By Hakim Abdul-Ali
Next Sunday in the good old USA, there will be an observance day usually set aside for the yearly recognition and valued appreciation of the past and present mothers in our lives. Traditionally, it’s called Mother’s Day.
With the greatest respect to all the women in America, who are mothers of their respective ethnicity, let me be the first to salute each and everyone of you in “hue-manity” by extolling the greeting of “Happy Mother’s Day” to one and all. And with that sincere greeting, I also include the queens and princesses of the Afrikan-American culture, who are the nurturing maternal standard bearers of a legacy that has helped create and solidified the Black experience.
Today, I’m going to reminisce about the importance of the Black woman as a mother to us all. She is the very lifeblood of our present communities, our continuing heritage and our evolving culture, and we must never, ever forget that, especially in these debatable times.
So, in trying to continue where I want to go with my article this week, I’ll first reflect on a few past moms who played an important role in my development. Namely, they were my grandmother, Mrs. Mamie J. Simmons, my mother, Mrs. Margaret S. Orr, and my aunt, Mrs. Eva Rivers, all royal queens to the very end.
Though they are no longer alive, I affectionately and most humbly still called them “The Three Roses,” because they were so fragrant and instrumental in helping me being who I am toady. I could never write anything about the subject of any Mother’s Day topic without recognizing their love, wisdom, patience, kindness and guidance they shared with me in my growth processes into manhood.
Black women like “The Three Roses” are what makes and made Black culture so unique because they personify what motherhood was and still is about.
From the tortuous enslaved environs of their earliest arrivals in the land of the separate and unequal to today’s modern ebony liberated sister, the Black woman’s strength and fortitude has no equal.
She is something else, and that’s said with the utmost of respect, honor and dignity. As a Black man from the old school of understanding, I was always taught that in order to embrace the future you must first look at where you came from and, in soulful terms, that meant that everything originated from your first teacher–your mother.
My mother was a very spiritual lady and she was an ebony sovereign in the highest concept of the word. She was a revered schoolteacher by profession but she was also an individual who always taught me to be proud of who I was as a child of Afrikan descent, never having to look like someone else or being ashamed of who I am.
A favorite of my mother was the late renowned educator, Mary McLeod Bethune, a person my mother would quote oftentimes in my presence. One of her favorite quotes from Mrs. Bethune was, “I am a mother’s daughter, and the drums of Africa still beat in my heart. They will not let me rest while there’s a single Negro boy or girl without a chance to prove his worth.”
That theme resonates with me as I think of the modern Black nation’s plights in establishing its positive identity as a functioning and successful segment of American society. On this coming Mother’s Day, I’m recalling that Afrika is the world’s true mom who gave birth to everyone else in existence.
I remember reading something that came from the late poetess supreme Maya Angelo where she once said, “Africa herself is a mother. The mother of all mankind.” As I think of that simple, but ever-so-proud insight about Afrika, I’m humbled to be a child of the original Motherland. Hail to Afrikan women.
Somehow, even in today’s technological world of gadgets and commercialisms gone berserk, there’s a need for today mothers of our culture to not forget the wisdom of noble sisters like Mary McLeod Bethune and Maya Angelo and what they said about the Motherland. After all, Black children should learn first about their heritage from both of their parents, which is like a rite of educational passage in celebrating all of the mothers of “hue-manity” on Mother’s Day.
Today’s Black mothers are many and may be scattered everywhere, but they still face, in so many norms, untold challenges to their motherhoods just like their predecessors did in the past. The great intellectual and civil rights activist, Dr. W. E. B. DuBois, said “All womanhood is hampered today because the world on which it is emerging is a world that tries to worship both virgins and mothers and in the end despises motherhood and despoils virgins.”
The Afrikan family on Mother’s Day is in need of a total reboot to galvanize its unity in many instances but we can’t reach that goal unless the Black woman is recognized for who she really is and potentially can be. Brothers of color have to realize that our women are our bedrocks of our communities and they’re the queens of our mutual kingdoms, therefore every day should be recognized as Mother’s Day when it comes to signaling their regal importance with prima donna respect.
Politician Shirley Chisholm, who once ran for the presidency of this land in 1972, said to Black men,”Black women are not here to compete and to fight with you, brothers. If we have hang-ups about being male or female, we’re not going to be able to use our talents to liberate all our black people.” On Mother’s Day and forever we should embrace the very nature of Mrs. Chisholm’s emphasis on liberation, something that we must embrace if we are to be universally respected folk.
For me, as an older brother in our community, I sincerely trust that all the brothers in our nation recognize the importance of all the sisters in our culture with love and respect. We wouldn’t be here without them, no matter how we interpret that thought.
Afrikan-minded brothers have to encourage and support our queens and princesses to be the very best that they can be. “Hail to the Mothers of Our Culture” because they are the bona fide teachers of our children.
In closing, I think that everyday for the Black woman is Mother’s Day in my book of recognition because she is the reigning mother of all creation. J.A. Rogers, the awe-inspiring chronicler of Black “Our-story,” wrote, “The worship of the black woman as the mother of the human race goes back to the dimmest antiquity.”
To all aware current, past and future queens of antiquity, I humbly extend salutations of cheerful acknowledgements to you on Mother’s Day, which is, has been and will always be everyday. God bless you all, and for today and always, that’s, “As I See It.”