The Policing of Black Parenting

Among all of the works that we discussed in class last Wednesday, the one that stood out to me most was the article “Motherhood” from the Feminist Wire. Until reading that article, I, like the author Shannon J. Miller, had forgotten how rampant the policing of black parents is. The surveillance and suspension that the two mothers endured appalled me though it should not have, especially in light of the differential treatment of mothers in the Clouser and Taylor case. In 2014, a white woman from Arizona named Catalina Clouser got high and drove 12 miles with her 2-month-old baby in a car seat on top of the car roof. She eventually realized that her baby was not in the car, but only after her baby fell off of the roof of the car and into oncoming traffic on a highway. During this same year, another black woman from Arizona named Shanesha Taylor left her 2-year-old and 8-month-old son in the car during a job interview because she was unable to find childcare. Like Clouser, her children were not harmed. Needless to say, both women were negligent and put their children in danger, but Taylor’s seems more justified. However, her justification is not reflected in the initial sentencing. While Taylor’s plea agreement called for 10 years of probation, parenting classes, and restitution, Clouser’s agreement called for 16 years of probation with no strings attached.

The differential treatment between the two women and the “need” for parenting classes and restitution only for Taylor stems from the myth that black women are incompetent, money-hungry mothers. As restitution is money to recompense for injury or loss, the fact that the initial plea agreement called for Taylor to pay restitution suggests that her children were harmed and that only Taylor committed a wrongdoing. As a result of the policing of black parenting, higher numbers of black children are placed in foster and adoptive homes under the supervision of parents who, oftentimes, cannot provide children with the skills that they need to survive as a black person and to understand and be proud of their heritage, as Perry notes in “Transracial Adoption.” I sometimes worry about the future of the children that I someday wish to have, but hope that the policing of black parents will be less prevalent then.

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