LaShawnDa Pittman, an assistant professor of American ethnic studies at the University of Washington, has established the website Real Black Grandmothers where she presents oral histories of African American grandmothers who play a vital role in the Black community. Black children are at least twice as likely to be cared for by a grandparent as are children of other races and ethnicities.
“After slavery, it was grandmothers who reconstituted the family and maintained family ties through reunions, church and child-rearing,” Dr. Pittman explains. “Today, grandparents step in when parents are unable to meet a child’s needs, and in the Black community, it’s not assumed that they always can. Raising children is a collective endeavor, and grandmothers are key to that collectivity.”
Dr. Pittman added that “I hope that like other archives that hold the stories of African-Americans, Real Black Grandmothers can be a useful educational, historical, and even inspirational tool for generations to come.”
Dr. Pittman joined the faculty at the University of Washington in 2013 after conducting postdoctoral research at Georgia State University. A graduate of Georgia State University, where she majored in urban government administration, Dr. Pittman earned a master’s degree in sociology at the University of Connecticut and a Ph.D. in sociology from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.