There is a saying that mothers love their sons and raise their daughters. This perspective is evident in the way that girls grow into women. For all the ceremonial culture that we lost when we were ripped from the Motherland, women still maintained a strong foundation of social and even physical rites of passage to build on.
As girls, we learn hard life lessons. In our families and in society, whether good or bad, we have clear definitions of what it means to be a woman. We follow the Mother Figure in the home. Our mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts and the women in our community ALWAYS talk about what it means to be a woman. Keep your head up and your dress down. Books before boys. Cook a pot of rice and pick the peas properly. You got your period? Don’t be bringing no babies up in here. Keep a clean house and sweep the yard. Do well in school. Iron your clothes. Get a good job. Always have on a clean panty — you might get into an accident. Keep your weave tight and your nails fly. Get your own money. Get that man’s money. Whatever it is, every family has its own values but it’s always clear.
So, for girls, the opportunity is there to rebuild Rites of Passage, the more structured and ceremonial side of becoming a woman. And what about the boys? What ideas do you have around using a structured Rites of Passage system to teach our children how to be women and men? If you know of any resources, please also post them here.
In the News: Black is coming back! Share your ideas for the Black Woman and Child magazine relaunch at www.blackwomanandchild.com.
Project Butterfly Book by Niambi Jaha-Echols
Now available from the Black Woman and Child Mama’s Market:
- Project Butterfly: Supporting Young Women and Girls Through the Transitions of Life – a great book written by Niambi Jaha-Echols.
- Also available – the corresponding write-in workbook.
Niambi made a great presentation at the recent Family, Culture and Lifestyle Show in Toronto on June 28. Exerts from her speech will be posted here on Blog Woman and Child. Stay tuned.
To get your own copies, visit the Black Woman and Child Mama’s Market at http://nubeing.com/bwac/market/mamasmarket.htm.
So Black-focused schools have been approved by the Toronto District School Board. All I can say is, I wonder what all the fuss is about? I don’t know too much about “black-focused” but I can tell you that my children have been thriving at an African-Centered school for over three years now. And there have been African-Centered schools in Canada for much longer than that. We’re paying out of pocket for it and it is more than worth it. Next issue: fighting to pull our tax dollars out of the public school system and have the choice to put those dollars toward the educational institute of our choice!
Yes, Black schools: To all those who were arguing about if we should or we shouldn’t have it — sorry, we already have it, have had it and have been having it for quite some time now, if anybody cared to notice. And we’re not alone. Check out this article that we published in the Spring 2006 Black Woman and Child. Special thanks to Angelot Ndongmo.
On the Frontlines Report: African-Centered Schools
“For decades, black mothers have put their faith in public and private school systems that have failed them miserably. Our children are still complaining of racism, unfair treatment, a lack of understanding of their cultural heritage and the frustration of having to learn about every other race’s contributions except their own. African mothers are no different from any other mother when it comes to wanting the best educational experience for their children. These parents desperately need a resolution to help steer their children away from a life of hardship or crime which seem to be gripping countless black youth.”
Click here to read the full article.
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On Saturday night, I took my children to a holiday dinner at my mother’s church. For the record, church is something like I no longer “do” for a variety of reasons, most of which have to do with the lack of analysis and participation in most churches. I grew up during the era of “don’t ever ask questions, just pray and have faith and trust that God has all the answers even if you don’t know what is really going on in your life and a lot of things just don’t make sense. Keep your eyes closed and stay on your knees!” Thankfully there are churches today that allow for just a little more participation that that! I have been to some of those and find them to be a good start. But I digress…
At this holiday dinner, there was good food and an excellent program! There was modern dance, spoken word, singing (good and bad!) and a whole lot of other fun activities — even breakdancing! Very positive. But one thing that struck me on the negative side was the way that many adults felt about the little children playing.
My three children along with three other youngsters were having a ball, running and playing in the hallway (outside the main room) and sometimes laughing and waving and joking (inside the main room). For their antics, they received many a disapproving frown, a lot of “shush!” and my husband and I were both approached (at two separate times) with a strongly-worded request that we keep the children quiet. It seemed to me that adults had a great appreciation for the children, as long as they were on-stage singing, dancing or otherwise looking cute and performing for the Lord. But outside of that, the children were seen as a nuisance and a bother.
Now I went to church for many years and I remember a lot of the Bible and the lessons that were taught. One that stands out for me vividly is “Suffer ye the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Is that verse out of fashion these days? I don’t remember Jesus saying “Suffer ye the little children to come unto me but keep their little behinds quiet or you’ll be asked to leave.” No disrespect but if they have as many stringent rules and regulations in the Kingdom of Heaven as they do in some churches these days…well, let’s just say that the experience left me feeling not too joyful. ‘Nuff said.