Black Mom’s Burden.

I am the mother of an intelligent, articulate, talented rambunctious 13-year-old boy.  As a mother my natural expectation, barring any unexpected illness or accidents, is that I will see him grow, get his heart broken, break hearts, learn to drive, graduate high school, go to college, start a career, get married, raise a family, raise children … in short my son should bury me; not vice versa.  An inconvenient truth in these great United States is that as a black mother of a black son there are other things I have to factor in like:

1. Getting him through a public school system that does not instill in him any cultural sense of self and within which I have to do battle to ensure he receives the basic knowledge he needs to survive adulthood.

2. Teaching him the realities of institutionalized racism.

3.  Keeping him out of the back of a cop car.

4. Preparing him  for the reality that he may end up in one any way because he “fit the description.”

5. Keeping him ALIVE in a society where black boys like Trayvon Martin can be murdered simply because he fit the fear based convoluted description in someone’s head.

… and this is the short list.  I have to fight this fight within a society that refuses to acknowledge any of it or either chooses to lay the blame at the feet of the “black community” and its “leaders”, whoever the hell that homogenous group of folks might be; this society that views the election of a black president as a “game over” for racism, all the while ignoring the rise of neo-racism in the form of “ultra conservatism” that has resulted from that election.

One foot in front of the other, one day at a time; I’m am raising a self sufficient, independently thinking black male that can not only be a productive member of society, but who can also be a vital asset to any community he chooses to be a part of. I pull from as many resources as I can to make sure he gets what he needs. I do everything in my power to instill in him a base sense of morality. Damn it, I am doing my part. It is so fucked up and utterly frustrating that I cannot rely on the society within which I live to do its.

No matter how  hard we as black moms of black sons try it seems we’re still behind the eight-ball. It’s the reality of our situation, but it is by no means a reason to sit in victimhood.  We have to continue, along side our men and any others who would chose to be a part of the solution, to engage and empower our boys. We can only hope and pray that one day society will catch on.

During our ride to school chat yesterday I asked my son how he felt about it all. Unfortunately this type of racism did not shock him. What did bother him, and me for that matter, is the rising level of “anger” and threatened violence surrounding the situation.  To use his words, “What is fighting gonna do? If they wanna get angry and do something there are plenty of other things they could do besides fight somebody.” So true.  I cannot begin to fathom life without my son. Today, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin have to.  They have my deepest sympathies.

Rosie.

 

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Looking After Little Almita Randell

“Almita!!!!!”

Clarice Randell marched back then forth down the vacant road and its barren surrounding landscape.  She turned a frightened eye to her oldest child.

“John, where she at?! You was supposed to be lookin’ after her!”

“Mama, I don’t know she was sittin’ right here just a minute ago.”

Before she could leap to attack her son, her husband grasped her wrist.

“Clarice juss calm down, she couldn’ta went too far.”

“Almita!!!!! I don’t trust it … these roads.  You know what they doin’ to colored folk down this way  Henry?!”

Silence, fear, and resentment hung heavy.  Father and son did the work of preparing the car to be road worthy.

“ALMITA!!!!!!!!!!”

Her mind drifted to a day a few months before.

“Baby don’t come in here!  Mama’s not feelin’ well and lord knows I don’t need you gettin’ what I got. Gone back in there with John.”

“It’s okay Mama. I’m a doctor.”

You a doctor?”

“Yes ma’am. I’m gonna take care of ya.”

“Is that right? Alright Ms. Doctor. Take care of me.”

Almita jumped right in staring intently into her mothers eyes, then ears, then throat. She flexed and bent her arms and legs. Finally, she put her head against her mother’s chest to listen to her heart.

It was here that the memory froze, and Clarice’s heart broke. Her legs folded and before she knew it she was on the ground. She sobbed heavily and cried out one last time.

“ALMITA!!!!!”

There was brief silence, then the roaring of an engine. She lifted her head and was greeted by a large billow of dust. The jalopy pulled abruptly next to her nearly running her over. In an instant she heard …

“Mama!”

Almita jumped out and ran over to her mother.

“What’s the matter Mama?”

Anger and relief washed over Clarice. She swatted Almita has hard as she could across her back side, then immediately kissed her and wept.

A small statured white man got out of the car.

“She yours?”

“Yessir.”

“You might wanna keep an eye on her.”

The twang in his voice and the implication that she would neglect her child, stirred hatred within her but the relief of having her child back kept it at bay. She rose, thanked him for his kindness and began to walk back toward her family. He followed.

Smiles and laughter as the family reunited fell to awkward silence.

“May I help you sir?”

“I fancy myself a photographer. You’re a right smart lookin’ group of coloreds. I wanna take your picture.”
Clarice looked to Henry.

“Yessir, but we do need to be gettin’ back on the road.”

“Won’t take me but a minute.”

The gentleman fumbled with his clunky equipment as Henry, John, and Clarice ready themselves to leave immediately after the photo was taken.  Almita, ever the curious rebel, ran toward the gentleman, past her father, down beside her brother, while resisting her mother’s last minute adjustments to her hair.

“Okay Mister! I’m Ready!”

Rosie.

photo courtesy of  the Waheed Photo Archive

Gotcha.

I just caught myself stalking the art and life of someone who got accepted to a grad program that I didn’t.  Five minutes in I knew it was the worse type of self abuse ever. I was measuring my self worth against someone else’s outward appearances.  I  am not, nor will I ever be this person. That’s neither good or bad, it just is.  The sooner I stop running from me, the more sanity I’ll gain, and the better the quality of life I’ll have.  This is the life I was given.  I have to deal with it. I hope to eventually love it, just the way it is. I don’t want to exist. I want to live.

Amen. Ashé. Selah.

Rosie.

 

My red feet.

When I was sixteen, I met and fell madly in love with the guy that I was 100% sure would be my husband. (Don’t all sixteen year-olds 🙂 ) He was my first real live relationship. He was my first consensual sexual encounter.  He was in prison by the time I was 18 and I was devastated. I clung to him and our “ideal” relationship for years, even keeping a pair of low top red Chucks he gave me in 1993 until 2010. It was this type of romanticism that would keep me engaged in some pretty shaky dealings in the relationship arena for the bulk of my adult life.

From the time he was sent away and sometimes now (I won’t front), I have chased that ideal “first time”; those butterflies we first feel when we fall in love … or lust. I’ve chased, at times, with great risk emotional and physical well being.  I have had – many – sexual partners. There, I’ve said it.  Let’s set aside all the emotional “shit” that happens.  I have sacrificed my physical well being on more occasions than I will cop too here by having unprotected sex;  too afraid that he wouldn’t want me if I asked him to put one on; too caught up in physical pleasure to have practical sense. It is truly by the grace of a power greater than me that I have emerged from these experiences with my health in tact.

HIV/AIDS is real, not to mention syphilis (which is rampant in my age group), gonorrhea, and chlamydia.  There is plenty of information about how to protect ourselves. There are plenty of products out there that allow us to protect ourselves, and have a lil additional fun to boot ;). So why do even the most educated and driven women, particularly black women, lose their power in the bedroom?  I’m not entirely sure, but we need to search ourselves for these reasons and find the resolve  to stop bullshitting with our lives.

It was these things and the beautiful women in my life who live big despite their HIV+ status that I thought about on the National Women and Girls AIDS Awareness Day. Hopefully they’ll make you think.

Grandiose shout out to Jameka S. Whitten who’s social media activism talk matches her activist walk. Click her name to read why she Rocks The Red Pump. Click here to find out how you can too, while supporting the cause of HIV/AIDS awareness. Sorry Jameka, I got bad ankles, I have to resign to low top red Chucks.

Rosie.

I discovered this gem of a documentary on Netflix.  It is no longer streaming unfortunately, but I highly recommend it.

All of Us.

T’was a necessary day.

I’m not even sure what I want to write here, but here goes.   In recovery I’ve heard it said that we have good days and we have “necessary” days. Necessary days are days where the not-so-great things come up that challenge all that good shit you think you believe. Today was “necessary”.  I took a verbal battering from someone very near and dear to me simply because we disagree on something. Something that in the end is my business.  I listened to a barrage of insults, accusations, and ill premonitions while saying little or nothing. I was called a “monster”. I was told that I needed to pray and rely on God in the same breath.

The entire time I felt like I was physically being slashed to pieces. I couldn’t breathe. My mouth went dry, but I continued to listen and actually maintained my decorum. I casually began to pack up my things, all while continuing to listen. That was my mistake.  I continued to listen. I knew that what was being said about me was in no way true, but I continued to listen.  I took on this person’s shit.  It danced with every bit of self doubt, shame and  guilt I ever had.  It rented property in my head, and affected my mood all day.

By 4pm (this happened at 11am) I wanted a drink in a way in which I hadn’t in a very long time. Me drinking doesn’t equal going to a bar, having a cocktail and taking it to the house.  Me drinking means me finishing a fifth of whatever, asking where the party’s at, getting in my car to drive to it, and blacking out.  Even though I had no intention of going out and getting a drink, this is a dangerous head space for someone like me to be in, or anyone for that matter. There is nothing a drink or drug can do for anyone (much less an addict) to solve a problem or fix a feeling. After today, I know I believe that at my core and I’m grateful.

I did all the healthy things I could to take care of myself like: talking to folks, making a meeting, praying, cleaning my space,  taking a shower, and writing about it. It’s 9:19pm, and I’ve officially gotten through this very necessary day with the bonus of seeing where its lessons fit in my life. Going forward, I know I must work on certain things so as not to continue to have the same “necessary day”. The main thing is developing the ability to give people their shit back.  Yelling, accusations, insults, and ill premonitions are sure fire guarantees that somebody is trying to give you some shit that ain’t yours. Run like your life depends on it.  It just might.

Rosie.

Joe 1940.

* I’ve become very inspired by the Waheed Photo Archive Tumblr, so I’ve decided to write stories based on my internal perception of some of the pics.  Here’s the first one. I hope you enjoy!
He stood for a second and gave the pelican legged child a once over while fondling his pockets for cigarettes. Once located, he slid the package out and began rolled it slowly against the back of his hand never moving his eyes from her.

“Go in there and get me some beer.” he gruffed.

“Th-there ain’t none. Th-that’s why Momma went to the store.” the child stuttered. Her eyes frozen to the lithe brown man. The bones in his face leapt out from beneath his skin. Frighteningly tall from the child’s perspective, he seemed to be an apparition. As she continued to examine him, her own face became apparent in his and she faintly remembered seeing him before.

“You know who I am?”

“I think so.”

“I’m yo daddy. You was too little to remember the last time I came.”

She did though. The more she stared at him the more the memory came together. She remembered he smelled good, and that they had danced to some old time music that her mother liked to listen to when she was good and drunk.

“I do remember.” she said at last.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

There was silence, mainly because neither knew what else to say, but also because they’d continued examining one another again.

“She say when she gonna be back?”

“No. She always take a long time. I guess she be takin’ to people.”

“Well I ain’t got time to wait.”

There was more silence, then he reached in the pocket of his lapel, pulled out a photo and handed it to her.

“You can keep that.”

It was a photo of him. He was young, full and handsome; the direct opposite of the hollowed out frame before her drawing in with much effort on a Pall Mall.

“Ok, I gotta go.”

“You comin’ back?”

“No. I won’t eva be back ‘round here no more.”

Her heart sank inside her warm chest. It felt like all her blood was leaving her.

She knew she would remember this day and this moment for the rest of her life. She would play it over in her mind a thousand times. Some days so she could remember him just as he was and the moment  just as it happened. But some days she would remember it but imagine if she could have done or said something differently so he wouldn’t go.

She cried. Her tears give way to sobbing. He stares at her, but does not react. He turns to leave, then stops.

“There are things, little girl, that you can’t and won’t eva understand. It’s best you get used to that or somebody gonna break that little heart of yours.”

Rosie.