If you haven’t seen her, WATCH NOW. I’ll wait.
Pick your edges off the floor and keep reading.
Growing up, one of my biggest fears was getting pregnant. I wasn’t afraid of the pain or stress my body would endure. I wasn’t afraid of bringing another life into the world that would depend on me 24/7. I was afraid of the shame that my family and society placed on unplanned, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, more specifically, the shame placed on black girls who get pregnant at a young age. I had these fears despite not even being sexually active. That’s how bad it is.
Teen Mom, while riddled with class issues, somewhat humanized the experience of teenage pregnancy for young white girls. Not so much for black girls: for us, the stereotype of a young single mother as depicted through film and television does not always end in a happy ending. Definitely doesn’t end in a TV show that helps document the experience and comes with a nice pay check.
Black women and white women experience pregnancy much differently:
- Married black women are twice as likely to struggle with infertility than married white women (The Atlantic).
- America has a history of stripping black bodies of their autonomy and rights. Black women’s bodies have historically been used as commodities and hypersexualized. Killing the Black Body by Dorothy Roberts goes in depth on the history of manipulation and restriction of black women’s reproductive rights in America. Roberts addresses the discrepancies between white women’s and black women’s experience in excerpt from an interview with Ms. Magazine in 1999:
“In contemporary America there is a prevalent belief that poor black women shouldn’t have children. And that their having children is the cause of black people’s problems, well, indeed, of America’s problems. I think for a long time the denigration of black women’s reproduction was just ignored by mainstream feminists because they had the image of the white mother in mind.”
- A study on over 300,000 pregnant women from 2005 to 2009 found that pregnancy did not make black women any more or less happy (TIME). However, the outcomes for non-black women were strikingly different:
“Both white and Hispanic women reported enjoying more attention and help from their family and community while expecting, while black women actually reported receiving less support from others compared to black women who weren’t pregnant.”
From slavery to tropes of the jezebel, mammy, negligent mother and welfare queen, black motherhood has very rarely ever been viewed in a positive manner.
Black women who are pregnant need to know that they are loved and cared for. They need to know that what their body is doing is amazing. This is why Beyoncé’s pregnancy love matters.
She is glowing and caressing her belly for the whole world to see. Unabashed, unashamed, and proudly taking her corny Sears reveal photos. Yeah, I saw her pregnancy pictures and yes they were a little corny, but how many other women have corny-ass pregnancy announcement photos? How many women even have the opportunity to celebrate their ability to give birth? How many black women get to be happy about their pregnancies no matter the circumstance or situation?
When I checked the comment sections or Twitter and saw the reaction to Beyonce’s Grammy performance, I saw a lot of bitter, angry white people claiming that Beyonce isn’t that great, that her flaunting her pregnancy was extra, and that her dressing as a queen was extra and ridiculous.
FIRST OF ALL:
How racist do you have to be that a black woman who is shining and doesn’t fit your stereotypes of black people upsets you? How racist do you have to be that a black woman who is happily married and joyful about being pregnant instead of exemplifying all the negative stereotypes surrounding black women, black love, and black pregnancy pisses you off? How racist do you have to be that a black woman embodying royalty and a symbol of divinity makes you say that she ain’t all that?
Pretty fucking racist is the answer.
We are so accustomed to seeing black women suffer that seeing a black woman shine, being praised and proud of herself, actually pisses people off. At this point, I love angry racist white people trying to claim that Beyonce isn’t talented (#alternativefacts).
Black women deserve to be just as corny with their pregnancies. Black women should be allowed to drape themselves in gold and yellow fabric and pose with their mother and child looking regal. They deserve to embody their pregnancy as boldly as they want because CARRYING LIFE IN YOUR BODY IS LITERAL BLACK GIRL MAGIC.
But there is nothing corny about Beyonce referencing the Yoruba Goddess Oshun in her maternity shoot or Grammy performance. It’s called culture. Find some.
I found Beyonce’s performance inspiring because for years I carried this fear of how I would be treated or judged if I were to have an unplanned pregnancy. She is helping redefine the image of black motherhood and turning it into something positive. I have since unpacked that and decided that when/if I ever get pregnant, I’m gonna take some bomb-ass, bougie photos. I might even do the little baby timbs photo announcement. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I’m pregnant but I do know that I will be happy.