Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Black Woman's Smile

A Black Woman’s Smile which is written and narrated by Ty Gray-El is a piece which states how hard it is to make a black woman smile. It states that you have to be a strong individual to make a black woman smile. If you are able to make a black woman smile than that in it is an accomplishment. This than states why it is so had for a make woman to smile how she has suffered through so much in life that it takes great strength for herself to for her to accomplish what is thought to be such an easy task. It makes reference that she has birthed and raised children during a time when it was so hard for a woman to do such a task by herself but she did. In other words, during the times of slavery it was very often that many black women and their husbands were no together and she was left by herself to raise not only her children but help other slave mothers raise theirs as well as her slave master’s children. This narrator goes on to say that for a person to put a smile on the face of a black woman, “You would need the strength of Samson, the nerve of Joshua, and the courage of David facing Goliath.” Within this statement, he is making reference to great people within the bible who at some point or another showed their worth. He goes on to say that in her wounds “she has cultivated the marvels of the world only to have her hopes and dreams aborted, and her aspirations show up dead on arrival” In other words, through everything she had to endure being a slave on the plantation or inside the home she carried though skills, traits and values with her to only continuously be denied freedom and to get a thought of hope for a better day to quickly realize it would not be anytime soon. The narrator states how the black woman gave birth to great individuals, in sense of being strong workers for the slave master, only to never be able to truly show them her love and to raise them and watch them grow up. He then goes on to state the many things a black woman had to endure. Such as mothering her child, watch him be taken from her, branded, and she is then shipped to an auction where she has to allow white men to touch her and do with her as they please to “help them better decide” to purchase her. As he continues he goes on to state that something as painful as this travels through the DNA of a person’s future ancestry and it is this that still makes it a hard task to accomplish. The pain of raising and mothering someone else’s baby for them to grow up and despise you after everything you have done to make sure they grew up healthy and strong. He then goes on to express in detail all of her struggles and what has caused how magnificent a person would have to be to make her forget about all of these things and smile. Then the narrator tells that a black woman had to be the strength for not only herself but for her children and for her man when they could not be their own strength. As he continues with his narration, he states that the black woman is tired of being called everything negative besides being called the “child of God that she is.” Towards the end of this piece the narrator tells what it is that really makes “a black woman smile and that is her man; a real man.” A man of great strength and a man that is doing what he is suppose to being doing than she will smile willingly and beautifully. Gray-El ends the piece by showing a mural of great black women and states how breathtaking it is to see a black woman smile.

I chose this piece because it is so moving and deep and truly is something that needs to be shared with many people. I couldn’t question anything about this piece but I do know that it covers many aspects of what we have discussed in class and many of our readings. Upon watching and listening to this piece created by Ty Gray-El I thought about the novel Kindred and how Dana mentioned that many black mothers did not have the father’s around to help raise the children because they were mostly out doing field work. But one thing in particular that I remember is her going to visit Alice to see her father being beat and taken away back to fields. I remember how she said that at times the fathers or husbands were sometimes even sold off to other plantations. I could only imagine how hard something like that had to be on a person; a woman at that. This piece of work was something that needed to be created so many people can beyond doubt begin to understand why the black woman is such a being with a hard exterior but once you make it past that she is so soft and shows emotion just like the next. It needed to be made because although Kindred was detailed enough to tell of the struggles women had to face, it still was not detailed enough. This piece really explains why the black woman is the way she is and that if you are someone to put an honest smile on her face instead of a forced one, if you are even lucky enough to get that much, than you are a person of great strength. Also, it is true that only her man can continuously keep a beautiful and warm smile on her face because other than him and her family everything else is just temporary.

I found this piece to be so inspirational and moving and thought provoking. When I first heard it I wanted to cry and laugh and smile all at the same time because I realized that we as women are very strong beings. We are much more powerful and willed than any other people like Gray-El mentions in the piece. I have seen many pieces done about slavery but nothing as wonderful as this.

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