Women Who Raised Each Other

There are no men in my family
Makes them foreign creatures to me
Exotic in their beauty
Sisterhood is far more familiar to me

 

No granddaddy to sit me on his knee
My father was too mean to my mama and too docile with the second wife
So what is a husband?
She who pays the bills runs the household
So what does it mean to rely on someone else?

 

We are the women who raised each other
Aunt Mable kept a shotgun
We defend our own honor
That nigga hit her so I’m knocking on his door
My mouth thinks I have more testosterone than my muscles could ever deliver
But who else gone do it?
We have no one to hide behind
We walk down dark alleys alone prepared to bear whatever might happen
We absorb the pain; we keep it movin
All we got is us

 

What would it mean to have two parents in a house who loved each other?
Who will we be buried next to?
And what of these little boys?
Can we ever make them men?
No; we coddle them
Shield them from accepting responsibility and never set them free
Baby boy might be the only man who never leaves me

 

I want to be like that nuclear family on TV
but my guts’ been nagging me
Saying “baby girl, that’s a pipe dream”

 

I study old couples like a foreign language
Teach me a tongue in which I can trust
Translate for me shared responsibility
We are the girls who chase boys away
Or maybe pick ones never worthy of entering this convent
They are lacking in piety

 

All I’ve ever learned is ‘niggas ain’t shit’
And it’s not from pontification; this is what I’ve witnessed
So how can I ever believe a promise of forever?
That idea is as fantastic as the Star Wars trilogy
Science fiction

 

Yes there’s some logic there but where is the live evidence?

 

So what do we do with these little boys?
Not one raised to be better than his predecessor
Have we failed these men?
Taught them to fail their women?
Breast fed for too long so they learn to be parasites

 

I bought my own house
No one to work that yard or take the trash out
So I keep a job that pays enough that I can hire someone to do man things
I can only depend on me; folk too easily take off those rings
We are the women who raised each other

 

We become mothers not knowing our fathers
How do you teach a daughter to be nothing like you?
We repeat mistakes
Pat on the back if you reached 18 without pregnancy
We are the girls who raised each other

 

We pick each other up when men drop us like belt buckles hitting the floor with a clank
He moves on; it’s moving time
Hot summer days in ponytails we load the truck
Men become our nemeses
Enemies
Pain givers; pleasure seekers
Our expectations fall lower and still they can’t deliver
And yet we love them
Keep buying those dreams
And paying for them
We are the women who raised each other

 

We hold each other closely
We love each other fiercely
We guard each other nobly
We are the women who raised each other

Nuance & Anti-patriarchy

bell hooks said that Feminism is for everybody. The idea that every woman has the right to determine her own reality is for all of us to embrace. I’ve spent the time since encountering bell hooks and other feminist/womanist writers in some serious introspection about my own behavior, what I say, how I say, and just the general way in which I go about relating to the world around. However, what I’ve noticed is a lack of a place where the nuances and particulars of being a man –particularly a Black Man — in the struggle against patriarchy on a personal level has the floor. Part of this is because so few of us truly and sincerely engage anti-patriarchy. That lack of participation makes it hard to come together to compare experiences because most of the time when men are engaged with an anti-patriarchal discussion it’s due to a call out where someone is being held responsible for their oppressive behavior; where it then becomes a competition where we are comparing the weight of our respective pain and betrayal on a personal and group level. Such behavior is silencing the very valid voices of feminists and womanists on how we as men are hurting women via our privilege as well as preventing the kind of discussion that needs to happen regarding how we are interpreting behaviors so we can make this unity thing work.

 

What my experience has shown is the lack of models and lack of discussion started by us about engaging feminism as well as our hurt and pain in relationship to our solidarity with women. For those of us that are sincere about unity and solidarity it creates this hesitancy to ask questions or bring things up for discussion because of the potential backlash and being labeled unsafe in the communities we frequent. This troubles me because it creates this cycle of silence where we only bring up our experiences in response to when women criticize us because of patriarchy. The fact is that not enough of us are speaking up and out about patriarchy and our pain and so when we make mistakes, they end up being translated as the standard for our behavior rather than the exception.

 

On the other end of that, however, are some folk out there who seem to have already made up their minds about the inadequacy or worthlessness of men especially black men and thus a man’s engagement of anti-patriarchy is them waiting for you to mess up so they can be like,”a-ha! I knew u wont shit.” Granted this is a reaction against the system of patriarchy but if one has been written off from jump there’s no solidarity to grow into. Everything I have experienced in my time and growth in anti-patriarchy shows me that it is very much an act of unlearning and undoing that which has been normalized. Mistakes are apart of the process and at times seems to be very little leeway for that. Sometimes there is the rush to judgment over a sloppily worded thought or poor understanding of a concept.

 

As a practical example, I look to the character Teacake in Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God”. Looking at how Hurston writes Teacake: how he is, how he sees Janie as an equal partner, how he is willing to talk with her and listen. Hurston could have made TeaCake perfect, could have had him and Janie ride off into the sunset or have him tragically die but have maintain that vision of TeaCake as the prototype. However, in Teacake, Hurston puts in jealousy which causes him to abuse Janie, and his pride which plays a role in his death — culminating when Janie kills Teacake. we are made aware that the rabies has taken over and there is nothing really left of Teacake there. Hurston show us how tragic, murderous and destructive the kind of behavior we define as manly (patriarchal) can be but also that it’s something that even the most exceptional among us struggle with. Whether paragon or pariah we have to look at Teacake in the totality of being.

 

I think this is a lesson we could all use.

Are Midwest Black Men Better At Relationships Than Mid-Atlantic Ones?

Not always sure how to articulate my feelings regarding topics that can either tickle an eureka response, or become the reason for yet another sixty-six blocks to the Owl’s Asylum Twitter account. Considering that particular hesitance and the dire need to qualify each statement in this modern age’s art of political correctness, the task of writing about Afkan (Afrikan-Amerikkkan) male and female (can I write ‘female’ there and not be written off before execution?) relationships can be daunting. As a disclaimer, I can only write from my perspective. My perspective should be defined as my experiences, my observations, my analysis, and my opinion. The key word there in case you missed the oh so awkward use of repetition is ‘my’. Carrying on…

 

Relationships of complete organic design can be filled with surplus tensions that cause the bond to become brittle. Western psychology and Freud’s specific thoughts on incest aside, even mother and son relationships can be tumultuous. This is not to compare that naturally configured coupling to the romantic sort, yet it is to say, it takes work at some point to keep people operating together. People meet with one set of concerns and desires, and later on evolve or devolve with new considerations and motivations. Relationships take work.

 

If I might beg your pardon for one important digression.

 

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