Our Daughters, Our Selves
By PPR_Scribe on September 07, 2009
**Crossposted at This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life**
In another part of the country, a mother buries her Black daughter.
This mother probably thought this daughter, killed steps from a college
library, would be safe. She probably aches from the thought that she
could not have protected her better. All over the country, mothers of
Black daughters in her age group (15-24) ache for their dead daughters---dead from "unintentional injuries" (#1 cause of death) and homicide (#2 cause of death).
one else seems to ache for their daughters. There does not, for
example, seem to be a national feminist organization, or a national
Black civil rights organization, whose mission it is to ache---and
advocate for---these Black daughters.
So we mothers of Black daughters must advocate for our daughters, for our selves.
Sometimes I am cynical about what my daughters' world will be. I
look around and see signs that do not fill me hope. I look around and
see who we cry for, who we call into radio programs to show support
for, who we march in the streets for, who we file amicus curiae briefs for, who we garner our righteous indignation for. And those whos do not, in most cases, seem to be Black daughters.
The First Lady must advocate for her First (and Only) Daughters.
As must we all. Our nation's First (Black) Daughters are our symbols.
They are our symbols for what it will be to be a Black daughter in this
still-new century. Will it be more of the same? Or a New Day? Will the new day be a good new day, or will it surprise us with the creativity and inventiveness of its new-found horrible-ness?
My Black daughters came to me in a pair. And people tend to think of them as a pair. Venus-and-Serena. Sasha-and-Malia.
Yes, my daughters are individuals, not an interchangeable unit. Yet
I like their paired-ness. Hopefully the dashes sandwiching the and between their names will remind them that they will have to advocate for each other. To be their own best friends.
Their own most ardent defenders.
I stand in solidarity with other mothers of Black daughters. Many of
these mothers are Black daughters themselves. But some are not. Some
are White daughters, or identify racially as other than black or white.
Some mothers are "actually" grandmothers, or aunts, or older cousins.
Some are not even female, but they "mother" their Black daughters just
the same. Black daughters are yoked to their mothers by biology and by
adoption and by social contract. By necessity and by convenience and by
varied Black daughters might struggle to see themselves in other Black
daughters. And we as their mothers must release ourselves from whatever
bulky and heavy bags we still tote around, filled with random items of
wrinkled shit of our own histories with other Black daughters.
It ain't gonna be easy.
But it is for our daughters, so we will find a way.
I feel a special concern for other Black mothers of Black daughters. There is a saying in Black communities: We love our sons and raise our daughters.
I often do see evidence of this. With all respect, some of us need to
do more forcing our sons to grow up, and ensuring our daughters do not grow up too soon. I have seen the consequences of some Black mothers' "loving" of their Black sons.
And it is not a pretty sight.
Mothers of Black daughters: Love your daughters. Fiercely and completely. Love them as much as you do---or should---love yourselves.
One of the greatest gifts I have given my Black daughters is a man
in their life---in this case, their biological father---who loves and
cherishes them beyond any other. Even beyond me.
It sounds retro, old fashioned to say it. Maybe "conservative" and "anti-progressive." Certainly anti-feminist. But.
My Black daughters need at least one man in their life who feels this way about them. All
Black daughters do. Black daughters who do not have such a man in their
lives as children may struggle as grown women. Many of these grown
Black women---straight or lesbian or bisexual or otherwise---will waste
years of their lives trying to find a glimmer of themselves as
wonderful beings in the eyes of men, never knowing what it is in those
eyes that they should be looking for. They may mistake possessiveness
for protection. Violence for passion. Sex for love.
Thinking back, I was probably not the Black daughter at adolescence that my own mother hoped for. How can one young woman (i.e., me) be so arrogant and contrary about everything---from
spirituality to my bedroom decor, from music to academics, from my
treatment of my little sister to the meaning of life?
try to remember my own saltiness as I enter new relationship phases
with my own mother, and as my daughters move from little girls to
pre-teens. I try to remember---as my mother's words flow from my mouth,
and my daughters hear these words with my former ears---that this is
just a stage, just one way station on a long path.
But it is a journey that must be navigated with sensitivity if I want to arrive at the next stage with daughters who respect me.
And who will not cringe when, one day, they hear my own words come out of their mouths.
...Sometimes I am cynical about what my daughters' world will be. I look around and see signs that do not fill me hope....
Then other times, I think otherwise. I may be standing in a hot
shower, five minutes past my alarm clock siren and 30 minutes before my
first sip of coffee, and my mind chains together several links of
good---or at least, not-so-bad---Signs; and in a moment of clarity I
realize how much power I have to ensure that my daughters' world will
be a gift and not a curse.
It is important to hold onto those moments, even in times of hopelessness and cynicism.
Especially in times of hopelessness and cynicism.
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