As a follow-up to The Viral Video, EBT: We Have Failed You Chapter…An Open Letter, I want to talk about a comment that I received frequently about Chapter’s character in the EBT video. Many people have emailed me saying that they agree with my blog, but that they also know black women who do those things. Those things . . . as if those things that they do are so vile that the actual act must not be named for fear of its appearance. Those things. What types of those things? Getting pregnant in order to qualify for general assistance?
It has been my experience as a mentor that when a young woman tells me she wants to have a baby it is because she wants someone—the baby or her boyfriend—to love her, and, of course, this rationale comes with its own set of consequences. But, my young mentee’s rationale is not far removed from why some single privileged or married privileged women decide to have babies. They too seek love or at least commitment from the men in their lives. The difference between my mentee and the privileged women is that their class privilege absolves them of blame.
I say all this to say that perhaps the reason why young women decide to have babies is not to “swindle” the government, but to secure that which all women are taught to desire in this society, what bell hooks refer to as the “male gaze.” And, the male gaze includes having the man’s baby or performing your feminine gender of being a mother. So, perhaps, the larger issue is not about “those things” single black girls do, but more about who they are doing those things for.