“I was the one who could always be given away. Nisa would never feel that. She would never know that. She would know that she was wanted, that she was wanted every day of her life. She was wanted before she even got here and she was wanted by her father and she was wanted by me. Me who looked like no one, came from nowhere. I looked at Nisa and was certain that as much as she came from me, I came from her.” (49)
“In 2000, the year my daughter was born, the nightly news reported that the only presidential campaign that was deeply rooted in the reclamation of family values was the one that was also headed up by a man who had signed 153 death warrants during his turn as governor.” (24)
“these are our heroes”
i’ve been riding the dundas streetcar a lot lately-and i must speak of an alarming coincidence. at least once in each of the past three weeks, i’ve witnessed a white mother call or refer to her brown baby as a “monkey”, “orangutang”, or “coconut”. they do know that they are part of the problem, right? i suppose i am sensitive because i am now reading about “food insecurity” in america, and i am wondering how much longer the connections between poverty, prison, hunger and mental health can be ignored.
“I would like a nation of schoolhouses that actually look like schoolhouses and not detention centers where even now, today, too many first graders are walking into their schools and their initial encounter is with cops and sometimes metal detectors, and so in case those children didn’t know it before, they know by the time they’ve walked through years of detectors, been watched by years of police officers, seen years of bars on windows, that whatever anyone told them, dreamed for them, they know their real destiny in this world is to one day be a prisoner. I would use that change.” (141)
“And now I look realistically at the people of this nation, realistically at myself, and know addiction and self-abuse and self-destructive behaviors are as American as apple pie. We may excoriate some and not others, but all that acting out begins at the same source, in the same river of pain, of disconnection.” (172)
i read ms. bandele‘s first book because of mumia and mark, and it occurred to me a little while ago to check for the rest of her books. i was thrilled to find that the library had at least this one. i recommend this continued account of her brave life negotiating love-romantic and self, motherhood, and social responsibility.
“The weight of destroying something that was created from a place of great love, destroying something that was part of me, part of us, was unbearable. I carried the weight once. To do it a second time would, literally, destroy me. I told Rashid this. In those raw, ragged days following the procedure, I promised Rashid that if I ever, ever became pregnant again, even if he was still in prison, I would have the baby.
Four years later, in 1999, I would have to stand by those words.” (20)
“As much as I love Rashid, I don’t want to be. I don’t want to spend my days and nights worried about the world of prisons and guards but I can’t imagine leaving this man alone, this man I made a child with. I want to curl up in a corner, sob, scream. I want to call a friend, tell her what’s happening. But I am at work. I am a mother. I cannot lose it. At work there is professional decorum. At home there is my baby, and my loss of calm destroys hers. Of course out in the street if you lose it and you’re Black, you’re doing time. I tell no one what’s happening, not for some time, not until I trust I can say the words, but devoid of emotion.” (81)
“you can’t refer to a baby as the third wheel”
one of my favourite mens told me that last thursday. but the feeling is real. let’s not pretend that things don’t change when small humans join the mix. and that people don’t stay together “for the kids”. but i also recognize that it’s a cycle of love and proof and in/security, one that while i don’t know for sure, i’ve found myself pondering vigorously as of late. just how women balance all of this, and the weight of the entire world, i’m not sure-but to all my mamas-i see you. hashtag, beauty-full.