Sophisticated Mother

Sophisticated Mother

It is a very rare individual who doesn’t have a special place in his or her heart for their mother and if you happen to be one, then what I want to share with the world is not for you. I lost my mother last September 28. She was blessed with 96 years and her children were just as blessed having her for so long. So, for those who share the same feeling for their mother, who might still be here or gone on to glory, please allow me to express my articulation of the Sophisticated Mother.

                

       Sophisticated Mother

        You’re the heart of this earth

               Sophisticated Mother

        You’re why God created love

               Sophisticated Mother

     You’re the reason for our beginning

               Sophisticated Mother

  You’re the permanence in our existence

               Sophisticated Mother

      You’re the endurance of our culture

               Sophisticated Mother

You’re the humanity in a world of impiety

                Sophisticated Mother

        You’re the alleviator of our fears

               Sophisticated Mother

    You’re the conciliator of our troubles

               Sophisticated Mother

     You’re God’s special gift to the world

      HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

   SOPHISTICATED MOTHER

         

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My Cousin’s Daughter Aramis and the Beauty of the Black Woman

Aramis Donnell Ayala is a young, beautiful, intelligent, and powerful Black woman who has come under attack from racists, who disagree with a decision she recently made as the State of Florida’s District Attorney in Orange and Osceola Counties. In many ways, Aramis is just the direct opposite of what has, over the last decade, become the media perception of the Black woman. She didn’t spend seventeen years in prison for drug distribution, and then come out as part owner of a music empire. She spent her years in the university pursuing a law degree. She doesn’t sleep with the man who has power so that she can have power, she has power of her own making. Like Michelle Obama, she contradicts the white media’s perception of the Black woman that has a very long history in this country. The Black woman has been less than the stellar representation of grace, beauty, and dignity. That role has been reserved for the white woman.

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There is precedent for the media’s distorted myth of the Black woman. It began as far back as the early Nineteenth Century when racist theorists found it necessary to demean the African in order to justify their sick system of slavery. One of those early distortions was the concept of God’s chain of beauty. According to this formula, God had created the white woman as the personification of beauty, and every male regardless of race craved her. According to this theory, at the bottom of this chain was the Black woman and no male actively sought her, not even the black man. So who was left to be with the Black woman? Again, according to this theory, the suitor for the Black woman was the orangutang, and she would be just as happy and satisfied with his company. (Please note I am articulating a sick theory of racism)

Then there was the Thomas Jefferson’s scientific study printed in his book Notes on the State of Virginia, where he claims to have carried out an examination of the nature of the Black man and woman. One of his findings was that the Black race lacked loving compassion, and were more animalistic in their sexual behavior. All these racists theorists claimed that the woman was sexually driven, and constantly seeking the sexual favors from the white man. This was so prevalent that when a white rapist was brought before a white judge in 1900 Alabama for raping a Black woman, the judge dismissed the case because, according to him, all Black women craved the white man so it couldn’t have been rape.

Notes On The State Of Virginia

Even though every sane, rational thinking human being, recognized this distorted perception of the Black woman it continued to exist. Fast forward to the contemporary roles that Black women play in many movies and television programs. These roles are not stellar portrayals of her, in many of these shows. And these distortions reached its lowest level of absurdity in the movie Monster Ball, a story that features a Black woman willing to have sex with a racist pig, who I believe was her husband’s executioner in prison. How low can you go?

But Aramis and Michelle negate those false portrayals through real life examples of the modern Black woman. Still the perpetrators of these distortions continue. Michelle was compared to an ape and the legitimacy of her accomplishments were challenged, and she was referred to as the “angry Black woman,” on numerous occasions.  And just recently, a racist in Florida suggested that Aramis should be “tarred and feathered” or hung from a tree. In his mind, this is something you can do to a Black woman, but he would never dare suggest that as punishment for somewhat white.

On a personal note, I am so proud of Aramis, who is my cousin’s daughter. I have known this bright young lady all her life as well as her sister Amber, who also is quite accomplished and their only brother Glenn, who is the oldest of the three. Their mother and father are great examples of parents, who worked hard to make sure their children received the best education, understood their ethical and moral responsibility as young Blacks, who often would be judged on the distorted definition of black and not on their own merits. Their grandmother, my Aunt Ellen, also set an illustrious example for them to follow as a strong Black woman, who loved her family and worked very hard to make sure they always had the best she could offer. Aramis, her sister Amber, their mother Natalie, and my Aunt Ellen are strong contradictions to what we often see portrayed on television and in movies about the Black woman. And they are only the tip of the iceberg. Black pride and womanhood runs deep in the Black culture and is the strength on which that culture has been sustained over the centuries. Any other projections of Black womanhood are serious distortions of reality.download

 

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FINDING BLACKNESS

I have a friend who does an outstanding presentation to young Black American men. The title of his talk is, “What I would Tell You If I Were Your Father.” By the end of his talk, he is encouraging the young men that it is time to jettison the “Bling-Bling,” of all the superficial chains, rings, sagging pants, disrespectful and vulgar language for a new lifestyle. But unlike many other black leaders, he does not attack the young for their behavior, but instead tries to explain to them why they have a very negative mindset, one that is destructive and detrimental to their growth and demeaning to their culture. The basis of his approach is to reject the assumption made by many conservatives, both black and white, that the young black man’s behavior is of his own doing. That he is not the victim of centuries of an oppressive system, deliberately designed to destroy the black youth’s feelings of self-worth, of pride in who he is, and of the race and culture from which he comes.

But the conservatives are wrong. Two centuries of purposeful and vicious attacks on the most important principle in the growth for a healthy and positive young man, be it black or white or any other race, the belief in one’s self, is still being denied black youth in this country. But shame on us who have allowed this to happen. Shame on us who admire the negative portrayals of blacks in books, movies and on television. It is like we have come to the point that we get the same kind of enjoyment out of the negative images of the race, in the same manner that whites have gotten for over two hundred years. It is time for us to reverse this trend and change the paradigm. It is time for us to no longer be the exception, but instead to be exceptional. Let us begin to point out the great accomplishments of our race, and the exceptional men and women who have accelerated in their particular fields of endeavor. Let’s do something different for a change and take the high road, instead of settling for the ditch. We accomplish change by finding our blackness as a people and a culture. There is a war for the soul of our culture, and it calls for drastic steps from all who are concerned. Here are a few facts that we all can begin to share with our young; facts they need to know so they will know “they are somebody.”

winkfield

They NEED TO KNOW that Blacks excelled as jockeys soon after the Civil War. The first winner of the Kentucky Derby was Jimmy Winfield. In fact, 15 of the first twenty-eight Derbies were won by Black jockeys. And the greatest jockey in the history of the sport was Isaac Murphy who won three Kentucky Derby races and 44% of all his races throughout his career.

eminence

They NEED TO KNOW that Jesse Owens embarrassed the German dictator Hitler who had claimed the German runners were invincible, but defeated them in the 100-yard-dash. In fact, Owens won four gold medals in the Olympics that year, proving that Black excellence was unstoppable.

lockebuncheaydavisThey NEED TO KNOW Black exceptionalism does not end with sports, but can be found in academic circles also. There is no question that Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois was the country’s most gifted scholar of the 20th Century. He was the first Black man to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University and was a historian, sociologists, philosopher, novelist and all around brilliant thinker. Dr. Alain Locke, also a philosopher, attained Phi Beta Kappa status and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University. He was the first Black Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and was known as the “Godfather of the Harlem Renaissance.” Jesse Fausett was the literary editor for Crisis Magazine during the Renaissance. She was the first Black female graduate from Cornell University and first Black woman to achieve Phi Beta Kappa status. Dr. Ralph Bunche became the first African American to win a Nobel Peace Prize for his work toward bringing peace in the Middle East in the late 1940’s. Dr. Angela Davis is an accomplished scholar who has taught at the University of California at Los Angeles and wrote many political tracts critical of the oppression Blacks have suffered in this country.

opptymagcrisismagladyThey NEED TO KNOW that Black Americans have been publishers since 1827 when Samuel Cornish and John Russwum published Freedom’s Journal. Frederick Douglass published North Star in 1847, Robert S. Abbott, the Chicago Defender in 1905 and Edwin Nathaniel Harleston, Pittsburgh Courier in 1907. Black Americans also published some very influential magazines. Dr. Du Bois was editor and publisher of the Crisis Magazine associated with the NAACP, Charles Johnson published Opportunity Magazine for the Urban League, John Johnson published Ebony and Jet, Earl Graves Black Enterprise and Edward Lewis, Clarence O. Smith, Cecil Hollingswroth and Johnathan Blount founded Essence Magazine, first published in 1970.

jb_stratfordluoullawilliamsThey NEED TO KNOW that Black Americans were successful entrepreneurs and that they can accomplish the same. They need to read about the great businessmen in 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma. Blacks had built a self-sustaining infra-structure of businesses, led by the great John Stradford, the richest man on Black Wall Street. He owned the most luxurious 54 room hotel and it was said that it matched for beauty, extravagance and comfort any hotel in the state of Oklahoma. Laurel Stradford, his great granddaughter is presently working on publication of his memoirs, and when they are released they should be required reading in every Black high school in this country. Other business men and women included O. W. Gurley who owned property in Tulsa, John and Loulla Williams and Dr. Andrew Jackson, all a part of the successful business class on Black Wall Street. Tulsa was not the only city where Black businesses flourished, just the most glaring example of success.

The NEED TO KNOW categories are extensive and I could go on for pages writing about successful Black Americans whom we must begin to share with our youth. I know there are many different organizations that are doing that very task as I write. But we must do more and I will continue to write about the successes either on this blog or through future novels and anthologies. Hopefully, you all will do your part and together we can help our young find their Blackness from a very different perspective than what they have received over generations, from a racially biased education system.

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