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.
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.
Assata Zerai's research with African-American grandmothers
raising their cocaine-exposed grandchildren substantiates many legal and practical barriers that make difficult their efforts to provide good care for these young family members.
It's searching for African-American grandmothers
age 50 or older, living with a grandchild 18 or younger in homes that do not include the grandchild's parents, to participate in a three-year national study on the psychological well-being of such grandparent care-givers.
Rodgers and Jones conducted interviews with 19 African-American grandmothers
, ranging in age from 47 to 74.