In 2005, playwright and film producer Tyler Perry released his first cinematic tale, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” of an uneducated black woman who was married to a wealthy black attorney. After 18 years of marriage, her husband left her — with no money, home or career — for his non-black mistress.
A year later, Perry released “Family Reunion,” a film that featured a single mother of two who was just as unhappy.
Perry’s movies feed the stereotype that black women are mad, angry and bitter.
Well, it’s not true.
It’s movies such as those and articles simliar to the one FinancesOnline.com published Wednesday, “Mother’s Day — Will Black American Moms Be Celebrating It?” that creates forced competition between races and women.
The article questioned whether black mothers would celebrate the one day America honors all mothers.
While the author supported his or her claims with startling statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau 2009 report, including black mothers have twice less to spend financially than Asian mothers and black mothers are less educated than white mothers, the author fed into that mad, angry and bitter stereotype.
While those statistics are damning, it is just one more reminder that black women as a people have been left out of the American Dream. But it should not surprise us.
When we arrived in this country, black people were used as slaves. We were forced to leave our own children to play mammies to white children. And, even as our current president is a black man, black women are still being objectified in music videos and in songs by our black brothers.
But slavery didn’t keep black mothers from taking pork bones and greens and turning it into home-cooked meals. Taking care of someone else’s children didn’t keep black mothers out of Sunday school and church services. And having little money and little help won’t keep us from celebrating Mother’s Day!
This is not a lesson on black mothers; it is a lesson on motherhood.
There are two types of values – tangible ones and intangible ones.
For centuries, mothers have had to work with less – less money, less education, less help from a
male figure, less respect and less appreciation. But we’ve done it. The author in that article questioned whether black mothers would be able to find enough “joy” to celebrate Mother’s Day.
Joy is not circumstantial; happiness is. For a mother, joy lies in that child’s smile, in that child’s cry and in that child’s very being.
No matter how much a mother struggles, her children are what keep her going. No matter what is going wrong, being a mother is very thing that will hold you together. Black mothers have gone through far more than we should, but we have survived because we’ve held onto the intangible values.
If you are looking for a mad, angry and bitter black woman, go watch a movie. Because even though these statistics are reality, they are also confirmation of why we should celebrate Mother’s Day.
And, if you’re going to paint what life is like for black American mothers, you better paint us with a strong backbone and a smile.
Tunette Powell is married with two children. You can read her every Tuesday on momaha.com
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