Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 3–25 | Cite as

I/We Narratives Among African American Families Raising Children with Special Needs

  • Lanita JacobsEmail author
  • Mary Lawlor
  • Cheryl Mattingly


This paper examines a statistics debate among African American caregivers raising children with disabilities for insights into the work of “African American mothering.” Using ethnographic, narrative and discourse analyses, we delineate the work that African American mothers do—in and beyond this conversation—to cross ideological and epistemological boundaries around race and disability. Their work entails choosing to be an “I” and, in some cases, actively resisting being seen as a “they” and/or part of a collective “we” in order to chart alternative futures for themselves and their children.


Narrative African American Mothering Ways of knowing Race Disability 



We extend our deepest gratitude to the women who shared their experiences and insights and all of the family members, practitioners and members of the research team for their invaluable contributions. This work was supported by the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Grant MCJ 060745, 1996–1999).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Occupational Science and Occupational TherapyUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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