Mothering and Othering: Experiences of African American Professional Women

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement

Publication Date


Date Added



African American women have been the backbone of American society. Since 1619, they have been and remain a stable force upon which families, communities, and institutions have been built and nurtured. In many cases, this role of nurturer has transcended forced servitude and is now both a personal and professional choice, which is demonstrated through her roles as mother and social worker. Unfortunately, this positioning has required many African American women who are mothers and social workers to address demands associated with the intersections of their roles including role overload, role strain, and role confusion. In addition to challenges faced by role intersections, African American women must simultaneously manage societal issues, including racism, sexism, racial loyalty, racialized oppression and gender biases. Finally, African American women who are mothers and social workers must process internal conflicts associated with certain paradigms, including the strong Black woman, imposter syndrome, and superwoman schema. Given these challenges, there seems to be a dearth of theories that adequately explore the noted intersections for this unique population of African American social workers who operate in multiple spheres. This conceptual article provides some historical context, reviews the relevant literature, explores strengths and gaps in related theoretical frameworks, and examines our experiences to promote the exploration of a comprehensive theory that seeks to explain the nuanced intersections of mothering and othering.


Social Work