The Power of Mother/Daughter Relationships as Depicted in African American Lit

Recently,Guest Posting I completed a novella called Summer of Salvation, which was part of a larger anthology, All in the Family, spearheaded by prolific romance writer, Janice Sims. This collection will be issued in August 2006 through Dreams Publishing Company.

The mission of the anthology was to look at mother/daughter relationships and to turn that relationship inside out. It was also a chance to look at how people raised in the same family often had a different view and recollection of what really went on in the family. When I completed Summer of Salvation, I suddenly realized that many of my stories have the recurring theme of Black mother/daughter relationships. I guess I am obsessed with this idea, perhaps because I am a mother of two daughters and I am/was the daughter of a mother with three girls, each of whom she had a totally different relationship to, when she was still living.

In my first novel, The Ebony Tree, I examined four generations of African American women and how slavery impacted the mother/daughter dynamics over the years. This included looking at physical separation between mothers and daughters, such as daughters who were raised by maternal grandmothers, and that history somewhat repeating itself in that cycle in my second novel, No Pockets in a Shroud. In this novel, a birth mother is haunted by the ancestors because of a child she gave up for a closed adoption as a teenager and she returns to her hometown in search of this child. In my novella, Second Chances, (which is part of the anthology, Secret Lovers, issued by Urban Books/Kensington in June 2006,) although my heroine, Caprianna, is an orphan, she still has posthumous communication with her deceased mother at a pivotal point in the story.

So what is the purpose of looking to the past you might ask? One is to help dispel stereotypes about Black women, and the other is to help replace/heal faulty thinking/behavioral patterns (on the parts of Black women) with healthier ones. Believe it or not, all of this affects our relationships with our own mothers and our own daughters. Let’s face it. How many races of women were exposed to four hundred years of captivity? This poses the question, how can you transmit self-love when your daughter can be sold away from you? How does this love get twisted? (Such as Sethe’s love for the infant daughter whose throat she slit in Toni Morrison’s novel, Beloved.