What Beyonce’s Pregnancy Says about Single and Married Black Women

what beyonce's pregnancy says about black single mothers

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black World

Keli Goff at TheLoop21 recently wrote about the pregnancy announcement of Beyonce Knowles.  In her article, Goff argues that the announcement is a cause for celebration for the black family in America.  She makes the interesting and valid point that Beyonce and Jay-Z have positioned themselves as effective role models by strapping on the wedding bands before popping out the kiddies.   In Goff’s words:

“She is sending a message to girls everywhere, particularly girls of color who may feel like they don’t have a lot of options, that you can earn your own money, enter a relationship with a man because you want to not because you financially need to, and when he’s shown you he’s deserving, you can give him the privilege of making a lifetime commitment to you and then you will give him the gift of a child. Not only when you both feel ready to do it but when you know you’re both ready to be the best parents you can be.”

I love much of what Goff saying.  She is speaking against the popularity of shows like Basketball Wives, which features a bunch of catty, “ghetto” women who’ve never actually been wives at any point in their lives.  She also discusses the disturbing imagery being presented to young black girls (courtesy of BET and Vh-1), which teaches them that having a baby with a rapper, basketball player or “baller” is your ticket to success in life.   I’ve heard the stories of the women who spend their time scouring after one big shot after another – most of these stories are depressing tales of infidelity, venereal disease, bankruptcy and drama.  They tend to overlook all this on shows like “Basketball Wives.”

We can also consider what Beyonce’s pregnancy says about single black mothers who choose to pass up the wedding vows.  I’m not sure if Goff would agree, but it’s hard to argue that there’s anything wrong with a woman choosing to have a child without attaching a man to her decision.   Yes, you don’t have the second income in the household (hopefully, the non-custodial parent is paying child support), but given that half of all marriages end up in divorce, this says that at least half of the Americans who’ve gotten married should never have done so in the first place.

The bottom line is that children are in need of at least two things:  Love and stability.  If one parent gives a child the love and stable home that they need in order to grow into a healthy and whole human being, then we shouldn’t go thumping a bible over the person’s head.  A woman doesn’t need to have a man to be complete, most of us hopefully agree with that statement.  A parent with a solid plan is a good parent, no matter what people want to say about it.

Where I can see Goff’s point is that there is a fundamental need within the African American community for all of us to regain an appreciation for the idea of building and maintaining strong families.  Far too many marriages end because people are not committed to making them work, for many of us have grown up in the land of “Me Me Me.”  The words “Till death do us part” mean almost nothing at most marriage ceremonies and should be changed to “Till I grow tired of the monotony,” “Till we have a six-month period during which I believe that my needs aren’t being met,” or  “Till I get sick of yo black ass.”

We also see too many children growing up without access to both parents because one parent has made the selfish decision to imperialize the child-rearing process.  The joy of being the “hero parent” is often a selfish exercise designed to create an unhealthy codependency that marginalizes the non-custodial parent.  The easiest way to get a child to love you forever is to convince them that you are the only one who cares.

When I started college, I was there to finish.   Things didn’t always go right and I ran into several roadblocks along the way.  But because I was committed to getting to the finish line, I would find a way around my problems.  I was determined to see this thing through, no matter what, and quitting was simply not an option.  One could argue that marriage is similar to getting through a really long version of college, law school or medical school:  You can’t quit just because you are faced with a difficult test.  The “classroom of life” presents quite a few seemingly insurmountable challenges and I would argue that if you can’t stand the heat, you should just stay out of the kitchen.  Single-minded fascination with the romance of the wedding day leads to millions of Americans using marriage as a tool to ruin their lives.

The bottom line is that I could care less if Beyonce was married when she announced her pregnancy.  More important is whether or not she and Jay-Z (aka Shawn Carter) are going to be good parents.  If the answer to that question is “yes,” then we shouldn’t presume that two people being tied together for life is a prerequisite for being good parents.  It’s all about having the freedom of choice.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. 



Filed under african american professors, African American Scholars, African Americans, black professors, Black Scholars

18 responses to “What Beyonce’s Pregnancy Says about Single and Married Black Women

  1. Susie

    I grew up in an era where marriage was give and take. You really believed in those vows. Now a days when people wrote their vows still wasn’t enough.

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  4. I like this simple way of writing, makes for interesting and personal reading. I’m my part of the world we believe in ‘marry age’ but we refuse to believe in the ‘wedlock’ because the ‘wedding+lock’ was the creation of those who twisted our conscience, beliefs and perspective.
    My parents were forced to get married when my mother told my father she was pregnant, they married in November 1978, I was born June 5, 1979…they would be unhappiest people I have ever met. My father would prove to be a church goer without a tinge of conscience or God in his life. The point being Jesus was born out of wedlock but in ‘Marry’s Age’, our nation builder was called a water snake ‘ISHAKA'(born to the Princess Nandi of Elangeni, KwaZulu(The Sun in Heaven), what of Achilles, Haile Selasie, Bob Marley, Tupac Shakur…IT’S THE AMOUNT OF LOVE YOU GIVE TO THE CHILD THAT MAKES THEM INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. We are one and only LOVE will deliver us for God says ‘Restore your Kingdoms and you would have restored mine, for I rule through your Kingdoms’…this promise has been taken and twisted by those with ‘dark hearts’ and they brand us with ‘dark skins’ as ‘terrorists’,’see BlackPanther, Azapo, Pac and other Eastern people who demand freedom from democracy. See the idea of ‘National Security’ over-ride the idea of Earth security…….

    We believe that our revelation is legit although we are uneducated and unheard of. We believe also that the kingdom of heaven (umbuso weZulu) will come in 2020 after the ‘New Clear War’ that politicians(who are using ‘snake cunningness’ as ‘Wisdom’ will bring an Earth shaking catastrophe, not the END but REBIRTH(rebuild+earth=REB’IRTH).

    That said we watch closely the events in America for we had hoped that our brothers and sisters would at least hear our story even though we walk the earth naked and barefeet. We are said that globally there seem to be African people who take the Christian, Islam, Political, Democractic intepretation of the Revelation and refuse the more profound Revelation (namely the Zulu, Mayan, Mongol, Rastafarian…) Its a sad thing to see your blood relatives stand in a way of harm and refuse to take the warning just because you leave in a mudhut…I wish we could listen to each other more, and not ask ‘which university did you go to, which book did you read, or who told you that’…we must return to ourselves. I do not believe in discussing artists only their work. Beyonce is not part of my music collection so I don’t know much I listen to Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Kanye West, Jay Z, Chrisette Michelle, Talib Kweli, Tupac, Bob Marley, Damian and Stephen Marley.

  5. Pingback: What Does Beyonce’s Pregnancy Say about the “Baby Mama” Phenomenon? « Black Women Today

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  7. Good for you B…way to go and CONGRATS to you a Jay-Z

  8. Sis Cookie

    I am happy for Beyonce and Jay-Z. She has a lot of talent and now she is going to be a mother. You Go Girl!!!

  9. When I first heard about B’s pregnancy I never thought beyond being happy for something she and Jay-Z want, but then I started reading postings about the positive image it presents and I fully agree. It is healthy to see a high profile African American couple who are successful, value their relationship by not publicizing every detail and now are on their way to starting a family. Call me old fashioned but that is the world I and my friends grew up in and I don’t think it would be bad for all of us to go back to meeting and knowing someone before just randomly hooking up and heaven forbid popping kids with some loser who will never be a true parent. Girls should value themselves and worked towards having a healthy productive stable life before having kids. Men come and go but a child needs stability forever. I am not putting down single mothers and things happen. I personally know a couple of women never married who have raised college educated kids but they focused on being a good mother and not latching on to the next no body. I hope this image of Beyonce really resonates with young girls because they are subjected to all kinds of negative images in the media. Of course the best role model always starts in the home.

  10. Quastarcella Borom

    I think it is a very good example as a wife and mother of five; I talk to my children often about how marriage then children is the ideal way that a family begins.However, I do not knock those who choose to do it differently. I think that it ultimately boils down to two responsible adults who wish to raise good and productive children together.

  11. Andrea

    I believe in doing it God’s way! And that is two people who love and respect each other enter into a covenant agreement (marriage) who then decide to raise a family together. When we do it the way God intended for it to be, it just works out better! My husband and I have been married for 18 years and have a beautiful and happy 12 year old daughter. We have always believed that divorce is not an option and that we will always work out anything that comes our way! We love and respect each other! We have each other’s back! We work together! We are partners! You can’t be selfish and have a successful marriage! Marriage is a give and take! We don’t take each other for granted! When he’s down, I’m there to lift him up and when I’m down, he is there to lift me up! But most importantly, we put God first in our lives and we stay prayerful about everything! God bless all of you who are in a marriage and those considering marriage!

  12. Lo

    Love you Bey ! Love you Jaye…wish you the very best!

  13. Samuel

    I agree fully of the impact of this couple. Legally its done proper, financially, socially and they are being the marriage right. I didnt learn until after that I was in the wrong, even if the marriage doesn’t last and god forbid but at least they had a plan on their future. Both live the single life and understand fully of the music industry and hopefully they will do more toward building a better black image and national black community. They are black first being rich is secondary a lot of our stars and leaders forget that. What a shame. Peace good post.

  14. DocV

    I am very disappointed with Dr. Boyce’s “bottom line” that (paraphrasing) he doesn’t care about marriage only that the child is taken care of. This lackadaisical stance (especially coming from scholars) has gotten us into the “Maury Povich” reality of where we are today.

    The other comment that I am disappointed about is “A woman doesn’t need to have a man to be complete, most of us hopefully agree with that statement.” This statement demeans and devalues the worth of men in our society. There is a level of “interdependence” that we all need from each other. A “woman” may not need a man to complete her, but a child is a different story.

    We should strive for the ideal of marriage and not give up the war before beginning to fight. However when it can’t or doesn’t work out between the mother and father, then keeping the child’s best interest at heart must be the goal.

  15. No it won’t. The single mother in the Black communities will continue. There’s no benefit to being married. If you can get the same child support as a married woman although single, then there’s no reason to marry.

  16. Eileena

    Beyonce states that both her father and mother kept her grounded in her decisions in life, enough said.

  17. She dosent set anyexample for me, sorry she still just a person I had seen plenty do it before and after them i dont need her to make a trend of it . im am very sick of people looking up to her as a god or something . I know you are going to come at me calling me a hater and im broke, bla ,bla, bla, but it still wont change antthing. even if u do get married its still the ratting of divorces and abuse and infidelity . so just becasue she protrays her life as a “good Role model i still object of her sending a messege to the black community. the hell with her and Jay z they are part of the reasons the “black community is in a Nutshell now.

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