Yesterday, I was talking with a woman who was about the same age as myself, late fifties, and she was telling me about her childhood and as she did so, I could not help but gasp because we could have been sisters growing up in the same household as her experiences mirrored my own.
She was telling me of how the police had to be called to her home damn near every weekend and multiple times during the week over domestic assault issues. She also told me about the fights; the throwing of objects at each other and whatnot that her parents engaged in. She also spoke of the insults that she endured on a regular basis coming from her own mother. She told me how growing up in that environment only made her life turn out exactly like her mother’s. She married an abusive man, put up with untold abuse until she could no longer take it and divorced his ass. She told me that to this day, she has to distance herself from her mother and that her mother gets on her case because she is looking out for her sick father. She told me that even after telling her mother that her father has no one and that she, her mother, is married and has a husband to look after her, why does she have a problem with her helping out her ailing father? Her mother in fact told her that when she dyed her hair a Kool-aid burgundy color, “You look like a nigger!”
Now for those of you who read my blog titled, “A Letter To My Mother On Her 77th Birthday! Happy Birthday Mother,” then you know that what this lady told me is exactly what you have read on that blog. Again, we could have lived in the same household because her life mirrors mine down to a “T.”
Here is an excerpt from that blog:
I am going to attempt to find the words to convey just what emotions you evoke in me mother; hate, disgust, loathing and yes…pity, for you are so despicable, nasty and hateful that no one wants to come around you and I actually pity you. I spent so many years trying to gain affection from you that was never yours to give because you hate yourself. You loathe yourself for why else would you stay with a man who, when you were pregnant with me, your first baby, threw you a quarter when you told him you were hungry and he said, upon throwing you a quarter, “Here, I wouldn’t want to see a dog hungry.” And yet you thought so little of yourself that not only did you continue to lie with that slug, you brought two more children into this world to be condemned to live with two people who hated each other. We learned to hate as well.
As you can see, it is crystal clear that many Black women loathe themselves; have no respect for themselves, feel as though they are worthless since they will settle for an abusive asshole who beats their asses and yet they stay with them year after year and those mothers take that shit out on their children. They subject their children to untold cruelties and then are pissed at their children for the rest of their life for becoming a mirror image of them. That shit’s not on your children, that shit’s on you! Your self-loathing and lack of respect for yourself is something that you never dealt with and you subjected your children to your own lack of self worth. You became a punching bag; an outlet for some no good man to take his frustrations out on. You subjected your children; those you CHOSE to bring into this world to a life of sheer torture, pain, terror, racism and some more shit and they were ill-prepared to deal with that shit! You gave them no means in which to be guided through the system of white supremacy that you know exists because you live under that oppressive system. You gave your children an added burden; the burden of trying to maneuver through a system that was evil to its core and lethal to your children while they also had the extra burden of your baggage to carry around with them. You set them up for failure. You did your best to see to it that your children would suffer, mightily. And we have. You did us no favors. We had an enemy from our own camp to set us up and then tossed us to another enemy on a battlefield on which we never stood a chance. We were not prepared because we were damaged goods already before we even knew what was going to hit us. How do you Black mothers who have done this to your children, live with yourselves? If you could not handle life as a Black woman, then why bring Black children into despair and horror that is the world you exist in that makes you loathe and hate yourself? Your children will not thank you for what you did; hurled them out into a world they were ill-prepared for and told them to sink or swim. And yet you castigated us and treated us with derision when we made decisions that mirrored your own. We took our cue from you. We learned at your knee. We looked to you. That shit’s not on us, it’s on you! You are why you hate us. You ‘gifted’ us with no silver spoons, but with tarnished hearts, battered bodies and broken minds, helpless and barely adrift in a sea of hate everywhere we turned, even when we turned to you..our mothers. What chance did we stand? How could we have turned out any better than we did? And yet you mothers of us blame us for why we are your mirror image. You act as though, we, somehow, should have emerged from a chrysalis to a well-rounded adult free from issues and with the ability to take on a world that hated the very sight of us because of our skin color.
No Black mothers! We have you to thank for refusing to realize that your actions would have consequences and those consequences would come right back to you. You get no thanks from us because you are due none. We cannot thank you for bequeathing us so little and yet expecting so much from us in return. We can only give you what you gave us; nothing more. And yet you expect much from us. Oh yes, we are YOUR children, but we are battered children. We suffer from YOUR abuse. We have “Battered Children’s Syndrome,” and it is very real. And we’re not talking merely about the physical battering of us, but more importantly, the mental battering of us. That was worse. The resulting scars from that are far more lasting and damaging than the physical ones. I can still see some of the physical damage on my body from the whippings and beatings, but by far, the mental damage is much, much worse. Where does a child turn when their own mother is their very first enemy? Where does a child turn when they face an enemy that hates them because they were born and to whom they were born hates them because she hates herself? Where? Can someone tell me? Tell us? Because there are many “me’s” out there! The lady that I spoke with told me that she thought she was the only one. I assured her that she was not. She actually sighed in relief when she heard that because she thought it was just her. Oh, how wrong she was. And oh how right I wish she had been.
And so it is true that this poem taken from that other blog to my mother is to ALL the Black children who are broken and who were broken before they ever experienced hatred from the rest of the world, but knew it coming from their own mother.
Happy Birthday Mother!
Yes, you brought me into this world;
a squalling little Black baby girl.
You belittled everything I ever did
and you beat me for nothing when I was a kid.
You want me to honor, love and respect you
when what I did was from you, take my cue.
I have never known what love is and I never will.
Not one tear for love will my eyes ever spill.
I’ve been called cold, callous and cruel,
but never have I been called, “love’s favorite fool.”
I know that this should be all about your day,
and it is in its own strange and morbid way.
There is just something that needs saying
because in this town where you live, I’m not staying.
I have come running every time you’ve ever called
and listened to each admonishment on my character, you’ve drawled.
That stops here and now because I don’t need you anymore.
I never really did but I’ve just got to settle the score.
When you talked about me to your acquaintances, that hurt.
But knowing what you are mother, I’m an expert.
I’ve watched you down through the years
send people packing with words sharper than shears.
I’ve listened to you drone on about how great you are
when you are too evil and wicked for hell by far.
You’ve got foul names for everyone you ever meet.
The language you use, the derogatory names, you bleat
to anyone who will come within your reach.
You sit on your ass and search for an invective to screech.
Then you have the nerve to wonder why you sit home alone
and that to this very day, there’s nothing for you to atone.
But your day is coming mother. It may not be here yet,
but then again, you may already be paying your debt.
Your favorite one of us died from drugs years ago
and the man you couldn’t leave hated your ass from the get-go.
Even his friends said he died to get away from you
and this I can believe because I’d do the same thing too.
So sit in your big falling down house and think,
think of all the reasons why you should take to drink.
Believe that you are good and that all others are at fault
And you’ll still deny your evilness when they lower you in that vault.
And lower you they will mother, for we must all go that route.
But don’t you think for one second that your ‘goodness’, I will tout.
You are evil personified and though I may drop dead first,
at least I’ll have the pleasure of knowing that your ass is accursed.
You will lie beside a man who hated you to the end.
Your youngest died years ago and she was a dope fiend.
And yet you blame us for problems we never placed at your door
even though you share the blame because we are what you bore!
Shelby I. Courtland
©2019 Shelby I. Courtland
To the Black mothers who are like mine and the lady that I mentioned in this blog, this is our thanks to YOU! You’ve ‘earned’ it!