My mom passed away a few years ago (RIP), so I’m ho-hum about Mother’s Day this upcoming Sunday. My mom and I had our battles (typical parent/child stuff), but we got along well for the most part . She was my friend. Plus, my mom didn’t play. Heh. I remember being shocked out of my socks, when my mom’s partner called to tell me that she had passed away. He had found her in the shower. I remember throwing down the phone and screaming/crying. I had just saw her the week before. At the time, my mom was living in Arizona and I visited for a short vacation. I remember she had cooked a huge pot of gumbo and she tried to get me to take some home with me. I didn’t want to have to carry it on the plane, so I declined. I figured I would get a bowl next time…
The following days were surreal. I had to fly back to Arizona to pack up her things. Then I flew back home to make arrangements. Then I flew to our original hometown to have the funeral with our family. Finally, I flew back home to…sadness. They say time heals all wounds, and it does make things a little easier. I still miss my mom everyday and wish she was here. Happy Mother’s Day, mom 🙂
I don’t have children of my own, so I won’t be getting a box of chocolates on Sunday. I have to admit this is the one day I’m envious of folks with children. I want a free meal too! I have never wanted to have kids. Even when I was a child, I told folks I didn’t want children. Of course, folks said I would change my mind when I got older. Well, I am older and if anything, it has reinforced my stance.
I don’t know why having children has never appealed to me. Maybe it’s because I’m always on the go. I like movement and freedom. Also, despite popular belief, motherhood is not universal. Motherhood is much more complex for black women. We live in a society that hates our children. We have to worry if our children will come back home after walking to the corner store or seeking help after they’ve had a car accident. Will the police shot our children, just because they see a black kid running? Will another black child shoot our child because of internalized racism/misguided priorities?
It can be stressful combined with all the regular parent worries. That’s why I give props to black moms/parents/caregivers who have decided to go down that road. It’s not easy to raise black children in this society. So, much love this Mother’s Day.
The reason why I’m being reflective on the issue of black motherhood, is because I watched bell hooks recent lecture at New School. hooks and Salamishah Tillet tackled the difficulty of raising empowered black daughters. It’s a good discussion…
“The group especially opposes the education of women. Under its version of Sharia law, women should be at home raising children and looking after their husbands, not at school learning to read and write. It has repeatedly targeted places of learning in deadly attacks that have highlighted its fundamental philosophy against education.” http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/24/world/africa/nigeria-kidnapping-answers/
There has been little to no new information on the what has happened to the girls/young women.I will post any updates as I hear about them. The Human Rights Watch website is also a good way to stay informed.
I try to be a radical activist. I try to push the boundaries in the things I say/do, because I think it is a perilous time for Black women/black folks/ and even non black folks. I love Octavia Butler. Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs has described Butler as a prophet. If you read Butler books, you will understand what Dr. Gumbs is talking about. A lot of what Butler writes about (the destruction of our society due to the continuing oppression of folks of color, women, the poor, etc.) is coming to fruition. The gap between the have and have-nots has grown worse (read her two-part book series Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents to see how bad things will get).
Things will continue to spiral out of control if these issues aren’t addressed. You can’t keep oppression/degrading a portion of folks and expect the country to thrive. It doesn’t work that way.
Dr. DeGruy is an activist I have much respect for. She wrote the book “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome” to give space to the pain that black people have endured in America:
“While African Americans managed to emerge from chattel slavery and the oppressive decades that followed with great strength and resiliency, they did not emerge unscathed. Slavery produced centuries of physical, psychological and spiritual injury.
Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing lays the groundwork for understanding how the past has influenced the present, and opens up the discussion of how we can use the strengths we have gained to heal.” http://joydegruy.com/joy-de-gruy-books-cds-and-dvds/
I have attended a Dr. DeGruy lecture before, and she keeps it 100. That’s why I say she’s not for the faint of hurt. If you truly believe that we live in a post-racial society, your world will be shattered after hearing one of her lectures. It’s why I love her work, she forces people out of their comfort zone. It’s something I try to do in my activism.
It’s almost that time again…In our so-called “post-racial” society folks have challenged the purpose of still having a Black History Month. Personally, I think it’s still an important and needed month. Especially, for our black youth (and hell even some adults). Yeah, yeah black history should just be considered American history. Yeah, yeah most black folks have made significant strides since the Civil Rights Movement. Yeah, yeah we have a black President, Oprah, Beyoncé etc. Black wealth/power is at a level it has never been before (too bad most of our black celebrities do absolutely nothing with it, but I digress 😦
YET, there are just as many black folks struggling. Many black folks live below the poverty line, highest rates of unemployment, targeted for the Prison Industrial Complex, shot in the back while walking from the store, etc. We still have a long way to go. It’s important we know our history, so we can’t be bamboozled into thinking we deserve our mistreatment. We don’t ever want racism/oppression to be normalized or thought of as “that’s just the way it is.” There’s a rhyme and reason for everything in our imperialist white supremacist patriarchal society (thank you, bell hooks).
“ARLINGTON, VA – January 16, 2014 – In commemoration of Black History Month and as part of its year-round commitment to provide diverse programming and resources for all Americans, PBS today announced new shows and online content celebrating the African American experience past, present and future. From an AMERICAN MASTERS profile of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, to an INDEPENDENT LENS documentary about the secret spy agency created to maintain segregation in 1950’s Mississippi, Black History Month on PBS will provide programs that educate, inform and inspire viewers to learn more about the rich culture of our nation. The lineup begins on February 3 at 10:00 p.m. with “American Promise,” a powerful coming-of-age documentary from POV that follows the journey of two young African-American males from kindergarten through high school graduation as they attend a prestigious Manhattan private school. Confronting challenges from typical childhood growing pains to cultural identification within a predominantly white environment, the young men and their parents push toward success and discover their own individuality in the process.”–http://www.pbs.org/about/news/archive/2014/black-history-month/
I always think it’s bold when a black person publicly rejects the black church. A few days ago, For Harriet posted an article on why some black women are leaving religion. Candace L. M. Gorham is the author of the book. She was once deeply involved with the church until she realized how traditional black churches can be oppressive to black women. Black women tend to be very religious. I am from the Deep South, and church/religion dominates the lives of many women in my family. While I wasn’t raised in the south, I was sent there a lot for summer/holiday vacations, and was forced to go to church while I was there. I always felt like an odd duck at these gatherings, because my mom didn’t push religion on me. We would sometimes go to church for Easter, but even that stopped as I got older. I’ve been called an atheist by some family members (I am not). Folks get real scared/ hostile when you question church. My partner is religious and he gets upset when I point out some the flaws of religion. We will see how this goes…
On a blog I like to visit, a poster pointed out there are progressive churches out there. True, but many black women/folks won’t attend these churches because they feel these aren’t “real churches”/view them with suspicion. It’s a matter of showing black women that these other options can be empowering to them, that they don’t have to suffer at the hands of thosethat want to exploit them or give bad information when it comes to things like dealing with mental health. Black women need to pick spiritual methods (or not) that keep them mentally, physically, and economically healthy.