Just going through my luggage, clearing out some things to make way for enlightenment
Sunday, August 28, 2005"Don't Nobody Love You Like Your Mama!"
For years I thought this was another statement created by black mothers to produce in their children immediate distrust and suspicion of everyone. That they got together at the black mother's meeting and said, "Ok. We need to come up with a way to keep our kids safe from all of the evil influences of the world." I'm sure they came up with blood is thicker than water first, but that left the children vulnerable to the influences of evil family members, especially the daddies. So they came up with don't nobody love ya like ya mama. This raised your guard against pedophile uncles and crackhead cousins and insured your allegiance to mama.
I have to say that I bought into it. I absolutely believed it. Childhood made it easy. Through all the bruises, scrapes and disappointments who was it that ultimately made it all better? My perception changed when I began to see mothers through adolescent eyes. I realized that they couldn't ALWAYS make us feel better. That sometimes our disappointments were meted by them so that we would have the proper amount of clouds to make us appreciate the sun. Then came adulthood where I was able to see what a manipulating broad a mother can be... the ultimate disappointment.
When I started building a circle of friends, I have to admit that the commonalities I found were not always the most attractive basis on which to form an alliance; who could beat up the bully, whose refrigerator always had Kool Aid, who had cable in the family room, who had the weed, who had a car, whose parents were always out of town, who had a fake ID, who can get me in the club, etc., etc., but I forged those friendships nonetheless and I'm pleased to say that I have friends dating back 30 years. The reasons that I kept them around have changed, but one of their reasons for keeping me has remained constant. I usually have the answers to the test.
As I have gotten older, my judgement has become impaired when it comes to who I'm letting into my cypher. I'm not sure what it is. I've always been told that I'm a collector of people and I accept that. Even when someone brought nothing to the table at all, if I could help them in some way I kept them around. Needless to say I've cultivated a few parasites and enabled a couple of crackheads over the years, but overall I've been pretty happy with my choices.
Recently, on my journey to self actualization, I've been reaching back to reestablish some connections that got away from me. In many cases they got away clean and good riddance, but there were others that I truly loved and missed. This morning I found out the feeling was not mutual. I'm not sure what it is at this late stage of life that makes me think I can hang out all night, but I have been revisiting the activities of my youth; all-night dance clubs, all night diners, movie marathons, things that involve sleep deprivation and a little mind alteration. Last night I was lucky enough to stumble upon a clambake, a keg of Heineken and an old friend.
What started out as a great evening of pleasant ruminations and reminiscings ended in disillusion and disappointment. At about 3 a.m. I wanted to send a text message to share something funny and leave an I miss you message (don't worry about who I'm missing. Y'all so damn nosy). I discovered that Sprint had packed me FIERCE and I had no phone service. I asked my renewed acquaintance if I could borrow his phone to pay my bill. He was compelled to reflect on "how the mighty can fall" and my drunk ass is trying to figure out what the hell he's talking about. From what I can ascertain through the haze, he resented the fact that I was always coming to someone's rescue like "a white night." And I'm thinking to myself, 'bitch what are you talking about?' He didn't seem to have a problem taking my coins the night he blew a flat without a spare and we were stranded in DC... OR of using my AAA benefits. I never asked for or received anything in return for those things.
I've just never been one to think too much about repayment. I have always been of the belief that one hand washes the other and that any good we do comes back in the form of blessings from others. It is what I have relied upon for most of this existence. What I discovered this morning is that one hand will leave yours dirty and that some people don't believe that one good turn deserves another. I have always invested in people that I believe in... emotionally, spiritually and yes (like an idiot most times), financially. And those closest to me have always been comfortable coming to me for help or creating a scene where I will offer. In order to let folks keep their pride I have played the scene with Oscar-worthy finesse. I've taken my half-hearted thanks and gone on bout my business. Some of those people I knew would never be in a position to be of assistance to me and that was just my way of storing up treasures.
I always thought myself to be unselfish, but I think perhaps I am selfish in my generosity. After all I expect that if I help others they may one day help me. In the end I am selfish because I don't ask for help, even when I desperately need it. I've been in dire financial straits in the last year and no one has known... well some have because I wear my burdens like jewely, but I never shared. I would make up something before saying, "I got troubles." I recognize that it's not pride that keeps me from asking. It's the fear of being denied help by someone that I've taken joy in assisting at some point. This morning I faced that fear and survived AND over something as trivial as the use of a cell phone.
I'm glad to note that I have a few... a very few people in my life that I can look to for emotional, spiritual, moral and financial support. I am so grateful for those faithful few and I'm going to call each of them today and show love. My mama will be first.
Sometimes I can hit the nail squarely on the head which was the case in my reflection, The Dead Zone. Here is a piece that speaks about John H. Johnson, which shares some of my sentiment.
"The closing of a chapterWith the 50th anniversary of Emmett Till's murder approaching, it's time to apologize"
By Christopher Benson, associate professor of African-American studies and journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignPublished August 26, 2005
It was not surprising during the recent memorial service for Ebony and Jet publisher John H. Johnson, and in the many written tributes to the man's extraordinary lifetime of achievement, that the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till was invoked repeatedly as one of the most historically significant stories covered by Johnson's pioneering magazines. It was a powerful story with great impact that took courage and vision to reveal to the nation. Those shocking Jet photographs of the 14-year-old's mutilated body were seared into our national consciousness, a freeze frame of race hatred that cannot be forgotten. And never should be. The 50th anniversary of Emmett Till's murder on Aug. 28 will provide a new opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the story and the great sacrifices it took to move this country forward. But, during this weekend's commemoration, we also will be challenged to look ahead, to consider the legacy of Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, who died in 2003 having devoted the better part of her life to the pursuit of truth and justice. Mother Mobley was determined to set the record straight. That resolve drove her to spend the last six months of her life battling severe disabilities to work on the book she wanted to leave the world. Among other things, she reflects on the Mississippi murder trial of Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, who were acquitted of Emmett's murder and then went on to confess their crime in graphic detail to Look magazine.She believed, based on what she learned during the trial and from the investigation by black reporters and civil rights leaders like Medgar Evers and Amzie Moore, that Bryant and Milam did not act alone in the abduction, murder and coverup of the murder of her son. Mother Mobley would have been hopeful that we now might get closer to answering the unanswered questions, closer to knowing the truth, as a result of the current investigation, but she also would have wanted us to consider at this point what justice requires. Certainly, people must be made to answer for hate crimes in this country no matter how long it takes. If you commit murder, you should not be absolved just because you have had the good fortune to live a long life. Otherwise, as Emmett's cousin Simeon Wright has said, the message that comes out of this case is that the law in effect protected the guilty. Still, Mother Mobley knew that no amount of retribution could ever bring Emmett back to her. But she also knew that there were lessons for the rest of us. What she wanted most of all was for the death of her son to become a point of departure in considering these lessons. She was a Chicago public school teacher, after all, and teaches us still. Opposed to capital punishment, Mother Mobley never even wanted confessed murderers Bryant and Milam to be put to death--even if they could have been tried again. She wanted them to live long enough to be sorry for what they had done. The lesson here is one of redemption. And it extends to the people who helped to create the environment of race hatred that made people think they could get away with murder--in this case and others.Mother Mobley believed from the very beginning that there were many people to be held accountable for the loss of her son, including some elected officials in Mississippi at the time. These are people who should have led and chose instead to incite, people who should have condemned hate crime and chose instead to condone it, implicitly. There even is some evidence of possible obstruction of justice by one official. If there is no examination and conclusive finding in this regard, then the investigation will be incomplete, and the ends of justice will not fully be served. That is why Mother Mobley wanted an official apology to be issued by the State of Mississippi. She understood the great impact of an apology as did leaders in South Africa during that country's truth and reconciliation hearings following the end of apartheid, and, more recently, as U.S. senators understood in apologizing for the failure of the Senate to enact anti-lynching legislation during the 1930s. The point is that the healing can only begin when you first admit responsibility for the damage done. Unquestionably, a great deal of damage has been done with official sanction. Like John H. Johnson, Mamie Till-Mobley recognized the power of the narrative. She was committed to keeping this story alive. She deserves a commitment from the rest of us to gain insight and direction from it as we move beyond this weekend's commemoration to make sure we write the most meaningful closing chapter.