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There is a sense in which Black mothers and daughters share a collective history. Even though today’s Black mothers and daughters were not there, their racial memory includes African men, women, and children being torn from their land and shipped like cargo into slavery in the interest of White men’s greed” (xiii–xiv). Indeed, for postcolonial diasporic women “the mother daughter relationship … bears a colonial imprint” (Dalziell 257). As Cole has suggested, this traumatic history shapes the African American mothering practices whereby mothers teach their daughters how to survive.

I told myself several years ago during the early brainstorming phase of this project that I wanted to grant my grandmother a voice because a part of me always knew that she was a woman whose voice and innermost thoughts and dreams needed to be listened to and heard. In providing a voice and subjectivity for my grandmother, it is not my intention to silence the middle link: my mother. Elena left Mamá Chonita’s home feeling energized and closer to her than ever before, but my mother has admitted to me that visiting her mother does not give her the same satisfaction it gives Elena.

It is not my intention to disregard the mothers’ capacity to inflict pain upon their daughters; doing so, I believe, only serves to romanticize the maternal relationship. The fact is, some mothers can be cruel to their daughters, but because these mothers have knowledge of living in a world that has denied them access to the mythical “American dream,” some mothers want to spare their daughters that trauma but at times succeed only in hurting their daughters instead. The mother’s stifling the daughter’s creativity, combined with her privileging men over women, is a result of the mother’s distinct relationship with patriarchal motherhood.

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