Kimya P. Barden is an Associate Professor of Urban Community Studies at Chicago’s Northeastern Illinois University. A Chicago native and mother of four, her research interests include African American young adult identity development, perceptions of historical trauma by African American youth, and neoliberalism’s impact on African American student identity. She recently contributed to the Journal of Mother Studies exploring the impact of tenure on Black mothers in academia.
Playdates provide children and caregivers an opportunity to engage in fun, interactive play. As a working mother parenting young children, I rely on playdates at drop-in play spaces to provide additional social, emotional, and academic support to my children. As an African American mother, playdates support my commitment to engage in motherwork, or collective parenting supportive of Black children’s survival, identity, and power (Collins, 1994). Throughout my playdate excursions with friends and family, I discovered a lack of diversity in play places in both proprietorship and programming, particularly at Playtime Fun, a drop-in play space I frequented with children and other mothers. Specifically, at this space Black mothers are often play consumers, prone to limited or skewed representation. Using Fanon’s, “white gaze” theory which highlights the omnipresence of the white, dominant perspective, I reflect on how motherwork, segregation-induced inequity, and women-owned businesses inform my playdate experiences.
Black Babies’ Playdates Matter: A Reflection of the Impacts of Segregation, the White Gaze, and Motherwork at a Drop-In Play Space