Black women have never been respected by the forces of power. During chattel slavery, pregnant Black women worked in the fields on plantations up until their labor began. Afterward, they were seldom given a chance to rest, heal and bond with their babies.
Soon after birth, women were required to go back to the field, with their baby strapped on their backs or lying nearby, if they hadn’t been sold right out of their arms.
Enslaved women and their newborns were often traumatically separated at the will of the plantation owner. Pregnancy also did not exempt enslaved women from the physical violence of overseers and plantation owners. In Dorothy Roberts’ bookKilling the Black Body: Race, Reproduction and the Meaning of Liberty, she explains a method of whipping pregnant slaves: “Slaveholders forced women to lie face down in a depression in the ground while they were whipped.” Continue reading