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Mothers, Children, and Dollar Signs

A widely acknowledged fact is the exploitation of black women’s reproductive labor during slavery.  Enslaved black women were often raped in part to satisfy the sexual desires of slave owners, but it was also done, in large part, to create additional laborers for the support of the slave economy.

slavesale

Credit: National Humanities Center

 The children of enslaved black women were often separated from their mothers and sold off to work on plantations.  The ages at which children were sold off to work on other plantations often varied from plantation to plantation.  Needless to say, many mothers never saw their children again.  All for profit and material gain.

Fast forward to the 20th Century and the separation of black mothers and children continued to be a source of revenue generation.  With a renewed focus on welfare reform and a determination to significantly reduce what many perceived to be entitlements, federal legislation was enacted to terminate parental rights and expeditiously place children, who were determined to be in an unsafe environment, in foster care.  To be clear, such action was not a result of pure altruism on behalf of state and government entities.  Instead, the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 facilitated federal incentives to state agencies for the expedient removal, parental termination, and placement of children in foster care.  Unfortunately, the application of the legislation has not been exactly colorblind.  It has been documented and revealed that black children, in comparison to white children, are disproportionately removed from their homes.  This remains true even when white children experience the same issues as black children within their homes.  Simply put, efforts are made to keep white families united while black families are dissected – and dollars are pocketed. (more…)

Heroin Hypocrisy

heroin-use-white-parents-drug-warRecent local news reports in the Washington, DC metropolitan area have focused on the current heroin epidemic within the suburban and rural areas. Notably, the stretch of highway leading from West Virginia to Baltimore, Maryland is where the greatest focus is directed. In fact, many have dubbed this stretch of highway the “Heroin Highway.” Law enforcement, public health, and other government officials have selected this label, as they allege that it is along this highway that many people often travel to Baltimore to purchase heroin and then return to their homes in the suburban and rural areas of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

It should be noted that the current focus on heroin usage in suburban and rural Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia is not exclusive to those areas. An editorial printed in the New York Times not too long ago also discussed the current increase in heroin usage. The editorial, however, particularly examined the change in the tone of the narrative surrounding heroin usage. Specifically, in the past, when heroin was perceived as a drug of the inner city, heroin dealers and users were often referred to and/or discussed in much harsher tones. (more…)

A Few Suggestions for Mr. West’s “Enthusiasm”

By now, everyone has heard about Kanye West’s most recent rant after the 2015 Grammy’s.  To provide a brief summary, Mr. West expressed frustration with Beyonce’s loss to Beck for Album of the Year.  Initially, I thought to myself, “Can you please stop perpetuating the ‘angry black man’ stereotype?!”

K West and Beck at Grammys

Image from hollywoodlife.com

However, I eventually acknowledged my own hypocrisy.  On numerous occasions, I have said to my students, “it’s okay to be angry.”  As a caveat, however, I always follow up that statement with, “as long as you direct that anger into something positive.”  Accordingly, I am asking Mr. West to channel his frustration into something that would be of benefit to the collective good – and not just Beyonce’s trophy case.  So, here are a few other things that Mr. West could be angry about instead… (more…)