Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Who Knew That Rebecca and Alice Walker had So Much Funk?


Rarely do we ever hear about black families, namely mommas and daughters working through the kind of funk that we experience with our mommas.

As someone who has had a tulmultous realtionship with my mother (I love her BUT she crazy 'yall), I felt Rebecca when she was comfortably ambilivent about being on speaking terms w/ her momma.

She was both optimistic and unsure about what she was going to do when her son wanted to meet his grandmother.
With Bill Cosby going on all of his Black parenting rants, I realize that there is a lack of public discourse about Black families, and the day to day sh*t that brings cats together and also tears them apart.

What does Jordan's son have to say about him and their relationship?
Magic Johnson's children?
What does Cosby's daughter have to say about theirs?

Maia Cambell, now that her momma just passed?

Danny Glovers Daughter?

Peep what Rebecca has to say in this Times Review of her new book Baby Love,

But it is also unusual in that it is a pregnancy book with a message for women who are not yet pregnant, amplifying a theme Ms. Walker sounds on the undergraduate lecture circuit.

“I keep telling these women in college, ‘You need to plan having a baby like you plan your career if it’s something that you want,’ ” she said. “Because we haven’t been told that, this generation. And they’re shocked when I say that. I’m supposed to be like this feminist telling them, ‘Go achieve, go achieve.’ And I’m sitting there saying, ‘For me, having a baby has been the most transformational experience of my life.’ ”

It seems to me, from Rebecca's comment that historically, having a baby HAS not been seen AS an acheivement. And perhaps that is part of the problem itself.

Perhaps, like to our career goals, it needs to be framed as a something to work towards along with something that sorta just "happens", or someting
that we are ambivlent about.

The artiles touches on what happens when your momma is a famous writer.

Ms. Walker’s own evolution, from wounded daughter to earth mother, was perhaps particularly significant because “she was raised in a more radical zone,” Ms. Baumgardner said.

There is a tradition of feminist writing about pregnancy and motherhood, but not everyone had such a complex mother-daughter dynamic to process.

Alice Walker “gave to the world this incredible thing,” Ms. Baumgardner said. “But what you want from your parents is parenting.”

Rebecca and her momma got some of that millenial funk. My sister and my momma funk like that. I think they ain't spoke since was '01. All bad.
Ms. Walker and her mother have a complicated love, according to Rebecca. In high school, Rebecca legally changed her last name from Leventhal to Walker because, as she put it in “Black, White and Jewish,” she wanted to link herself to her mother “tangibly and forever” and to associate herself with blackness because she does not feel “an affinity with whiteness, with what Jewishness has become.” (That last sentiment, which is echoed in other parts of the memoir, led several publications to criticize it for reinforcing stereotypes.)
I am curious as to what sterotype was she reinforcing?

Here is Rebecca's Blog.

In an Essence article from '95 Rebecca discusses the "Pine Box Incident" in a warm, critical and reflective way,
When I was just 8 years old, my mother had me crawl into bed beside her before asking me to take some dictation. "When I die," she said as if she were telling me which clothes to lay out for the next day, "make sure I am buried in a simple pine box. And play lots of Stevie Wonder. My funeral should be a celebration!" Dutifully, I began to write--"P-i-n-e b-o-x, S-t-e-v-i-e W-o-n-d-e-r"--on the yellow legal pad she placed on my lap. I don't remember what I felt then as my mother asked me to prepare for a time when she would no longer be present. Now, after reliving certain childhood moments in an attempt to understand them and myself better, I imagine that I did what I always tried to do for my mama. I tried to be who and what she needed me to be at the time. Instead of asking her all the hideous questions running scared through my child-mind--Mama, are you going to die? Mama, are you leaving me? Mama, who will take care of me? Mama, what about us?--I simply memorized the funeral plan to the letter and cheerfully assured her I would take care of everything.

It reminds me of how OUR stories of pain, love and forgivness are largely missing among the American pop culture canon.

I have heard similar fears from other women whose working mothers had leave them alone for greater parts of the day or night, depending on them to "take care of things"; or who, because of some other circumstance beyond their control, usually abuse or neglect, were unable to get the kind of constant unconditional love that young children crave. Listening to their stories, it becomes clear why individuation is often so difficult for young women. We fear that if we go our own way, off into our destinies outside of our mothers' desires, we will surely perish. We will die of aloneness.

Rebecca ain't never lied on that. Between my money being funny and the ice storm, my plans this last weekend were screwed.

I spent 30 hours by myself this weekend.
That was 6pm Saturday to 10 am Monday morning.

While I did talk to people on the phone, there is something to be said for spending THAT much time by youself.

I spend Sunday reading, making evidence flash cards, teaching myself the doctrine of functionality in trademark law.

I would argue that this weekend was part of the individuation process that Rebecca mentioned above.

My Friday night date w/ TL fell apart. I thought I was gonna go to Boston for the Black Law Student conference. But I didn't register and the ice storm came. I called him on Thursday, he never confirmed w/ me so....that fell apart.

Saturday. No conference.

Sunday. March Madness was poppin and there was a Knicks game, but nobody was trying come outside and play so I kicked it w/ the books.

Watchall think about this? Ummmmm mommas and daughters.

What ever happend to Lisa Jones, Baraka's daughter?


neo said...

I'm looking @ homegirl's pic and thinking, "dang shawty looks like neen tho" HAA!

I think this is an interesting socio piece. It'd be interesting to hear my sisters' perspective on what their r/ship with moms is. I can only say based off what I saw growing up back home, it did get rough attimes btw them both...matta fact I remember when my sis told me she got along better with pops...but that was then..

I think they've come to understand one another and be able to come together and talk things through...

you need to do one on on us dudes vs. our fathers

Janine said...

it's funny because i don't understand feminism as an attack on motherhood. most feminism i've encountered embraces women as mothers, and any other role they choose to take on. i don't think feminism necessarily keeps women from embracing motherhood, so this feminist fear of motherhood that rebecca is fighting is alien to me.

mothers and daughters just naturally have issues of resentment and attachment.

for adult women, i'm not sure it's so much an issue that we won't exist outside of our mothers, but rather that our mothers will vanish if we come into our own.

in some ways, i think being scared to let go for fear that you won't be able to live without your mother is a sign of an overbearing or neglectful mother.

you're right though - mothers and daughters aren't discussed meaningfully, especially black mothers and daughters.

*if this posts twice, blame blogger

Dj Triple Threat said...


You made a Black guurrrrl blush.


I am NOT as BAD as rebecca although I aspire.....Heeeeeeeeey.

And they fathers eigh?

Lemme see what I can do.

Dj Triple Threat said...

i think being scared to let go for fear that you won't be able to live without your mother is a sign of an overbearing or neglectful mother.

Well see. Thats the Alize/Rebecca rub.

Feminism said "GO do you".

But Alice and Rebecca have funk b/c Alice "did her" for long assed periods when 'Becca wasn't a teenager. So. My 'Becca has resentment towards her mother for not being there.


Don't we all?

Janine said...

I'm saying, though, this works as a condemnation of feminism, but it seems like there was something deeper going on between Rebecca and Alice. Like even if Alice was not in any way interested in feminism, she would not have been there for her daughter.
I get suspicious whenever a feminist speaks negatively or generally about feminist values.
I can understand a woman being resentful of motherhood, but I don't think the blame lies solely with feminism.

Dj Triple Threat said...


Don't get it twisted J.

No one talks publicly about feminisim and family politics.

So it is reasonable for you to be suspect.

But peep how Alice and Rebecca are in between a Rock and a Hard Place.

A. Alice was a fmnst. So she was trying to do her.

B. Rebecca is a daughter and wanted to support her.

C. But in Alice "doing her" she had to leave Rebecca alone, consequently creating abandonment issues in their relationship.

D. THis dynamic exists in all families. However, it is particulary intersting their dynamic because both Walkers are Public Feminist.

E. I feel rebecca. Our parents generation said go to school, go to school, but none of them talked about the baby blues, Black men who only want white women after they graduate, and the challenges of dating a street dude or a working class dude.

f. Rebecca deserves credit for advocating for babyplanning if that is IN FACT what you want. As oppose to being ambivilent about it, or ignoring it.

I hope that clarifies my position.

Don't you love that legal outline form.


Janine said...

Well, if it's in the form of an outline, how can I disagree with it?
I'm almost tempted to get into an argument with divisions and subdivisions
yeah that's right - subdivisions.

anyway, i think you're right, to a certain extent.

it's interesting, personally, thinking about babies and relationships now - when, how, and if those will work out. who i can be in a healthy relationship with, what i'll expect from whoever i end up with, etc.

everything changes when you've created a career.

i never really felt the conflict between career and values/motherhood in my relationship with my mother or in feminist works i've encountered.

from what i know, my mother has always been convinced you can successfully do both or whichever you want. this is probably why i'm not convinced that they have to conflict.
having a career and establishing yourself certainly makes motherhood/family more complicated, though.

and walker does deserve credit for addressing the conflict.

Dj Triple Threat said...

Now I see.

Perhaps your mum modeled for you in a way that many mommas haven't which is by talking about it AND being about it.

Your lucky!

m said...

i never considered the constant drama (and repeated disappearing acts) with mi madre in terms of being feminist collateral damage until you just said it. deep.

Dj Triple Threat said...

feminist collateral damage
I guess it is a kind of collat damage.

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