Quick Hit: On White Women Who Want Beyoncé to be their “Mommy”

So now that some of the dust has settled on the Adele-Beyoncé Grammy shakeup, here’s a great analysis on the situation from Denene Millner at NPR’s Codeswitch. If you feel that there have been so many thinkpieces about Beyoncé there is no fresh insight left, read this one, ’cause it offers some.

Millner takes apart Adele’s (and later, Faith Hill’s) comment that they want Beyoncé to be their “mommy” (which Millner notes is bizarre since they’re both grown-ass women). Millner contextualizes this comment within white supremacist culture’s pathologization of black mothers and the material and historical factors—from slavery to contemporary low-wage labor—that force black women to do the labor of mothering for everyone but their own children.

Black women and other women of color are forced to mother white women’s children as nannies, and also to mother white women themselves as free emotional laborers—a bullshit state of affairs that underlies some of the white-woman fixation on Beyoncé as mother goddess:

We are done being moral mothers to grown men and women who shun their responsibility for their complicity or silence in abhorrent injustice. No black woman, Beyoncé or anyone, should have to coddle a grown person who seeks reassurance that it’s OK to invest in and perpetuate their own privilege while the person doing the comforting suffers for it…

How incredibly odd and outrageous, then, for two white women, intelligent enough to understand America’s volatile relationship with black motherhood… and pronounce they want her to mother them.

It’s an important read in light of the ongoing white/liberal feminist lean-in rhetoric, which pits white and wealthy women’s success implicitly against the under-compensated labor of the brown, black, and poor women. And it’s especially important now as we seek to form movements against Trump which are broad-based and coalitional, but which don’t run on the extracted physical and emotional labor of the most marginalized.

Take away for white women in movements: History is really hard to face! Beyoncé is not going to sweep in and make that easier. It’s a long process of accountability which must be undertaken forever and earnestly, and we are grownups who have a responsibility to deal with it.

Check out Millner’s article here.

Reina Gattuso is passionate about empowering conversations around queerness, sexual ethics, and social movements with equal parts rhapsody and sass. Her writing has appeared at Time, Bitch, attn:, and The Washington Post. She is currently pursuing her masters.

Reina Gattuso writes about her sex life for the good of human kind.

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