Class Discussion 2/9

In the readings for this week, I was particularly struck by the way the statement in Linda Gordon’s essay Black and White Visions of Welfare that “black women [in comparison to white women] were more focused on their own kind” (Unequal Sisters, pg 232), paralleled with Mamie Fields’ recollections in Modern American Women. Fields recalls her first days as a schoolteacher in rural South Carolina and the difficulties she faced working closely with her students to get the school into working order. She spoke of a very close connection with the children, working to clear the schoolyard and kill the snakes in the schoolroom, and later working with the parents to convince them to bring their children to school regularly. Gordon writes of the African American emphasis on education as one of the community’s chief concerns and describes the lack of distance between the helpers and the helped (US, 232). Although not one of the more traditional affluent African American welfare reformers, Fields recalls situations that seem to reaffirm Gordon’s statement. I found this to be an interesting cross-over between the readings.

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