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Health in the CityRace, Poverty, and the Negotiation of Women's Health in New York City, 1915-1930$
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Tanya Hart

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479867998

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479867998.001.0001

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Culture in the City

Culture in the City

(p.108) 4 Culture in the City
Health in the City

Tanya Hart

NYU Press

This chapter presents Frances Ellen Watkins Harper's speech on black mothering for Brooklyn women, and incorporates popular cultural artifacts—work and blues songs, poetry, folklore, and short stories—to elicit cross-class perspectives of black womanhood from African American and British West Indian men and women in each particular group. Harper conflates the status of womanhood moving into motherhood as an eventuality. Moreover, she warned mothers to train their daughters and sons against the perils of sex outside of wedlock so that the home, through marriage, would become the “crown” of black female motherhood, “more precious than the diadem of a queen.” Overall, her dialog interrogates how women and men within these cultures responded to debates surrounding issues of privacy that were withheld from women, especially women of color: their bodies, female sexuality, being a “good mother,” and the meaning of motherhood.

Keywords:   Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Brooklyn women, black womanhood, African American, British West Indian, black mothering

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