Andrea O’Reilly is Associate Professor in the School of Women’s Studies at York University and Director of the Association for Research on Mothering. She is the author and editor of many books on mothering, including From Motherhood to Mothering: The Legacy of Adrienne Rich’s Of Woman Born and Toni Morrison and Motherhood: A Politics of the Heart, both also published by SUNY Press.
Mothering is a central issue for feminist theory, and motherhood is also a persistent presence in the work of Toni Morrison. Examining Morrison’s novels, essays, speeches, and interviews, Andrea O’Reilly illustrates how Morrison builds upon black women’s experiences of and perspectives on motherhood to develop a view of black motherhood that is, in terms of both maternal identity and role, radically different from motherhood as practiced and prescribed in the dominant culture. Motherhood, in Morrison’s view, is fundamentally and profoundly an act of resistance, essential and integral to black women’s fight against racism (and sexism) and their ability to achieve well-being for themselves and their culture. The power of motherhood and the empowerment of mothering are what make possible the better world we seek for ourselves and for our children. This, argues O’Reilly, is Morrison’s maternal theory—a politics of the heart.