From the upcoming book, How Many Orgasms Does It Take To Stop Dropping Bombs?
Throughout my life I have been surrounded by strong women, mostly black women, who have had to endure more than I could ever imagine, or would ever know. They never boast of their strength. They simply exude it. Most of them never raised a protest sign, or marched, but they instead raised a village, and transformed children into outstanding men and women.
During slavery, they would have endured the penis of the slave master, breastfed his children, and struggled to keep their own family together. During Jim Crow segregation, they would have endured backbreaking and hand gnarling work as sharecroppers, factory workers, domestics and seamstresses, while maintaining the household. They would have sang and danced as they sat on the back of the bus, and felt the word nigger flung at them like mucous. It was a quiet resolve they possessed, their fierce eyes and steel hands, and a lion’s love.
The women in my life possess that same stuff, and I try to honor that as I continue to navigate through what it means to be a man. Sometimes I get angry because I don’t understand them; too complicated for my simplistic mind. I resist when they are right because I hate it, and I don’t want to hear it. All I can hear is their rebuke of my shit. What I don’t hear underneath is their love of me. They are trying to get my attention, and wanting me to be a better man.
Sometimes I don’t want to want to be bothered, because it is too much work. Being around strong women takes a lot – energy, emotion, compassion, empathy, and love. They have it in spades. I am lucky if I can get through the day.
But they are the ones that will fuss over me, feed me a good meal, rub my back, run me a bath, get me well when I am sick, make sense of things that don’t make sense, watch out for me when I am too oblivious to pay attention, and stick up for me when they think I am being taken advantage of.
I was borne of a woman. She and I struggled with each other. We never grew close; our complications were too much to make such a bond. She loved me fiercely, with that fighting spirit of a female protecting her cub. She was one who experienced more hurt than I could know, and would never tell me. She was damaged like many women of color, and played with the hand she was dealt. She did the best she could, even though her love was both conditional and unconditional. In the end, I owe so much to her, for risking her health to give birth to me, to sacrificing her career for me, and for giving me tools so I could survive and thrive in this world.
None of what I say is meant to be romantic, or to be boastful. These are merely the facts of my life, and what I know of history. I am flawed, I am complicated, and I am doing the best that I can. I believe I have enough wisdom to know from whence I came, and who is nurturing and lifting me up now. So if anything, I am being accountable.