PURPOSE

The purpose of Just Like Family is to examine the mythology of the “beloved” African American caretaker–to go beneath the stereotypes that lie at the foundation of most of our conversations about racial injustice and consider the themes of loss, confusion, anger, sadness as well as love and understanding in intimate bi-racial relationships.  There are so many accounts told by whites about the saintly domestic worker in their homes who loved them as much as they loved her.  One can also consider whether these feelings issued from genuine affection or was job security the goal of the special attentions and kindnesses some maids and caretakers paid to their wards. African Americian children whose mothers took care of white children must have had feelings of anger, sadness and loss and confusion when their mothers left for the white family’s home.  Did these mothers share incidents of shaming or abuse in their relationship with their eimployers with other members of their family?  Did their children overhear these stories and become distressed by this aspect of their mother’s life.  Even now, whites don’t hear the other side of story.  Were the gifts of hand-me-downs gratefully receieved or did they suggest a second class status for the recipient.  I am reminded of a story from my childhood about the status issues around clothings.  My older sister came home from school in the carpool and was crying.  She told me that they had driven past a black girl who had on the same coat that she had on and that the carpool chidlren had laughed at the black girl on the street as well as my sister in the car.  This was very confusing to me–that my sister would never wear that coat again because a black girl had had the same one on.   And did the black girl buy her coat or was it part of a hand-me-down pile of clothes.  And did she, after being laughed at by a group of white children in a carpool, never wear her coat again.  These are the types of complications, confusions and paradoxes that white and black children were trying to understand, with little opportunity to express feelings about particular incidences.

§ One Response to PURPOSE

  • moneybeez says:

    I love the way you think; nice to happen upon a kindred spirit, esp. when addressing these hard-to-stomach realities and questions.

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