chapter  3
21 Pages

Shifting the Center: Race, Class, and Feminist Theorizing About Motherhood

WithPatricia Hill Collins

Motherhood occurs in specific historical situations framed by interlocking structures of race, class, and gender, where the sons and daughters of white mothers have 'every opportunity and protection', and the 'colored' daughters and sons of racial ethnic mothers 'know not their fate'. In this sense, feminist theorizing about motherhood has not been immune to the decontextualization of Western social thought overall. Centering feminist theorizing on the concerns of white, middle-class women leads to two problematic assumptions. The first is that a relative degree of economic security exists for mothers and their children. The second is that all women enjoy the racial privilege that allows them to see themselves primarily as individuals in search of personal autonomy, instead of members of racial ethnic groups struggling for power. Jessie de la Cruz, a Mexican-American migrant farm worker, experienced firsthand the struggle for empowerment facing racial ethnic women whose daily mother work centers on issues of survival.