As I have thought about the unfair treatment of Shirley Sherrod, I remembered my post on Equality vs. Fair Treatment. In white racists and angry white male sympathizers’ attempts to show that they, too, are not racists, both groups immediately condemned Sherrod for what they believed was equal to the discrimination some whites have been guilty of. Every situation is unique. That’s why I believe being treated fairly, not equal, should always be the goal. Read this Continue reading
I’ve got good news! My Facebook friends may already know, but I want my WordPress readers to know that I have been selected as a writer for the 2011 Guideposts devotional for new moms. Outside of newspapers and magazines (and one little indie that published one of my poems), this is my first time being published in a book. I will write about 20 short pieces about my first year as a mom to encourage new moms. The stories will be personal. They may be quirky. I hope they are revelatory. I pray they change the pace for a mom having a frustrating, clueless, hectic or simply a “hands up” day. To craft these stories will take some time to make my September 1 deadline so I’ll be taking a break from blogging for the month of July.
I’ve been thinking for a month or so about taking a one-month break from blogging, and I thought July would be that month, but I wasn’t sure. I hadn’t yet gotten the Guideposts position, and I hadn’t told my husband of my possible intentions, but this morning he suggested that I “take off from blogging for a month, the month of July.” I knew then that my thinking was more than just thinking but it was God telling me to take a break.
On Wednesday I’ll sign off for a month, but I’ll see you again in August.
Copyright 2010 by Rhonda J. Smith
My father was a quiet man of action. I never heard him say that he wanted to be an example of a man with a strong work ethic who provided for his family and comforted his children, but that’s what I saw, and that’s the type of man I wanted. Though my father had strong character that I sought in men I dated, I wished my father had given me clear dos and don’ts when deciding who’s company I would keep. He didn’t get involved because he said he didn’t want to be judgmental. I embraced a legacy that he, intentionally or unintentionally, left me that was good and challenging for me. I have a husband with a strong work ethic who is a provider and comforter, but trying to recognize someone like him without major character flaws took me on a journey due, in part, to my father’s hands-off, “non-judgmental” approach with my dating.
As I thought about my dad’s legacy, my strong black woman one, especially in light of trying to impart a non-Jezebel-like response to my sons, and how I have been challenging my discipleship group to meet their goals, I began to ask “What type of legacy do you want to leave?” For me this question caused me to think beyond the “I want to be a good wife and a mother” response that we typically say. This question forced me to delve into what attitudes and actions I have and if they lead to my being presently known as a supportive and submissive wife, a selfless and sacrificing mother, a wise spiritual leader and a penetrating writer. For the most part, according to others, I have a solid reputation in these areas. But without planning, not purposing to engage in certain behaviors and attitudes, I could easily leave a legacy I don’t intend. I don’t want to teach my sons to court a woman whose mantra seems to be “accept what I say and not what I do.” She says she is a Christian and goes to church, but she is the aggressor and constantly asserts her way. I don’t want them to see Jezebel in me and think she belongs in women so they pick a Jezebel. As I seek to leave a legacy, I am loosing and losing Jezebel so she has no intentional or unintentional part of me.
Copyright 2010 by Rhonda J. Smith
This weekend I was not the mean mommy though I wondered if I would be when Joshua asked me why I said “Oh My Gosh” in a church parking lot and reminded me not to exceed the speed limit. Instead, I listened to his voice shaking with confusion and fright for me “because God might be mad at you for using his name in vain in the church parking lot.” Most of us know that a mama’s first response is simply reflexive, responding to a child stepping out of his place. At least that’s the case with most strong black women I know. But in light of my mean mama self examination, I was extra careful with my responses to clarify for and comfort Joshua.
Before Joshua said that I used the Lord’s name in vain (right), he said that “Oh My Gosh” was cursing (not really). I re-explained that Gosh is a substitute for God, and he’s right that we shouldn’t say it because doing so is a way of calling out to God for no good reason at all. I apologized for saying “Oh My Gosh,” but Joshua continued to fret, repeating over and over what I had done and what he thought would be God’s response.
“Joshua, I said I was sorry. What else do you want me to do?”
“You can pray about it.”
“What should I pray?”
“You can ask God to help you not to say ‘Oh My Gosh’ anymore.”
“You are right, Joshua. I can pray.”
So I asked God to forgive me and help me not to say “Oh My Gosh,” which comes out at times I don’t even realize. And not realizing that I had said it was really frustrating for Joshua. If he could express himself, he’d probably want to know “How could you so freely say something that you teach me not to say?” But he didn’t have to say that. He was quite clear with his telling me that I was in the church parking lot.
Though my son conducted a lesson in humility for me, I was not the mean mama but the proud mama. He has learned and knows how to apply The 10 Commandments and is recognizing what displeases God. His 7-year-old ways may not yet be the most gracious, but we’re working on the “not what you say but how you say it.” He did pretty well this day. So on the expressway when he said, “Mama don’t forget,” his respectful way of reminding me not to speed, I said, “You’re right,” and I simply decelerated from 58 to get to the 55 limit. He knows laws and is working on the love, and in the process I truly am the proud mama.
Copyright 2010 by Rhonda J. Smith
I don’t know about you, but I get thrown off when people show up to my home unexpected. I may not be dressed right or have other plans and may say something I wouldn’t ordinarily say because these guests showed up and changed the course of my day. This happened Saturday morning. Joshua came into our bedroom and attacked his dad as he lay on the bed. After they tussled a bit, we had a little impromptu family time, an intimate party of sorts. We were feeling good. We were feeling free. And in these moments is when Joshua usually asks some deep question, but this day I asked a question. I wanted to know what Joshua liked about himself. He was struggling to give a list so to help him I asked what he liked about his dad, who he always calls his hero. The list was going good. Then Jezebel crashed our party. Continue reading
The following is not an excerpt from my book but continues to illustrate the concept of how the spirit of Jezebel fuels strong black woman fires.
“Boys rule. Girls don’t,” Joshua exclaimed from the other room as he was watching some commercial that showed children somehow interacting. After asking what he meant, he said, “Boys rule because they can be husbands and girls can only rule their children.” You know I was taken aback. He understood the assigned roles of husbands and wives in the home, gathered from the structure of our home, and expressed this in his 7-year-old way, but I was not impressed with his theology; I was concerned about his sexology. His domineering tone of “boys rule” hallowed my gut and made me think “He’s a little sexist in the making” and all I wanted to do was tell him all the ways that I, a “girl,” ruled beyond overseeing my children.
I wanted to tell him that I led my classrooms as a teacher, ran my department as a director, organized my team as a department coordinator, rallied my sorors and church members as committee chair for several committees and with most of these I was leading women AND men. Then I thought to explain how “only” ruling my children was the most important, exhausting and rewarding job that I ever had so now it tops the list of my daily responsibilities. But I didn’t say any of this because I recognized that Jezebel was haunting me and trying to scare me into standing up and taking my place in the eyes of my 7-year-old. She urged me to make him see that I, too, was worthy of broad-based rulership recognition in his eyes. I may have wanted him to say “Boys rule and girls do, too,” but Jezebel wanted Joshua to say “Girls rule and boys don’t.” She wanted me to displace my husband all so that my son could see another “boss” side to me (1 Timothy 2:12).
Though I am clear that my husband should be leading the home and am pleased that he’s not a tyrant, I want to listen to Jezebel. Though I have no doubt that my role is to manage the home, including being the primary manager of the children, I want to follow Jezebel’s ways. Though Joshua has acknowledged “you pastor your disciples,” I want to choose Jezebel’s words so that Joshua can see through me that “girls rule.” Besides talking to my husband about our need to be more purposeful in teaching our sons about gender equality in personhood, I kept my mouth shut with Joshua. I realized that I wouldn’t be trying to lovingly teach him about gender equality. I wanted to right the wrong of his thinking, to get him to see that girls rule too. But really it wasn’t about being right; it was about being recognized. When you want to be recognized you follow your own standards; you do what you think is necessary so that you are recognized even if it’s just in the eyes of your 7-year-old son. But when you want to be right, you follow God’s standards. You do what He told you to do no matter what anybody thinks about it. When you want to be right, you accept what God has for you and don’t seek approval from man. When you want to be right, you humble yourself and wait on God to exalt you, even in the eyes of your 7-year-old son.
So I waited, but I guess subconsciously I thought God was taking too long to exalt me. Over the weekend, I stopped waiting and went along with Jezebel, and it was not pretty. Tune in next time and I’ll tell you all about that then.
Copyright 2010 by Rhonda J. Smith
Posted in Control, Marriage, Motherhood, Recovery, Women
Tagged Black Woman, Christianity, Equality, Gender bias, Sexism, Strong black woman, Woman