Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mama On: Behavior

"Behave yourself! Do you want people to think you were raised in a barn?"

Ah, we have again come to one of the basic tenants of Mamaknology -- "Act right." And of course, the addendum is, "Act right in public; you never know who sees you" "

I had the privilege of viewing the AMERICA I AM exhibit, here in Atlanta. Before going further, I have to say that it was an amazing exhibit and totally worth the one-hour (plus) wait in line. Now, knowing that this fascinating event dealt with the contributions, trials, tribulations, and triumphs of African-Americans in this country. I wanted to believe that I was going to celebrate being black in America with people like me. People willing to share and enjoy the best of what we are.

Well, as it turns out, many of the people I was in line with turned into something I hope never to be: rude, ignorant, loud, vulgar, and callous, and they had no problem demonstrating these traits in pairs, trebles, and other multiples. The children with them MUST have learned their manners somewhere else -- thank goodness -- because the ones throwing the tantrums, trying to touch the exhibits, taking pictures, sitting and standing on the exhibits, and stepping on other people were the adults.

Now, what's wrong with us? Why can't we go anywhere and act like it is meant for EVERYONE to enjoy-- not just us. Why do we think that the rules are meant for everyone EXCEPT us? Why do we forget our manners at the door and then have the NERVE to be offended when we're caught doing the wrong thing? And yes, people were in the exhibit trying to handle and take pictures of 500-year old artifacts!

Come on, people! You KNOW your mama raised you better than that. People died for your right to stand where you are, and you're tramping all over their blood, sweat, and tears like it means nothing. Were you raised in barn?

The Mamaknologist take on this is much like the line from John Donne's poem (Meditation XVII). Donne tells us that, "No man is an island, entire to himself...". Briefly, this means that you have no right to behave like a circus act and then take it on the road because you are not the only person in the world. You have no right to abuse the people around you with your bad behaviour. One of our president's was quoted as saying, "the rights of the individual extend only as far as the next individual."

He might not have been a Mamaknologist, but he put the right words in place to make the point.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mama On: Thinking Before You Speak

"WHAT did I tell you?"

Tonight, I watched the VMA award show and witnessed a man moving contrary to everything that has brought him to this point in time. DEEP in my heart, I heard my mother's voice loud and exceedingly clear. She said, "Kanye West has lost his mind, and I KNOW his mother is embarrassed." The Mamaknologist in me agreed wholeheartedly. His interruption of another artist was rude and inappropriate. His language, though not entirely lewd, was unacceptable. His behavior and the manner in which he chose to voice his opinion was ... wrong.

And we all know, his mama didn't raise him like that.

It is my belief that Dr. Donda West, in all the years of raising her child used that key phrase ("What did I tell you?") with all of the power any Mamaknologist could muster -- and I am sure that she moved emphasis and aggression throughout the phrase with strong intent. I'm pretty sure that this is what she meant when she said:

  • "WHAT did I tell you?" Translation: Are you listening when I tell you what I know about the world?
  • "What DID I tell you?" Translation: I'm going to repeat this because you need to get a clear understanding. The world is going to hold you responsible for getting it right.
  • "What did I tell you?" Translation: Son, I've laid my life on the line for yours because I want yours to be better than mine. Take the gift and grow into a good man.
  • "What did I TELL you?" Translation: Son, why aren't you listening? You can't be a child forever and this life is not a dress rehearsal.
  • "What did I tell YOU?" Translation: Son, I'm not giving this gift to anyone but you. Please use it well.
So, here's the Mamaknologist take, delivered as a direct message: Crazy is not cute, Kanye. Your mother, armed with all of the acquired wisdom of her Mamaknology, provided the blueprint. It is now up to you to build a life worth living. People maybe watching, but you need to man up and get some help. There is no shame in recognizing a need for support, and the Mamaknologist in me hears the voices of both my mother and yours, because I know that your mama DID tell you.