The Ethos of Black Motherhood in America: Only White Women Get Pregnant examines the ethos of Black and white mothers in America's racialized society. Kimberly C. Harper argues that the current Black maternal health crisis is not a new one, but an existing one rooted in the disregard for Black wombs dating back to America's history with chattel slavery. Examining the reproductive laws that controlled the reproductive experiences of black women, Harper provides a fresh insight into the “bad black mother” trope that Black feminist scholars have theorized and argues that the controlling images of black motherhood are a creation of the American nation-state. In addition to a discussion of black motherhood, Harper also explores the image of white motherhood as the center of the landscape of motherhood. Scholars of communication, gender studies, women’s studies, history, and race studies will find this book particularly useful.
Kimberly C. Harper is assistant professor and associate chair of English and director of technical writing at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
Chapter 1: Historical Representations of Black Motherhood
Chapter 2: Setting the Tone
Chapter 3: The Legislative Decisions Governing Black Wombs
Chapter 4: Ideology, Ethos, and Silence
Chapter 5: Where are all the Black Mothers in Pregnancy Books?
Chapter 6: Reproductive Justice and Black Women’s Lives
Chapter 7: Black Midwives & Reclaiming Choice
Chapter 8: The Will to Resist is a Form of Love
About the Author
Kimberly C. Harper’s The Ethos of Black Mothers in America is an essential study in the history and rhetoric of Black women’s maternal health care. Harper shows how racist ideology has been rhetorically constructed in White political philosophy, legal decisions, and legislation. Further, she reveals the ways in which Black women have been silenced or unheard, unrepresented, or misrepresented in medical training and in popular pregnancy books. Harper opens a new domain for health communication, for feminist and womanist studies, and for social and racial justice research and education in the rhetoric and technical communication field.
Kimberly C. Harper illustrates how her own personal experiences motivated this much-needed exposé of the problems black women face in their medical care. Her book provides valuable information for scholars of rhetoric and discourse analysis, medical professionals, and reproductive justice activists; and in the conclusion, she posits that the subject of black women and health care requires much more scholarly exploration.
Dr. Kimberly Harper’s The Ethos of Black Motherhood in America: Only White Women Get Pregnant resonates loudly with components of America’s #BlackLivesMatter. Harper’s poignant words offer a reminder that living while Black in America has always been a challenge as she considers what many images, publications and media have neglected, the Black Woman as Black Mother. This text offers Harper’s candid, subjective perspective from her own personal experiences as a Black mother in America. She validates the Black mother as worthy, but also as seen. Not since Patricia Hill Collins’ Black Feminist Thought has a book defiantly explored this overlooked content matter. Harper recognizes the castigation of Black women, especially in their intentional exclusion from pregnancy publications; further she seeks to interrogate the causes for the absence of Black mothers as she explores existing maternal health publications as well as the media which promotes this scholarship. Harper posits that while many health experts don’t recognize the impact of inclusionary media, simultaneously they neglect the narrative of others maternal experiences like those of Black Mothers. Her research insists all readers see the absence of Black mothers, acknowledge it, and demand they listen to those who have historically been omitted from this maternal discourse narrative. The Ethos of Black Motherhood in America: Only White Women Get Pregnant is a must-read for any audience, but especially those who don’t realize that more than just white women get pregnant, but also Black Women too.