Once long ago in a make-believe world far away, a little Black girl was born in a private hospital on a clear winter day. She had a mother, a father, married to each other…and lots of friends and family, and with them came lots of love and support and understanding. Then one day she had a family of her own, married someone, and lived happily ever after. The End.
#not … Where’s “Shrek”? Twisted and Fractured Fairy Tales, as in, didn’t happen.
There is always some challenge to write an entire story with all of its underlying elements in less than 100 words or in a number of words, like, oh say, “six.” For example: “For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.” I’ve seen entire books written in film splices within the span of four minutes or less, see “Trump Trackdown” on YouTube. Star newswriter Toure’ did it in four words: “The Power of Whiteness.”
Some people have a natural knack for getting it done and getting it done quickly. Then there are those of us who are just a tad verbose, but succinct when we say what we say.
I have a bit to say about folks who stereotype and baby-bash single Black mothers, yet don’t include single white mothers while they are squaring off on us.
When I think about my oldest son, the first to break open my womb, this story comes with difficulty.
I tried to write it on his 39th birthday on New Years Day, but the words would not come because it wasn’t time. So, here goes …
There is nothing like the birth of your own very first child, or even your very first own grandchild, boy or girl.
Nothing is equal to it in wonder and joy and fantasy about what can be someday and maybe something a lot better than the hand dealt to you. There is also is nothing like it to let you know where you really stand with family and friends.
I played a scenario in my head about a friend who got knocked up by her boyfriend.
I remember crying about the fact that her wrongs were no more evil than mine, yet I was treated so differently and so evilly. Another friend had to remind me of something I had forgotten. The difference was that she had family support and insider love. That is why two wrongs (that weren’t really all that wrong, on hindsight) went two entirely separate ways. She did not have alcoholics, addicts, and abusers for parents and neither did her ‘baby daddy’; but I did. And it made a huge difference in the way we were treated, even with the exact same issue, an out of wedlock pregnancy, at hand. It made a huge difference in the way our lives went in the long term, in two totally different directions.
There is joy and pain, sunshine and rain, with the eldest child like no other. Somehow, in that firstborn child-girl or boy, there is a bit of hope left in you that one day you might have a family of your own, a fresh start, a new beginning, A REAL family like the one you didn’t get at birth–especially since you were born to a family that was already busted up and broken when you arrived and nothing you’ve done or said as an adult has worked to resolve it.
You become fascinated with families, real ones that, in spite of the fights, arguments, name-tossing and anything else the enemy can toss at them to cause dissension and hurt, decide to hang together, stick it out and be together regardless of the fact that you know that that “drunk uncle” is going to show up and aggravate everybody to death.
Yet when a Black man follows suit with white rapist plantation slavemasters, the original “baby daddies” who abandoned Black women and their half-Frican children, abandons a Black woman and her Black child and then comes back too late hollering about what “she” did wrong, it is no wonder that they so easily side with white people and gang up on her, which makes her have to run to other white people just to see justice done and child support paid.
There was a time when white folks weren’t necessary to our well-being. We birthed our own, we took care of our own-no matter what-and we didn’t go using the likes of them as leverage to tear each other down. However, those days are done and doner.
It is a solitary fact that Black men are the single biggest cause of Black women and children in poverty and on welfare. There are exceptions, of course, but we’re not talking about the exception to this rule, we’re talking about the norm with respect to Black single mothers. Of course, men who do not practice the fine art of putting an “aspirin between their knees” can’t go off blaming Black women for what they fully participated in themselves.
Of course, there are more reasons why Black women end up raising children alone…widowhood, ultimate divorce, voluntary adoption, a decision to single parent by visiting a sperm bank, dad’s illness, et al … not just because of abuse, abandonment and neglect; but no one seems to care the reasons why because the stereotypes say it all. Black girls grow up thinking “someday their Prince” will show up, too, just like white girls with “Cinderella Syndrome”. But when they do land on welfare, just like a single white or Mexican mom, the story is told just a bit differently.
Single white and Mexican moms are not responsible for their sons “going gay” or becoming criminal element, those are the child’s bad choices alone. But a Black man will jump on a racial stereotype about a single Black mother faster than D. White Mann can blink and say it first. Like some “snitching rapper,” Black men are the only men in the world who make beats and rhythmic sounds in recording studios just to sell tracks while using white people’s hatred of mostly Black women to demean his own female kith, kin and kind.
An Amazon PRIME movie called “Mr. Church” was based on a true life friendship about a ‘magic negro’–as Bill O’Reilly so crassly put it–and starred Eddie Murphy. Murphy’s character, Mr. Church “My Dear,” had extraordinary cooking skills that brought certain “salvation” to a single white mother and her white daughter who also became a single white mother.
The only time the movie made a tilt toward racism was at the very beginning when the little girl runs to her mother’s room and says “Mama, there’s a Black man in the kitchen cooking eggs!” Not a man, not “Mama, there’s a stranger in the kitchen,” but a BLACK MAN. After that, everybody else seemed not to notice that Mr. Church was Black. White folks do that in real life, pretend they don’t see color when they really do. But I waited for the next shoe to drop on the race/color thing, but it never did.
I thought about all of the racial stereotypes that even Eddie Murphy would have embraced and co-signed if the cancer-ridden single mother were Black and her cook of any race or ethnicity.
I mean, sad this idea should occur to me while watching such an endearing and heart-aching movie, which was very well-written; but this is the reality we live in that they say is “reverse racism” if I so much as talk about the truth.
Had she been a Black character, she would have been for white folks entertainment only.
She would have been loud and angry and had a “bad attitude,” a vicious demeanor, been rolling her neck, snapping her fingers and hand-waving all over the place with 9-inch nails and flipping her weave is if she didn’t know she was sick and these words would be a legacy to leave her child. She would have been making trite little biting comments just the way white folks cook it up; and there would have been few if any soft tender-hearted moments with a dying mother trying to protect her own lone child from her youthful demise.
Never Mind a White Bitch …
People, the at-large public, loves to beat up on Black single mothers and say things like how they turn their own sons into “fags and sissies” and their daughters into “bitches and whores,” but the truth is…I’ve seen more fags, dykes, sissies, whores, and bitches come out of two-parent homes than a little bit.
One would like to believe that a clock-timer fantasy about a romantic television set “two-parent home” is the main key for true Black family preservation, but I mean, come on …
In the real world, Marvin Gaye was raised in a two-parent home with a father who killed him after a drugged out binge and a domestic altercation; Michael Jackson was raised in a two-parent home and died a horrible death considering the fantasy life he lived. Whitney Houston, raised by two loving outstanding parents, died with a body wracked with pills and alcohol drowned in a hotel bathtub. If two parents were an answer, no one could tell by looking at them.
Bringing it closer to home, the father of my three oldest sons was raised in a two-parent home and still chose to be an uneducated druggard with a history of criminality rather than to follow his own parents’ example and work hard to take care of his children no matter what was going on around him. His own boys-my grown sons-are better Black men than he was even with all his two-parent privileges in life — homes, nice clothes, cars and all; and that’s the absolute truth.
Were their horrid actions a reflection of their parents, or lack of parents…or their own personal choices?
There were also celebs raised in single parent homes who did quite well for themselves in life with or without the extraneous over-arching drama of tightknit families.
Bill and Camille Cosby raised all five of their children in a solid family home environment filled with privileges most Black children will never know; yet they had a deviant daughter, at least one of the four, who did what she wanted to do in spite of her parents upbringings, money, fame, and teachings. They lost their only son, Ennis, but that’s a whole ‘NOTHER story all together about the grief of losing a child to random white violence — stories that could have been my own at one time and could be any of ours any moment of any day. Black single mothers aren’t the only ones who lose children to prisons and violence, and are certainly not the only ones who lose family dynasties to non-procreative homosexuality.
I do not and did not advocate for ‘broken families’, whole families are absolutely necessary; but not when one of the two parents are a worse option than just being left alone. The “Magic Kingdom” of Disney-like two-parent homes did not and does not stop anyone from making personal choices, some to the untimely ending of their own lives. Yes, single mothers and two-parent families alike bury early-deceased children. And I’m certain it hurts just as much either way, though I do not want to EVER know that pain.
The Pain of Loss: Dead While Living
And that brings me back to this oldest child of mine, who nearly lost his life in a horrible motorcycle accident with his wife riding on the back of it at the time.
I cannot imagine this world without him somewhere in my mind from birth to this moment on his 39th anniversary of life. I am grateful he is here in spite of his father and the way I was treated for giving him life.
I cannot imagine my grandchildren not being here and growing up without either of their parents at such a tender age; and I certainly cannot imagine what their two children would do without him (and their mother) in their own lives.
What I can imagine is that he WILLFULLY chose not to take the same path as his own father, and for that I am truly grateful.
He was –and is– a quality HIGH-SPIRITED young man who reminds me a lot of my mother’s brothers…he made his own way in life in spite of his lost, over-taxed and egregiously unloved mother, and in spite of his negligent, abusive, and abandoning father.
I couldn’t be prouder. I at least earned that much.
[FYI: He isn’t gay (none of my four sons I tried to raise alone are)], nor does he follow in the footsteps of his father. He decided to do what no one else could decide for him, be a real Black man. Not perfect, but real.
No parent, single or otherwise, is ever responsible for the choices of their adult children. Ever.
May the Lord’s will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.
PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Urban Intellectuals, affiliates or partners.