The role that African-American grandmothers play when an adult female child is incarcerated reinforces the elevated status within the community that black grandmothers have always had.
In this Essay, I will primarily focus on: (1) the history of African-American grandmothers in the United States; (2) their status when they take on the role of raising grandchildren of their incarcerated children; and (3) the impact of mass female incarceration on these children.
HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN GRANDMOTHERS
The West African culture and tradition of caregiving across generations through the extended family carried over into America, (24) and most African-American grandmothers pride themselves on being the glue that holds their families together.
Perhaps the biggest difference in how the gender entrapment theory applies to battered African-American women who are incarcerated and the African-American grandmothers who are left as caretakers of their children is the grandmothers' ability to survive and to help their families under such poor circumstances.
In Oakland and Berkeley in the 1980s, it was not until African-American grandmothers
stood up and said "no more dead children" that the consciousness of the community got raised to a degree that got policymakers moving to really concentrate on families at risk.