Millions and millions of women around the world give birth to both girls and boys. However, I believe there is a special bond that a mother has with a daughter. There is nothing more precious than a mother teaching her seed, her offspring, her daughter. The tutelage that a mother gives her daughter will last her a lifetime.
Writing this I can only reflect on my mother. My queen. My confidante. My sounding board and my friend. My mother had her first child as a teen in the early 1960s when the plight of African-Americans was quite high and in many instances deadly. My mom for several years lived in a segregated country where African-Americans did not have equal rights. Also, during this period women were viewed as lesser than men. My mom had to rear her first daughter in those state of awful and unfortunate affairs.
Fast forwarding to they year of 1975 when I was born my mother had her fourth daughter. I was child number five of six. I can only remember being in love with my mom all my life. I do not have a memory or an experience where my mom and I had discord. My mom was my shero. My mom was my confidante, sounding board, advisor, mother, and friend. My mom was resilient. She was a survivor. My mom had learned how to maneuver in a society that constantly told her what she could not be or what should could not do. My mother never let the affairs of the world in which she lived impact how she treated or reared me.
My mom like many other women who lived during the Great Depression, race riots, the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, and Dr. King I believe were quite resilient. My mother had to push pass every educational barrier and she had to learn how to exhibit fortitude and strength but she was never cold or distant with me but loving and supportive. My mother like many other African-American women had to stop attending school because finances were needed to help the family. This was quite common for many African-American women to do this. It was a mere matter of survival. I often remember my mother saying she did not have elaborate or extravagant meals to eat as a child. My mother stated she was tired of eating foods like oatmeal, turkey neck bones, and all types of beans. In the African-American community my mother would be affectionately known as “Big Ma.” The staple and the matriarch in the African-American community. “Big Ma’s” taught their daughters practical things that would help them maneuver in this world.
My mother cultivated the bond we had and it was not based on material items or finances. But my mother worked extremely hard at low wage paying jobs but I always had my needs met and most of my wants. I often wonder how she did it.
This is not uncommon for many generations of older African-American women who came from meager beginnings. Despite the economic challenges that many older African-American women faced they knew how to survive and they taught their offspring how to survive just as well. They survived segregation, Jim Crow, low wages, racism, sexism, classism, and much more. Throughout it all African-American women during this era still found a way to persevere, protest, and demand equal rights. My mother for example, appreciated every right she was granted as she got older, in particular the right to vote. My mother and other African-American women understood how their fore-mothers fought tirelessly and she did not miss an opportunity to cast her vote. My mother and I spent many years casting our votes together. When Barack Obama was elected President of the United States my mother was so proud. She never imagined seeing a Black President of the United States. However, she did and she always would encourage her neighbors to vote. She knew how important it was. Resiliency oozed from the orifices of my mother’s DNA and many other African-American women. The resilient DNA attributes stems from Mother Africa. The roots of strength run very deep.
Not only are African-American women full of strength and resiliency they pass down many oral traditions. There are many African-American griots and storytellers. These stories told are full of life lessons and things that make you feel very proud of your heritage. Or things are told to make you be cautious and aware. Many African-American women would say, “Don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing, or feed people with a long handle spoon.” I did not always understand these African-American fables or parables. These fables didn’t make it to books like Aesop’s fables did. But some how they slipped into the frontal lobe of many descendants of African-American women memory banks. These sayings are part of our tool kit for life. They immediately come to your memory when life situations occur.
All older African-American women did not flourish with high academic and scholastic’s but I believe what my mother had and others had far outweighed academia. Many matriarchs had a supernatural sense of wit and wisdom. They had uncanny abilities to detect the essence of someone’s soul. In the African-American community many of these women were affectionately known as Big Ma. Big Ma could detect when someone was unauthentic, wicked, malicious, or evil. Big Ma could also detect who had good character and integrity. My mother fell into that category of women who had that skill. This skill was needed to maneuver in life. Big Ma would say, “keep your eye on them or something not right with them.” Or you may hear, “stay away from them because they don’t mean you well or they are up to no good.” Transversely so, Big Ma’s were just women you should listen to. They had a third sense that was divinely given. I say many of the African-American matriarchs had a PHd (perception, honesty, and discernment). They truly had doctorates in life. It behooved you to listen to their wise counsel.
We must never dismiss, diminish, devalue, the role our matriarchs played. Dare not dismiss the knowledge as not needed because we now have google or the world wide web. The insight of older African-American women have kept many of their offspring alive and afloat for decades and centuries. Let’s keep their legacies alive by telling their stories. It is important to remember and listen to what they taught and pass it down to future generations. Yes we are more advanced in the world in many regards but we should never stray away from wise counsel that helps us live better.
The things that my mother taught me will never become outdated. The things that African-American women have taught should be carried in the hearts and minds of future generations forever.