Quite a few things appear to be wrong with the movie What to Expect When You're Expecting: It looks stupid, it seems cliché-laden, it's based on a self-help book. But perhaps worst of all, Kimberly Seals Allers writes for the New York Times' Motherlode section, it excludes the representation of African-American motherhood.
What to Expect presents a smattering of women dealing with pregnancy issues: The older woman, the younger woman, the woman who finds being knocked up a breeze and the woman who finds gestating very trying. Although Chris Rock makes an appearance as a father, Jennifer Lopez is the sole woman of color. No black mom. (And of course no Asian mom.)
If Walter Lippmann is correct is saying that how we come to understand the world is a function of the "pictures in our heads" and that the media play a crucial role in the formation of these images, then African-American mothers have a serious problem.
Because the "pictures in our heads" of black mothers depict them as crack heads, single mothers with deadbeat-dad issues, welfare queens, violent, uneducated or as neck-rolling sassy maids and smart-talking fishwives. Alternatively, we are being portrayed by a man. In a fat suit. And a wig.
This reality is all the more frustrating when you think of what American audiences were watching about 20-20 years ago: The Cosby Show, Family Matters, Good Times. Many of us grew up watching black moms on TV, only to find that there are no contemporary versions of Clair Huxtable or Florida Evans.
As Allers notes:
Even with a highly educated, modern black woman who is a self-described "mom in chief" serving as the First Lady, black women are not included in any of the mainstream mommy dialogue in this country - which is dominated by white and affluent voices. We aren't seen as thinkers in this mommy movement, women with an important perspective in shaping the future of, say, maternity leave and child-care issues. Nor is our journey in motherhood and middle-class angst and bliss told in cutesy books or on network sitcoms about modern family.
Hollywood to Black Mothers: Stay Home [NY Times Motherlode]