All Articles Tagged "maya angelou"
‘We’re Not Going To Ruin Three Lives. We’re Going To Have A Beautiful Baby:’ Maya Angelou Talks Raising A Son At 16 With Her Mom
When she was just 16 years old, Maya Angelou got pregnant with her son, Guy Johnson. At a time when teen mothers were often shamed and/or pushed into marrying the baby’s father, the now-literary icon and renowned poet had a support system many other teen moms lacked. Dr. Angelou’s own mother, Vivian Baxter, never shamed her young, unmarried, pregnant daughter, instead choosing to help the teenager and support her efforts to raise her son on her own.
In this clip from Dr. Angelou’s second appearance on “Super Soul Sunday”, she opens up to Oprah about becoming a teen mom. Though Dr. Angelou says she struggled with trying to be independent and work while raising a baby, she always knew one thing: that she could return home to Vivian whenever she needed help.
“The world would throw me flat on my face with this little baby I’m trying to raise,” Dr. Angelou tells Oprah. “I would go home to Vivian Baxter. She would act as if it was the best thing that ever happened… She never, ever made me feel that I had done the wrong thing.”
Read more on BlackVoices.com.
At 84 years old, Maya Angelou is still a force to be reckoned with. The poet laureate, author and activist is releasing her seventh autobiographical memoir Mom & Me & Mom. As you might assume, it will chronicle the relationship she developed with her mother Vivian Baxter over the years.
If you’ve read I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, you know that Maya originally grew up with her grandmother, who she called Mama. She wouldn’t live with her biological mother, who she called “Lady,” until later. Mom & Me & Mom explores how the initial absence of her mother impacted her as a child and then as a grown woman.
Though their relationship was not like the traditional mother and daughter Maya explained to NPR how they were able to reconnect and why she called her “Lady.”
“Well, she didn’t look like a mother to me. She didn’t remind me of my grandmother, who we called Mama. She wore lipstick. And she had record players and she played music, loudly and danced, in the middle of the dining room floor. She said after a few weeks, ‘You’re going to have to address me,’ and she asked, ‘What would you like to call me?’ I said, ‘I’d like to call you Lady, because you’re very beautiful and you sound like a lady.’ She said, ‘All right, I’ll be Lady, so everyone must address me as Lady from now on.’ So all sorts of people know her only as Lady.
“But after a few years she won me. She won me over because she was kind. And then she was also funny. So I liked all that. And she just won me over. And then I heard myself calling her Mother, and before I knew it I was calling her Mom.”
Then in another instance she recalls the time her mother attempted to discipline her when she came in the house after her curfew.
“She hit me. She had a handful of keys about 20 keys on a chain, and I came through the door, before I could say anything she hit me with her fist. My stepfather came down from upstairs to see what was happening — she was still cursing like a drunk seaman. And then my brother came down and said, ‘We’re leaving here.’ And then my mother asked, ‘Where the hmmmmm do you think you’re going?’ He said, ‘We’re leaving this house. No one beats up my baby sister.’ And she said, ‘Please come in the kitchen. Let me speak to you. Please come. Please come.’
“She took a cloth off the rack and put it down on the floor, then she knelt on the cloth and she prayed to God to forgive her. And then she prayed to me. And she cried so piteously, she said, ‘I, I, I just had come down the steps had gone to your room and you weren’t in, and it’s 2:30 or 3 o’clock in the morning, and I thought of what that man did to you in St. Louis, when you were a little girl, 7 years old, and I thought maybe someone was taking advantage of you, and I was about crazy. And then I came down the steps and just then you pushed open the door, with a big smile on your face,’ and she said, ‘I hit you before I thought of it. Please forgive me.’ I forgave her immediately.”
Not that it is a Christmas tradition, but I read a few books almost every winter break in the way that a lot of people have books saved up for summer. Nowadays, titles that I read are not popular. I recall a time when I read and re-read Dr. Maya Angelou’s paperback books, and recited several of her poems, even winning a school award for recitation of Phenomenal Woman. I found honest pain and impossible joy in her words. As I grew older, wanting to grow beyond taunting about my appearance, her self-made language blew my mind. Hello!, the first two lines are,
“Pretty women wonder where my secret lies
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size.”
For women of all beauties and sizes, the poem is a gift. Maya’s deft instruction to declare who we are and can be—phenomenal women—is the kind of present too big to go under a Christmas tree and too weightless to wear during Kwanzaa. In fact, it’s the kind of gift that a woman must give to herself. Not buy for her consumption, but give for her renewal. If I had to tease out chiefly what I think the poem gives us I’d said a message that what we often have no words for, our “inner mystery,” is what makes us phenomenal.
My connection with the phenomenal female persona in the poem at this time of year yields a few self-gift ideas:
Keep a journal of something you do well for each week. Brush your shoulders off when you think about it.
Write a letter (by hand…your computer won’t know) expressing emotion about what your last anger episode was really about. Address the letter to someone or thing, but don’t mail it.
Watch Waiting to Exhale. Remember Whitney at her best. Remember Angela Bassett all over again.
Watch Coming to America for a laugh and a half. Then, watch The Five Heartbeats to laugh, cry and laugh again.
Read about Black Girls Rock! On their website and find their nearest meet-up.
Buy The Black Candle. A documentary about the black experience, centered around the celebration of Kwanzaa, The Black Candle, unites several generations of black people using the stony, charismatic voice of Maya Angelou as the narrator. At $9.99 on iTunes, this is the one gift that must be purchased, with that little money burning a hole in your pocket.
During this season and beyond, your feelings and self esteem will fluctuate. When you’re feeling a little low, read Phenomenal Woman from time to time to remember how high the bar is set.
We did the men, now it’s on to the women. We scoured the interwebs and our own treasure trove of celebrity knowledge to bring you 15 women who shocked us just a bit when they stepped out with white men.
I am a firm believer in that saying by Maya Angelou that says “When people show you who they are believe them the first time.” This philosophy should be applied to all aspects of life; however, this should be a golden rule for women who are in the dating game. Over and over we hear women drone ” He wasn’t always like this,” or ”He just changed on me one day out of nowhere.” No, boo, he didn’t change. He was always this way, he’s just finally showing you who he really is. As women when we first meet a man, out of eagerness, naivete and sometimes low-key desperation, we overlook major flaws and red flags just for the sake of being coupled up. Unfortunately, we usually wind up paying later with broken hearts and hurt feelings. Check out some of these red flags that should never be ignored.
Have you noticed that this new guy is severely inconsistent with just about everything in his life? Does he frequently speak of switching jobs, changing banks, and moving after short periods of time? This is what we call fickle. While there is nothing wrong with appreciating variety, this type of inconsistency can also come off very unstable. When a man can’t commit to anything in his life for an extended period of time it is a sign of deeper issues. If nothing in his life stays around for long, chances are, you won’t either.
Whether you’re traveling on vacation, sunbathing on the beach, or simply lounging in the park, nothing beats a good book in the summertime. Still, with so many options at one’s disposal, deciding on a title can prove difficult.
Huffington Post BlackVoices has compiled an extensive book list, featuring a range of genres including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, science-fiction and the autobiography.
From Ralph Ellison to Jesmyn Ward, many of the authors have been heralded with national awards in the United States. Others, such as Zadie Smith and Tsitsi Dangarembga, have broken literary ground abroad in countries such as Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Uganda. Stemming back to 1789 with Olaudah Equiano’s “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano,” these 50 titles have heavily contributed to contemporary narratives about the black experience across the globe.
Check out the list at blackvoices.com
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One of the most oft-quoted sayings from the great Maya Angelou is this one: “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” It is a very critical lesson of life. Unfortunately, many of us don’t necessarily apply this statement the very first time we meet someone. Here, at Madame Noire, while mulling over story ideas, we thought about this quote more and how it applied to ourselves. I, for one, can say that as I have gotten older I’ve paid more attention to the actions and words of those around me.
It’s apparent that Angelou’s lesson can be applied to all types of relationships and situations, but it most clearly resonated with me in the case of friendships. Looking back, I can see how certain disappointing friends actually revealed their character to me, only for me to ignore them. Nonetheless, those same friends continued to show me who they were, causing a rift between us. Two examples include Sharita and Eve (names changed for obvious reasons).
Known for: Lies, lies and more lies
A few years ago, I reconnected with an old associate when she moved to the city I was residing in at the time. We became fast friends. Within months, I would consider her one of my closest friends and it was apparent that we had started to build a level of trust with each other that wasn’t so common in my post-college life. Six months later, that friendship evaporated. What happened? I became a victim of the little white lies I had seen her purge with others. At first, I didn’t mind those seemingly innocent lies. She would tell co-workers she had pre-existing obligations that prevented her from doing after work outings, she told her cousins she’d be out of town when they asked to come and visit her, etc. Needless to say, I ended up catching her in a hurtful lie that I should’ve seen coming. If she was so quick to tell lies to cover up these small incidents, you can imagine what she was capable of.
She is: The one you shouldn’t bring around a man of interest
Another friend of mine turned out to be more boy-crazy than I thought. I always knew she liked getting attention from men but I didn’t understand that her need could potentially cross the line. Mind you, she has yet to cross the line with me personally but recently I peeped behavior that definitely caused concern. A friend in the circle, who happens to be a married man, constantly flirts with her. Although I’ve repeatedly told her that it’s not appropriate for him to do so, and that she should set him straight verbally, she excuses his behavior as “innocent.” But this wasn’t the first time that I got a clear clue about Eve. She ‘s told me that she had dated a married man once who was separated from his wife. I realize that situations are more complicated than they may seem on the surface but if I were to heed Angelou’s words, I would’ve made noted that story about her affair with a separated-yet-still married man and understood what it was meant to communicate: that she is not someone who 100 percent respects the relationships of others. Could I eventually trust Eve around my own husband? If I do, I have to understand my own part in any potential wrongdoings.
It’s true that when you pay attention to what someone is communicating about themselves, it saves you a lot of pain and trauma in the long run. If a man tells you he’s not ready to settle down: believe him. When a co-worker tells you “all’s fair in business and war”; be careful around him. When a new girlfriend tells you that women are not to be trusted, watch out for that chick.
I’ve obviously had more great friends than I’ve had questionable friends, but I don’t know if most people can say the same. We’ve all met the person who is so jaded on people because of terrible experiences with family, friends, and lovers. But I’m of the mind that all adults have a part to play in their negative experiences. Oftentimes, many of those experiences can be avoided by paying attention Maya Angelou’s words.
As for myself, although I haven’t discarded every person that has come into life and who I’ve judged (rightfully so), I do keep a healthy distance from those that I know I can’t fully trust.
What’s your story? Are you good at protecting yourself against those with unhealthy attributes or intentions?
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Some say ‘black don’t crack’; and while this may or may not be true, it’s certainly evident that there is an abundance of black women who have managed to age beautifully and gracefully. These women, most of them without plastic surgery, have managed to sustain their youthful beauty. And besides the physical, they possess a glow that appears to shine from the inside and out.
These women are subtly fierce and demonstrate poise and grace. From the start of their careers as young girls to now seasoned women, these ladies, just like wine, seem to get better with time.
Lil Mo, channeled her inner Whitney Houston when she sang “The Greatest Love of All,” for a fundraiser benefiting the Maya Angelou schools. The annual event, held in Washington D.C., was hosted by Common and Dr. Angelou.
With a full baby bump, Lil Mo did the song justice without going too far overboard.
Check out the video of her performance below:
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Dr. Maya Angelou has provided inspiration for countless people around the world throughout her lifetime. It’d be virtually impossible to measure the scope and depth her work has left on the people she’s touched; but since today marks the 84th anniversary of her birth, it’s only fitting that we at least highlight just some of gems she’s dropped on us over the past 84 years.
I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t love themselves.
This one is pretty self explanatory and completely logical. Yet and still so many of us will waste much time trying to repair broken people and being surprised when they cant reciprocate. Anyone who doesn’t love themselves can’t possibly love you in the way you want and need to be loved.