A few weeks back Elev8 posted a story that generated a great deal of buzz. The story was called In New Book “Call Tyrone”, Pastor Advises Black Women To Stay Single. Here exclusively on Elev8 you will read the first chapter that you cannot read anyplace else.
Pastor Jomo K. Johnson penned his new tome “Call Tyrone: Why Black Women Should Remain Single Or… “ in response to what he witnessed within his North Philadelphia flock.
Here is Part One.
“Why Black Women Should Remain Single Or…” By Jomo K. Johnson
My back breaks under the weight,
mouth curls at the taste, eyes dim
at the state I left you in. Your pain,
my sin, a crime against
one who shares my skin. I
found it unnecessary to find
the reason or rhyme to
keep with time and
created my Hottentot Venus;
worshiped my quadroon queen,
perpetuated “mammy” against any
lady lacking cream in her coffee.
I bundled you up in nothing but
skin, placed you in a cage
on the world’s stage, acted out my rage in ways
my own mother would call dire.
I braced for you to cave, retaliate, but
you gave me love for my hate, and still you
wait for a moment in time when I make up
my mind to make my wrongs right.
I suppose I will once… I acknowledge
every emotional punch I’ve thrown and
landed in the face of the face of the Nubians
from which I came.
Blows as sharp as a razor’s edge, numerous
as the unborn dead, blistering as Apollo’s
gaze, persistent as the moon in every phase.
I must make this up to you.
For all I wish I did not say and the lonely
chromosomes I abandoned while I played;
the way you cried every time I looked in your eyes
and lied, still expecting you to stand by me;
for the shame of a race of boys with men’s’ parts who
rape your minds and pummel your hearts with lies
that you are not good enough because we are
out of touch with our own reality…
Searching even now, considering how, my actions
have shaped, molded, your current truth. Peering deep
within you searching for the remnant of me when I
was a king and you were my queen,
I need you to believe
that I am sorry.
I. Dear Mama
“In a child’s eyes, a mother is a goddess. She can be glorious or terrible, benevolent or filled with wrath, but she commands love either way. I am convinced that this is the greatest power in the universe.”― N.K. Jemisin
Memory can be the damnedest thing, especially to a child. With it our minds record and recall the most wonderful moments of our lives while shaping the inner fabric of our identities. With one firing of the brain’s synapses, memories are translated into moments from which we can derive inexplicable joy or utter fear. A mother or father doting over us, a childhood game, a school play, a first crush; all have the ability to arouse within us emotions of sheer nostalgia and bliss. Yet with these stored reservoirs of psychological and mental treasure often come memories of pain, neglect, or deliberate abuse. Consider the child living in poverty or the willful neglect of his or her basic needs. Think of the young girl that has experienced the horror of sexual abuse. While it may have occurred decades earlier in her life, it still has the ability to emerge out of the shadows and haunt her. Or take into consideration my own memory as a 4-year old: the image of a gaping bullet wound in my mother’s chest inflicted by the hands of my own father.
An expert on childhood memory from Chicago Medical School, Dr. Lise Eliot writes, “Anything you learn (in the first five years) is said to store a memory. But we distinguish conscious and unconscious memory. Probably ninety percent of what we do happens at this unconscious level, especially in young children.” Seeing that such a large percentage of our ability to remember information comes from our early childhood, it would serve us well to begin to reexamine our childhood memories of the role of the black woman – as mother, wife, and provider.
Make sure that you read: Wow…One Woman Marries Self
In 1992, First Lady of Gospel Music, Shirley Caesar released her classic album, “I Remember Mama,” which featured the title track of the same name. Although the song was released relatively late in Caesar’s famed career, the song embodied the spirit of soul of the history and culture of the black woman throughout the 20th century. Born in 1938, Caesar was raised and lived through some of the most tumultuous times in the African-American experience and was the product of a generation that saw the end of slavery, the institution of voting rights for blacks, and the initial beginning of the civil rights movement. This song serves as a lyrical time capsule by which the listener is able to peer through the struggle, plight, and triumph of the black woman. Caesar writes:
I remember mama,
And the love that she gave
Kneeling by her bed side
I can still hear mama say,
“The people are depending on you, Shirley,
Don’t you let them down”
I remember mama in a happy way
We went to school with holes in our shoes
We didn’t have much but the Lord saw us through
Mama kept the family together
I remember mama in a happy way
She packed our lunch in an old greasy bag
It might’ve seemed empty,
But it was more than others had
It had a lot of love way down deep inside and
I remember mama in a happy way
Now mama is sleeping in the bosom of Jesus Christ.
Caesar, being the tenth of 12 children, grew up seeing her mother forced to raise the family after her father, a North Carolinian tobacco worker, died when she was 12 years old. Because of this reality, the future Grammy award winner and spiritual inspiration for many in the black church, would receive a panoramic view of black motherhood during arguably the most challenging time in African-American history: the Civil Rights movement. The song strikes an emotional chord with many in her generation and serves as a prototypical model of what the black woman – as mother is meant to be.
The black woman as mother is the personification of enduring strength in the face of constant struggle and challenge. The visibility of this strength becomes intensely magnified when one dissects it through the lens of American social and cultural life. From the very onset of the African woman’s advent into America she has had to endure brutal and egregious treatment from the hand of her American slave captors. The black African woman was delivered to America through the womb of the slave ship – that torturous vessel that will forever be associated with the worst of American ills.
The slave ship was particularly malevolent to the black woman. She was instantly and without warning separated from land and home. This created the immediate severing of the family relationship which, at the core, was motherhood. She would not only lose her statehood of native mother – being instantly separated from her children through slave trade, but now she would be subjected to the most subhuman environment on the arduous slave ship. African-Americans know far too little of the black woman’s plight in coming to the Americas. The slave ship, for African women, was the place of isolation and sexual vulnerability; women were valued in price by their bodies and genitalia and not their God-given dignity and human beings.
Barbara Bush writes in the book, Slave Women In Caribbean Society, “Officers were reputed to ‘indulge their passions among slave women at pleasure’ and were ‘sometimes guilty of such excesses as disgrace human nature. ’ Common sailors were also allowed intercourse with “such of the black women whose consent they can secure.” The very unique features of African mother-hood, the bare breasts to nurse, the stoutly hips and thighs to carry and bear children, were exploited as European males saw these characteristics as traits of sexual depravity and vulgarity. It was only natural that these characteristics would be used to create stereotypes that could be used to justify the abuse and enslavement of black women.
It could be argued that the forced submission, subservience, and sexual slavery of the black woman were part of a greater indoctrination. How could it be that such a strong race of women that historically served as the backbone to the sub-Saharan African family and government were now being reduced to mere property, seen more so for procreating, picking cotton, and pandering, than nurturing and nourishing a family? The African woman would forever be changed because of slavery. And if she was going to continue to exist in America, she would have to evolve from Matriarch to Survivor.
Tomorrow Part II – “Eternal Mom”
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