Fantasia's song, Baby Mama. Some are dissing and some are supporting. I've said it before and continue to say: Throughout the Americas if we people of African descent did not have families headed by Black women, we would have no families at all. Unfortunately that would be welcome news in some quarters. Relate to this: The first time I heard the term "baby mother" was in Kingston, Jamaica in 1977 - not in the US in 2005. Jamaicans would say "give the baby mama a seat [on the bus]." Jamaica, West Indies, is not the only part of the African Diaspora that practices this form of gender civility. And almost no one - today that is - is encouraging Black or other very young women to have children. But through most of the history of the US and the Americas since 1492 the opposite has been true. Men such as Thomas Jefferson, deceased South Carolina US senator Strom Thurmond, and tens of thousands of others created baby mothers. What has happened to the rare white guy who's tried to raise his voice in dissent? In the late 1950s, in an "infamous" (read: inspired and with guts) yet not widely enough known speech on the floor of the state legislature in Baton Rouge, Earl Long, then-governor of Louisiana, put his white male state legislature colleagues on notice that they needed to "leave nigra women alone [meaning Black American women]." I believe I recall those were some of his exact words. Thus Earl Long - of the legendary Louisiana political family and governor of that Deep South state - entered Gender History for trying very publicly to discuss and discourage white men's exploitation of Black women. Not only were some of those women 'baby mothers', some probably were mothers to babies fathered by those same men. The day after Gov. Long's "Leave nigra women alone" speech he was carted away to a Texas sanitorium (formerly called "insane asylum"). That chapter of US oratorical history is documented, including a morning-after article in the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate newspaper (May 1958 or 59). Black women and girls were and in many places still are *objectified for sex and work, and *objectified for early and repeated reproduction of the labour force of enslaved human beings. Today a young Black, adult woman named Fantasia has asserted herself and chosen to give herself and her sisters internationally a public hug. Her song, Baby Mama, embraces the generations and centuries of work, sacrifice, sexual abuse and forced silence so many of our Black Mothers have endured, so while some may disagree, don't try to shut us up now. There is no shortage of gender hate in this world, and in the Americas - north, south, central and Caribbean - tens of millions of adolescent and older Black females have been and are Baby Mothers. Celia - who was enslaved and executed in Missouri was a baby mother. She was enslaved from birth, purchased for sex at 14 years old by a white Missouri farmer named Robert Newsom, held isolated and a virtual prisoner on his farm, made pregnant at least 3 times, young mother of 2 small babies, Celia was hanged at 19 for killing Robert Newsom when he wouldn't stop raping her. In his book Celia: A Slave, historian Melton McLaurin points out that no one seems to know what became of Celia's children nor the outcome of her third pregnancy. Read the full version of this @ Marian's Blog


Anonymous Rev Steve said...

That is really sad what happened to Celia. Hate and prejudice is always sad and ugly. If people would be more loving and tolerant the world would be so much better.

Rev. Steve

Saturday, June 18, 2005 8:38:00 PM  

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