"Now you understand just why my head’s not bowed. I don’t shout or jump about Or have to talk real loud. When you see me passing, It ought to make you proud. I say, It’s in the click of my heels, The bend of my hair, the palm of my hand, the need for my care. ‘Cause I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me."
- Maya Angelou (Phenomenal Woman)
Forward Thinkers this past Mother’s Day, weekend many images were imprinted in my mind as I watched the 2014 NFL draft. I was amazed at the number of young African American males that walked across the stage after being drafted into the NFL that became overwhelmed with emotions realizing their lifelong dream had been accomplished. Then I quickly realized their excitement was not just about playing professional football but the true genesis of their joy was the fact they could finally become a financial blessing to their phenomenal mothers.
Forward Thinkers the reality in the African American community is the fact that the Black mother and grandmother has become the true backbone of all success birthed out of our community. I observed during the interview process of each athlete entering into the NFL that 90% thanked God for the opportunity to play professional football and their mothers for all the sacrifices they made to get them to this level of success.
Forward Thinkers another image of a "phenomenal mother" from this past week is the mother of NBA Superstar, Kevin Durant. In accepting his first MVP award, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant made a point of sharing the honor with those who made it possible.
In a soul-baring speech that lasted more than 25 minutes, Durant fought back tears several times while thanking each of his teammates, the coaches, support staff and team executives, and finally his family. The emotional outpouring culminated with a tribute to his mother, Wanda Pratt, and the sacrifices she made, the inspiration she provided while raising Durant and his brother in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.
"You made us believe," Durant said to Pratt, who was at the ceremony. "Kept us off the street, put clothes on our backs, food on the table". When you didn’t eat, you made sure we ate. You sacrificed for us. "You’re the real MVP."
Durant said that Pratt was a single mother with two boys, and though times were tough while growing up, Pratt always thought something better was ahead. Durant said to appreciate moments like these, he often looks back to gain perspective.
"One of the best memories I had is when we moved into our first apartment," he said as tears streamed down Pratt’s face. "No bed, no furniture, and we just all sat in the living room and hugged each other, ’cause that’s when we all thought we made it."
Forward Thinkers my mother Gwen Malone and I watched Durant’s speech together again on Mother’s Day and today I decided to use this article Forward Thinking as a tribute to all the phenomenal mothers in the African American community.
Forward Thinkers there are many social issues affecting the prosperity of the African American community but I believe the fact that 72% of children in the black community are being raised by a single mother (overall rate is 25% for other US children) is the number one issue in our community. There are several factors at the root of these alarming numbers but the reality is these numbers have both an indirect and direct affect on several negative outcomes in our communities. Yet, the phenomenal black mother keeps making a way for her family to succeed.
Forward Thinkers the black male incarceration rate is at an all time high, the death rate of black youth is higher than at any time recorded during the civil rights movement, the poverty rate of the single black mother continues to be at the bottom of the financial pool, the educational performance of children in single mother households produces below average grades, and the teen pregnancy rates among black teens are highest in single mother households. In spite of all these negative hurdles the African American mother continues to inspire and motivate their children to reach for the stars. It appears nothing can stop a Black mother from being phenomenal.
Hagar A Phenomenal Black Mother
Genesis 21:8-18 (ESV)
8 And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9 But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing.[a] 10 So she said to Abraham, "Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac." 11 And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. 12 But God said to Abraham, "Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. 13 And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring." 14 So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, "Let me not look on the death of the child." And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18 Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation."
Forward Thinkers Hagar became a single mother with no support from the father of her son but she put her faith in the Lord. Forward Thinking single mothers pick up your head and put your trust in the Lord even without child support your family can succeed.
Forward Thinking mothers notice that even in the face of poverty and homelessness Hagar continued to pray and the Lord continued to give her the ability to provide for her son. The odds may be against you but remember the Lord is for you.
Forward Thinkers when everything began to look hopeless in Hagar’s life she lifted her son up before the Lord. Mothers never allow negative circumstances to cause you to speak negative into your children but at all times keep them lifted up before the Lord. There is the power of life and death in the tongue of every phenomenal mother therefore I challenge you to release your unlimited power to speak life into your situation.
Forward Thinkers in conclusion the Lord made a great nation out of Hagar’s son and I’m encouraging every mother facing difficult situations to keep the faith and continue to place your trust in the Lord. There is a phenomenal mother inside of you and nothing can cancel your destiny and stop your offspring from springing into greatness.