Motherhood in the time of slavery

Dossie Smoot

read this sensual yet troubling story of a pregnancy in bondage

The Summer Lolly

Also by Breena Clarke

Stand The Storm    purchase Stand The Storm at  Word Books in Jersey City or ask for it at your local bookstore.

From the beginning, Annie refused to pull back caring for her boy though. As well as she knew that she toyed with sorrow, she clung to the child. Hope was a feature on his face. She had put it there and she resolved to be clever and keep him. And if he were lost, then it would be her portion to swallow, for she was committed to love him. She later pledged in her heart to Ellen, too, but she was less ardent with her. She had got used to the hurly-burly exercise of love when Ellen came and could easily choose between the two. Annie guided Gabriel—nay, she had cut him if the truth be told. Here was a man she had shaped. She had trained him to be clever and she guided him to the clever path. The woman helping her bring Gabriel had been short with her, impatient of Annie’s writhing and bucking labor. The woman handled the baby roughly when he emerged and let him squall long minutes before bringing him to Annie. “Don’t give him the tit too quick! He’s got to learn right off that he’ll wait for his vittles like everybody else. He ain’t no king on a throne,” she growled. But Annie took him up and clutched him, and he latched to her breast and sucked and would not be loosed until his head fell back sleeping and a trickle of milk came from his mouth. “Ah, you’ll cry,” the irritable helpmeet pronounced as she left with her bandages and slop pans.

from Stand The Storm by Breena Clarke

read an essay on motherhood and loss Fifteen on MOM/EGG Review                   fullsizeoutput_32d1

Parenting in the time of slavery is necessarily fraught with peril. In Breena Clarke’s novel, ANGELS MAKE THEIR HOPE HERE, young Dossie’s parents do the most difficult thing imaginable. They send their child off to uncertainty rather than have her suffer as an enslaved person on the Kenworthy plantation. They embrace a hope that, with the help of others, she can become free and live a better life (even if they don’t actually know what that better life would be). For them, the knowable horror of Kenworthy plantation is worth risking this child’s life and separating from her forever. Breena Clarke discusses

ANGELS MAKE THEIR HOPE HERE and its depictions mothers, fathers, patriarchy vs. matrilineal constructs and parenting in the time of slavery.

. . . the most damaging aspect of the institution of slavery is the destruction of familial relationships through separation and the inability of enslaved parents to protect their children. It is in the interest of preserving families that the people of Russell’s Knob built a community, preferring to live apart from the mainstream in order to stay together with loved ones.

for more information on Breena Clarke’s books:












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