All posts filed under: Culture

Legacy | Love Follows Loss

When my relationship with my twins’ other parent ended, the negotiations began. We both agreed on the importance of parenting our twins with consistency and love. Out of that sprang the decision to designate Friday nights as Special Nights, each taking a twin on alternating Fridays so they could do whatever they wanted. I was excited as I settled in for my special night with Gina. She was 14, old enough to introduce her to Harold and Maude, my absolutely favorite movie. We sat close together on the couch, legs up on the reclining footrest, lights dim and tummies full of macaroni and cheese, her favorite. The familiar scenes unfolded until the climax arrived, when Harold tells Maude he hasn’t lived, although he had faked his death a number of times. I had been hungry to watch this film with her, to let the wisdom within the script infiltrate her blood as it had infiltrated mine so many years before. “Mami.” I ignored Gina, caught in the emotion of the scene. Watching Harold cry, I was one …

“Do not forget about black mothers and our voice”: Deesha Philyaw in conversation with Denene Millner

Denene Millner. Where do I begin? When I first came across her work, she was in  a class of writers that felt like my own special literary crew: black authors writing every day black stories for specifically black audiences. I reveled in the words. This was my first time in a long time reading strictly for entertainment. To say a “yes! Humph!” and have an occasional kissing of my teeth. They were a vital part of my youth; as important as air when I was submerged in texts that were strictly academic for what felt like forever at that point. They were also my realistic inspiration. I wanted to be a writer. I struggled with what that might look like coming from a working class Jamaican household. Denene was the architect in more than one arena in my life. I started reading My Brown Baby well before I became a mother. She was the only woman whose words I could resonate with. I always felt like my girlfriend was letting me in on another secret …

Legacy | Comprehension over Career

Jesse Williams succinctly and boldly broke down the imperative of the Black Lives Matters movement in his Humanitarian award acceptance speech at the recent BET awards on June 26th, voicing anger, sadness, and inspiration. So powerful were his bald, unabashed, raw truths, the Internet racist powers did everything they could to delete his words and the videos of the speech. For me, this was a further validation of the times we have always lived in as parents, educators, artists, organizers, and warriors. His outrage was proven to be true and timely in this last month of death and racism. Jesse thanked his parents who taught him “to focus on comprehension over career” and make sure he learned what, “the schools were afraid to teach us.” His words caused me to reflect on my involvement in my children’s education, both inside and outside of the classroom, when they entered a covertly racist and classist Berkeley, California public school system. I had chosen to work part-time since they were born, a strategy that had less to do …

Legacy | Is a ‘Good’ Break-up Possible?

  What is a ‘good’ break-up? I had never wanted to consider this a legacy, but it became necessary when I ended my relationship with their other mom just before my twins entered Kindergarten. When I decided to end my relationship, it was both about the person and about my clarity that I was not a lesbian. Such a monumental shift in my identity disoriented me. I had been seeking a sense of acceptance as a woman and it made sense that being with a tribe that valued my identification as female above all else attracted me. C and I met playing soccer and I was ripe to settle down in my early 30s. Over the ensuing years, our significant differences in race and class-consciousness eroded my initial attraction. We didn’t tell the twins for almost a year that we had ended our pretense that had achingly lengthened to seven years of being anything other than parenting partners. This allowed us time to think through a ‘break-up’ process that would be as undisruptive as possible …

Legacy | We Know Best Together

“Hey, mija, how’s it going with your new classroom and the third graders?” I ask Gina one night as we snuggle in my bed. “O…K”, she says. “Just OK?” “Well, they keep asking me,” her body turns away from mine and her voice becomes high and mocking, “‘Why do you have two mamas?’” “And you say…” “I say I don’t know. I don’t want to answer them.” Ouch. This unexpected jab goes from her heart into mine, and I reach out to gently stroke her silky brown hair. She recoils. Her guard is up, although the bridge across the moat to her corazón is not completely pulled shut. My mind races to protect myself with the sword of logic. This is their fifth year in a school district hailed for its diversity and open-mindedness. What haven’t I done to prepare her and her twin brother to answer this “two mama” question? “Lo siento, mi amor. I didn’t realize you would have to start from ground zero when I put you in George’s combined third and …