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San Diego State University

Faculty-Student Mentoring Program

Antwanisha Alameen-Shavers, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor in the Department of Africana Studies


The research that I am currently conducting addresses the systemic pathologization of African American motherhood in the United States. During the enslavement period, enslaved African women did not have autonomy over their bodies and their ability to have children was only given value because of its economic benefit to the planter’s class. After enslavement, Black women continued to face vicious oppression as mothers; from forced sterilization, higher incarceration rates, and higher incidents of child removal as compared to their white female counter parts. Additionally, there has been high profile cases in which Black mothers were incarcerated for offenses that are questionable at best. For example, Marissa Alexander was imprisoned in the state of Florida for firing warning shots to scare away her abusive and dangerous former boyfriend. What makes this case problematic is that Alexander had received threats from her former partner and was attempting to exercise her right to protect herself and her children in a state that has “stand your ground” laws in place. It is my contention that it is nearly impossible for Black mothers to be treated fairly under the law or under other forms of social policy because of people’ ingrained perceptions of Black mothers. Subsequently, they are less likely to be shown any compassion because historically their roles as mothers has been systematically attacked and deemed invaluable. Stereotypical images such as the Black matriarch, the crack mother, and the welfare queen have contributed to the distorted view the many US citizens hold about Black women, particularly their roles as mothers. My research is currently in the preliminary stages and I am working towards creating a survey to access people' s current on Black mothers. My student mentees will help gather more material and literature on this topic. They also will help me to create and administer a survey on the attitudes that people hold about Black mothers today. The goal of my specific Faculty mentor program is to teach students how to conduct research in the Humanities/Social Science fields by walking them through the phases of my research. I believe that this is the most practical way of teaching students the ebbs and flows of conducting research. Students will be chosen to participate in the program based on their interest in related research topics, methods and/or methodologies. As a result of such exclusive selection, it is likely that the students’ fresh perspectives and related research topics can only enhance my personal research project.

 

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Antwanisha Alameen Shavers

Race, Motherhood, and Oppression Brochure

Race, Motherhood, and Oppression Brochure