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  • Valerie Bryant

Roll Up Your Sleeves - Straighten a Sister's Crown

Updated: May 22, 2021

(One Black Mom's Perspective during our Nation's Civil Tension & Unrest)

on the night Chicago burned

As an African American (Black) child growing up in a South Side Chicago ghetto, I was there on the night Chicago burned behind the assassination of MLK, Jr. What got me through that was the psychological and loving support of my father and mother. They walked me through promise to see hope for my future on the other side of those atrocities. This then is about helping our children (littles through young adults) to see promise for their tomorrow, as well. We do that by "being there" for each other as women. Even as America's thermostat continues to climb, the way we support each other across ethnic barriers could be the beginning of a much-needed deep-healing societal balm. It has to begin in earnest - now.

What’s left to do anywhere for anybody when communities march and disrupt normal living - so their voices might be heard; when neighborhoods are looted and businesses are burned - as expressions of utter hopelessness; and when masses outcry about injustices - somebody needs to listen, hear and heal. But who?

As an African American mother, I have watched and sorrowed over so many incidents of lives lost. I have heard the justifications for and against so many incidents turned terminal - every side with their own take on the matter. But as a Black mother, I would be blind and less than human if I did not wince at the horrible pain I've seen on countless faces of women impacted by death blows upon their children. Our children. My people's children (young and older).

I have tried learning from each misery and then doing my best to teach my youngsters not to invite trouble - and how not to call even perceived negative attention to themselves.


Yes, I have told mine not to wear hoodies upon their heads.

Yes, I have taught mine not to put their hands in their pockets when they are in a store. Yes, I have schooled mine with purpose of trying to give them a greater chance at a good life.

Yes, I have instructed mine regarding non-threatening postures and language if ever pulled over by police. Call it what you want. I call it delivering my best for my babies as I live with both eyes open.

I've never firsthand known police brutality. We support our officers and do understand that an unfortunate few with poor motives really do exist. Still, we respect our officers and expect and typically receive the same from them.

You don’t know my experiences and you definitely cannot argue against what I feel. Neither can or should I do that to you. I don’t need you to validate my life experiences any more than I need to try validating yours. What I do know, as a woman and mother, is that my sisters, regardless of ethnicity, must learn how we can help one another stand in the midst of these horrors afflicting our children - whether we birthed them onto the planet or not. Our children depend on our guidance; it is time we figure ways to restore one another as purposeful women, supporting one another as we discover ways to deliver through this present pain.

What are we as woman and mothers to do?

What are we as woman and mothers to do or realize when we see our sisters in a struggle against the well-being of their families?

Possibly know:

  • That we must realize how each of our families walks a specific walk that might be rugged and vastly different from many others. . . and somewhere, one mom's crown rests above a sweat or tear-drenched face...and she needs you to go love on her; let her cry, and then tell her, "Girl", go wash your face" while you stand beside her and give her hope

  • That each mom's cross varies in shape and texture so as to weigh and press sometimes in ways others might never fully understand - because we can't always feel one another's pain . . . and somewhere one mom's crown teeters; she needs your help to carry her load so it might not hurt so much as it tries weighing down her mind, body and soul

  • That we can resonate with one another in fuller truth as we moms remove the masks of confidence and perfection - and throw off the guilt and shame for the perfect imperfection we all are. . . and somewhere one mom's crown hides her face for fear that others will harshly judge her negative life circumstances – situations that she did not author herself. She needs you to help raise her chin and rightly reposition her crown to uncover the beauty of her power and purpose

  • That it "ain't" easy to reveal the ugliness of a targeting sin to our innocent children. Still, they must learn the "No mas" refrain to preserve life (their own and possibly others' one day) . . . and somewhere a mom struggles under her wobbling crown to share unsavory truths of various lingering evil from a nation's past with her "babies". . . and she needs you to help stabilize it while helping her compose that very sour truth that must be shared

  • That not every prayer is answered in pretty ways; sometimes positive growth comes through ugliness and sad ashes of death . . . somewhere one mom's crown has been knocked off her head by such negative outcomes; she needs you to lovingly help her pick it up, reposition it and then guide her to a sounder restoration

it may mean leaving a few behind . . .

Realize that powerful answers and remedies are oftentimes born when we women actively straighten one another's crowns. For now, it may mean leaving a few behind if any choose to foment hatred or argument - or those who simply will not even try to understand or to even give pause and listen, acknowledging your fears and pain. Resolve that such is ok, for this leg of the journey may not be hewn for them. Only move forward in the positive with sisters who support you and who are realizing the power of the community of the crown.

My sisters, it's time to roll up our sleeves get to work straightening some crowns. May we always find ways to walk and talk with one another, as we face such a time as this.

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