According to the Grio, stay-at-home moms were forced into the spotlight after a Democratic strategist remarked that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s wife had “actually never worked a day in her life.” Her comment sparked “the mommy wars,” between working and stay-at-home moms across the nation. While no one can argue that being a mom in general is hard work, Kuae Mattox, the president of a support group for mothers who decided not to work full-time, says “the mommy wars” are a battle black women have chosen not to take on.
“We don’t see the mommy wars as our wars – we have friends, mothers and aunts who all worked,” Mattox, a Columbia University master’s graduate and stay-at-home mom said to the Grio. “It would be hypocritical of us to disparage people who worked and to tell people what to do – you have to decide what’s best for you and your family.”
While Mattox has chosen to be a stay-at-home mom and helps to support other women like her, black women are half as likely to be stay-at home moms compared to white women. In fact, stay-at-home motherhood has historically never been an option for African American women.
Rose M. Kreider and Diana B. Elliet, note this in their report titled “Historical Changes in Stay-at-Home Mothers: 1969 to 2009.” Their report states that “there is evidence that married black women have always been employed outside of the house in large numbers…” (Landry 2000) …”Even black mothers with young children were in the work force following World War II, when many of their white counterparts had withdrawn from the labor force” (Thistle 2006).
In addition, single motherhood is high in the black community. A Pew Research report observes that 72 percent of black children are born out of wedlock, and black children are three times as likely to live with one parent compared to white children. Even for children born in two parent homes, these days black women have a better chance at getting a job than black men. Black women have an unemployment rate of 12.3 percent compared to the 13.8 percent of black men.
“The woman’s not going to be the one to stop working and stay home,” University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Camille Charles said to the Grio. “She might be the bigger earner. And as long as marriage and divorce rates are the way that they are now, and other contentious things in the black community, I don’t think women are going to feel secure in giving up their careers.”