Monday, October 25, 2010
A Womb Full of Wedding Cake
Its been no secret. I have an intense love of wedding cake and I am always delighted in the occasional invitation I receive. Its not the love of two people joining together that bring me glee...no, its not the potential retail therapy I will partake to find just the right dress for this glorious event...nah, not even the prospects of gossiping about my dear friend's special day, replete with cell phone videos (yes, your love is like the Holy Ghost), pictures (for your viewing pleasure), texts, and Tweets. After all that, its all about the cake for me. I want my cake and eat it, too.
Cliches aside, the wedding cake is one of the most endearing parts of the wedding for me. So much thought and art is put into such an element that will be ultimately shared and devoured by the masses. Married couples have their cake. Sommeliers savor their wine. A death row inmate in his final hour digests his last meal. Kids and their ice cream. Jimmy Dean and his sausage. Love and food...What must be nurtured can be devoured. What we grow, instill, celebrate, revere, and titillate about in this peculiar world cycles around. Sometimes what we endear the most can't be saved from the likes of ourselves.
The No Wedding/No Womb movement exists in this paradigm for me. Started by Christelyn Karazin, it began as a well-meaning dialogue to stop the bastardization of a generation of Black children. Now, cue all the hysterical YouTube videos you've seen in the last 5 years and Essence blogs that critique, delineate, and rally the Black heterosexual relationship...It probably sounded a bit like this: Black woman, you will not get married in your lifetime. Did you ever say to yourself in the last year, "I think Black men hate me." Even Oprah dabbled in Cleveland, Ohio's adopted son's home spun playa-gone-good brand of advice for riveted single Black women.
Steve Harvey became a nation of Black women's heroes and his stock rose so much, Essence's Editor-in-Chief has to call his morning show everyday and get derailed without ever making a full point on the issues that matter most to Black women. But we'll save Essence for another post.
Sure, there must be some confusion when many of these broken-hearted, solutionless women read his book Act Like Lady, Think Like A Man and mulled over lines like, "From the moment we come out of the womb, we're taught to protect, profess, and provide. Communicating, nurturing, listening to problems, and trying to understand them without any obligation to fix them is simply not what boys are raised to do." Well damn...now, what are we going to do? Steve Harvey is telling me that men are coming out the womb with instinctive gender constructs buried in their DNA BUT what do I have to change in order to accommodate these men because I'm trying to finish this race to the altar? Rhetorically, speaking...
I understand Christelyn's perspective. Yes, it is troubling that so many children grow up without their fathers. I was one of the 'fortunate ones' to grow up with both parents though it was not ideal. Like Jon Stewart put it, "Parenthood gives you the opportunity to ruin a human from scratch." But when I see such lines that suggest that Black men shirking their responsibility is equivalent to keeping "scores of black women and their children in emotional and economic enslavement", I was taken aback. Is this more male bashing? Was this an unwarranted attempt to further sever the bonds of the Black love paradigm? Was this an attack on the 'baby mama syndrome' - scores of Black women needlessly, selfishly, willingly opening their legs, and becoming impregnated by a man who had no idea there was a price tag attached to that xy merrying in her womb - that sacred place she obviously doesn't understand it's worth? Ah, yes, the womb. Christelyn defines it as the safe place in which we nurture and that a two parent household "married" to the idea is better than a "single, struggling one".
So, is that what it's about? Is it more about being compensated for our role as mothers than raising well-adjusted bourgie children?
Should we just marry well and THEN we'll be able to have our cake and eat it, too? Or will we be left with having to buy the ingredients, slave in the kitchen all day, ice it, serve it, and never savor in any of its saccharine delight?
I don't think the solution is just marriage but goes further back to acculturating a generation of children who do not know their worth. So much of our worth is tied into how our parents raised us, instilled in us, loved us, taught us, reproached us and how much our community embraced us. As an educator, I see children everyday floating through life "married" to idolatry. Their worth, esteem, and identity is tied into material idolatry.
I remember Christelyn and I had a respectful Twitter exchange about the importance of community as it relates to NWNW. She believes parents are the ones who create the village and I likened it to the "chicken or the egg" debate. We cannot create community if we do not look back to the tiny pieces of our ancestral wisdom, the egg itself, the idea of creating communal values. As Martin Buber believes, we must directly and indirectly accept our past and present, learning to distinguish the individual life from the culture as a whole. He states that once this is distinguished only then can a culture of people
We cannot just approach the issue of out of wedlock births as a danger to our financial and emotional prospects as women. But, most adeptly, Christelyn does refer to the "trauma" these children face and it is often a result of the very emotional trauma placed on the child by the parent. Many believe the "village" concept of raising a child is not working, but it cannot work if we do not "absorb foreign experiences" that will lead to our expansion as a people. Thus, there is more than one way to raise a child. As mothers and fathers, we have to create support systems to keep us sane, to nurture our children when we are absent or in addition to, to offer advice, and to create a community. Much like the blogosphere, we must often seek out others who share our ideals and even challenge us to make us stronger in our convictions or make us rethink our approach; perhaps then we can stop living in fear of who seeks to devour us. Maybe then, we could share in our expertise and rebuild the village that can deal with the challenges we face due to generational neglect.
Now, who's bringing the cake?