Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Rebecca Walker Is One Strange Sista!

I must confess to never understanding Rebecca Walker's appeal. Her work, particularly her autobiography, Black, White, and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self, has always seemed to me to be only about herself, self-centered and self-pitying. She has always seemed to be confused and conflicted, vacillating between ideologies, races, politics, sexualities, and cultures.

And I could never shake the feeling that everything about Rebecca Walker was malleable, her entire being, capable of being shaped and twisted to fit whatever world view she was currently existing in. She never seemed to remain in any kind of consistent or comfortable state of grace, she always seemed to be jumping from one extreme to another.

From promiscuous to monogamous, from straight to gay to bi-sexual. Fiercely bi-racial with a definite comfortability with whiteness and a shaky and obvious fear of blackness, currently moving from third wave feminist founder to anti-feminist baby mama. Rebecca Walker has indeed had an interesting life, but I'm just not sure why the rest of the world needs to hear about her life or what we are supposed to gain from her very public confessions.

On May 23, 2008, Walker wrote a blistering, no-holds-barred opinion piece on her famous mother, author Alice Walker, entitled How My Mother's Fanatical Views Tore Us Apart. Walker methodically dismantles Alice Walker as a mother, a feminist, and as a human being. While I can understand Walker's anger, sadness, and bitterness toward her mother, I can't respect her airing her grievances in print and in public.

Walker is too well-educated, well-traveled, and experienced to believe that she was not just laying bare to Alice Walker, the author and feminist icon, she knew all too well that she was tossing black motherhood out there to the world as well. And in a society that still seems to know so little about black women as people, much less as mothers or daughters, her actions seem even more mean-spirited and short-sighted.

I have yet to meet a woman with a strong black mother that does not have some issues with their mother's actions, choices, and skills as a parent in regard to themselves. In my book, black motherhood is different, it's complicated by racism, sexism, hope, and fear. A black mother's fear for herself and her child in a society that is hostile to both of them. Rebecca Walker seems to have little empathy for the woman, her mother, who was publicly vilified for daring to openly express that black women might just have a different view of the world.

Alice Walker paid a very heavy price to create a open space where black women could embrace feminist ideals on their own terms. And maybe her dedication to her writings and her activism made her an inattentive and aloof mother. Rebecca Walker would not be the first child with a mother like that and she won't be the last. And not every child that had an absent parent has made the choices that Rebecca Walker has made in her life. She's grown woman now and she needs to own those decisions.

When Rebecca Walker first appeared in the literary and feminist circles over fifteen years ago, I was always interested in why she chose to use her mother's last name. I never begrudged her using her mother's famous and thus more marketable last name, but I am extremely troubled by it now. It seems rather hypocritical and cowardly to bash your mother so publicly, yet continue to use her last name as your own.

If Rebecca Walker felt so loved and cared for by her father's new family, why isn't she using her father's last name? If Rebecca Walker has decided that her mother is such as monster, why isn't she using her male partner's last name? Why not make a completely clean break and change your last name completely, to something of your own choosing? Clearly Ms. Walker is not angry or bitter enough to stop using her mother's famous last name.

And for someone who has spent the majority of her writings examining her own life, I find it interesting that now as an adult and as a mother herself, Rebecca Walker has not learned to forgive. Maybe if she stopped focusing so strongly on how her mother failed her as child, she could gain some understanding, some compassion of her mother, black woman to black woman, black mother to black mother.

39 comments:

SheCodes July 2, 2008 at 7:12 AM  

I'm troubled by people trying to use tell all books as some strange form of therapy, as well. If you hate your mother, then for god's sake go to a psychiatrist and heal your wounds.

Unless the woman is out there hurting people, it serves no purpose to try to destroy Alice Walker's reputation.

It was a revenge book, pure and simple. I couldn't even finish reading it. Yes I believe that Alice Walker wasn't an exemplary mother.

Has her daughter even considered the possibility that her mother has her own unhealed wounds from her own childhood that has compromised her ability to effectively parent?

I only hope that Rebecca wakes up and realizes that mothers are human, they make mistakes -- serious ones, sometimes, and they need just as much grace as their daughters do.


Off topic, but I LOVED the Black Women's Health link on your blogroll. I added it to mine, and I hope that it will inspire more sisters to take their health more seriously.

LorMarie July 2, 2008 at 7:56 AM  

Personally, I am glad that Rebecca wrote the piece about her mother. It appeared to me that Alice Walker was beyond the usual mother that we all sometimes have problems with. She outright rejected her daughter in the name of feminism. I'd go on to say that Alice Walker's actions doesn't represent those of most black mothers or black women in general.

Anonymiss July 2, 2008 at 9:17 AM  

I'm not into putting my biz out there on front street but here it goes...

I can agree with your take on how it's hypocritical of Rebecca to use her mother's last name and air her out. But I really don't have any problems with Rebecca outside of that cuz I can truly empathize with her. Black people know how to deal with absentee dads --- "He ain't sh*t." Absentee moms are supposed to still have the same respect as a loving, nurturing, INVOLVED mother off of the strength of them giving you life. How respectable is that woman that created a void in your childhood?

My mother was never there for me growing up. Never. Everything that I know now, I taught myself or learned from TV or books. My father left the family when I was in high school and I thought things would get better but they didn't. She still put everything (my paternal family, her job, and her love for TV) before my sibling and I.

Imagine growing up with an abusive dad hell-bent on perfection who demanded the world from you and having a mother who one minute acted like she didn't give a sh*t, then the next minute demanded the world from you but never bothered to nurture your intellect. And on top of that madness, I'm also bicultural so I had to deal with and adhere to sexist and ageist customs and traditions from Nigerian culture while trying to assimilate into American culture. To this day, I don't feel as though I fit into either group.

She was never involved in my life and I always felt like a burden. To this day when one of us gets into a disagreement with her, she starts complaining about being a mother. I'm 27 years old and I'm beyond tired of hearing those complaints.

I understand now that my mom's been depressed due to her and my dad's arranged marriage and that she's been an overstressed workhorse for a lot of her life, but it still wasn't fair to my siblings and I that we had to bear the brunt of her misery and total lack of maternal instinct.

It's never a popular thing to discuss absentee Black mothers yet it is very popular and acceptable to air out and not forgive absentee Black dads. There are a lot of awful Black mothers out there. Just because they adhere to their legal obligation of providing for their kids doesn't make them good mothers. And we say the same thing for Black fathers who aren't there for their shorties but cut their baby moms a chlid support check every month. They are acting only as biological parents and legal guardians.

I don't know if I can really forgive my mom cuz I can't seem to let go of my f*cked-up childhood. I have trust issues and I'm skeptical of having longevity in relationships. Me and my dad are estranged and it's honestly for the best. Luckily I was wise enough to stay on the straight and narrow but that didn't have much to do with child rearing. Sometimes I wonder if my mom's still in my life cuz I don't wanna feel as if I'm an orphan.

Me and my mother have a relationship now, but it's not the greatest. I've told her in the past that I never felt like she cared about me and that she doesn't know anything about me. She's felt betrayed and lashed out at me and other times she asked me to forgive her. Then some time will pass again before she deviates into a burdened mother again.

The only times that she's shown any pride and happiness for me were at graduations. All I could think was "Where were you when I needed you?"

PioneerValleyWoman July 2, 2008 at 9:43 AM  

She is using her mother's name because she wants to supplant her. She wants to take her mother's name and use it as her legacy, so that in the future, her mother's memory and legacy will be changed from how her mother saw it to how she, the daughter, saw it.

The daughter "kills off" the mother, but takes her name and legacy for her own purposes.

Those who don't know better will see the daughter as the next/new phase of the mother's work, or as a natural manifestation, or will see the mother's work as relevant only to the baby boomers (whom they see as no longer being important/relevant...)

Professor Tracey July 2, 2008 at 11:09 AM  

@Pioneer Valley Woman -

Very interesting analysis. I will really have to consider that idea. I have been wondering if this is what she is writing now while Alice is alive, what in the hell is she going to write when this woman is dead and gone?

@Lorimarie -

I would read a bit more about Alice Walker's life. Start with In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose. You might understand why she reached out to feminist ideals.

And I have to disagree, Alice Walker is not really that different than a lot of black mothers of her age group. We need to learn more about the histories of women her age - 60 and older and remember what it was like for them as young girls and women growing up in a world of limited options.

Alice might be a bad mother, but she is a black woman all the same. Black women would not be so attracted to her writings otherwise. She's connecting with a lot of black women, who clearly feel what she is saying.

Professor Tracey July 2, 2008 at 11:34 AM  

Anonymiss -

Have you read Mama's Girl by Veronica Chambers? If not, get a copy, it might be helpful.

You're still very young and healing is a process, but do you want to be like Rebecca Walker at 38, still railing against your mother? At some point for YOU and her, you have to move forward.

I cut my dad from my life in the early 1990s. I just realized that he was not going to change and I could not find a way to accept his half-assed approach to fatherhood. I made my peace and wished him well. I was not angry anymore and I felt good about it. I love him and wish him the best, I just don't like the human being he choses to be and I don't have to live with that kind of person around me.

And yes, there are awful black mothers out there, but I'm just not sure what is gained by airing them out in the public eye. And would the world care about Rebecca Walker's bad childhood, if her mother was not famous? And her father doesn't seem to rate much higher in her eyes, but she's not ripping him to shreds in father's day op eds either. So it seems selective.

And for me I am greatly troubled at the idea that when people decide to become parents that automatically everyone assumes that this individual is going to be good at parenting. Folks fail at being parents at different levels everyday. It's not promised that anyone is going to have a loving or supportive parent. That's hard, but the truth.

Naima July 2, 2008 at 12:25 PM  

Rebecca Walker is extremely self absorbed. She has to use her moms last name and talk about her mom because she has nothing else to offer. Have you seen her blog on The Root? Completely useless and petty.

Anonymiss July 2, 2008 at 12:26 PM  

Prof. Tracey,

I'll check that book out. Have you read The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta? The woman in the novel is my mother and her oldest son reminds me of me and my siblings.

And I don't wanna be like Rebecca Walker either. She sounds miserable but I understand where she comes from. She's not channeling her anger properly. I sought therapy because of my crezy family and for life coaching (double consciousness was taxing a sista) and I've become less angry. That's where I had to take my mom's unchosen destiny into consideration. I really feel for her but then she irritates me at times.

My sis is not tryna hear it and doesn't care to consider my mom's possible depression. My brother claims to accept her for who she is yet laments about the past from time to time.

When I said that I don't mind Rebecca writing about the relationship that she had with her mom, I meant that it's necessary for that voice to be heard. A lot of Black kids are raised to worship their mothers and motherhood no matter if their mother was a drug addict or a woman that put the world before her children. The Rebecca Walker types seem to exist heavily in the White community. That's why I always felt like I was breaking some unwritten law in the Black community when I resented my upbringing.

Rev. Lisa wrote about the motherhood idolatry on her blog and it really hit home with me. I never saw that there was a big deal with being a mother because I never got that impression from my mom. And the messages that I'd gotten growing up were very inconsistent.

The Nigerian view of motherhood and wifedom - you are now a woman. The American view - it's your choice to make. My mother's view - bleh.

Anonymous,  July 2, 2008 at 12:43 PM  

I am all for free speech and I don't agree with sacred cows. Alice has done fine work but she's not perfect. Rebecca is a talented writer and makes great points, but she too, has some flaws she must reconcile.

I don't look at Rebecca's writings as airing dirty laundry. I consider it offering a different point of view on a celebrated author.

The truth is a liquid.

Professor Tracey July 2, 2008 at 1:54 PM  

Sorry Anonymous, but it's not about sacred cows, its about respect. And truth is in the eye of the beholder. Rebecca's truth is just that, hers. It ever dawn on you that her mother might have a very different view?

And how many times is she going to put her mother out there for a public lashing? When does enough become enough?

She sounds like a spoiled brat to me and she's a little too old for all that whining. She didn't cry when mama paid for Yale, she lives and has lived a very enriched life that the average black woman knows nothing about.

Professor Tracey July 2, 2008 at 2:05 PM  

@Anonymiss,

You and I will have to talk. I know the joys of motherhood quite well. You will really respect Mama's Girl then. It's an autobiography about a girl very similar to you. Please read it and let me know what you think.

And I raise the point again, Black mothers face different pressures and that affects raising children. We need to put that into context. And what exactly would be gained by black folks mimicking whites by bashing black mothers who struggle with parenting in the public?

Where are the black fathers? Was your father supportive, loving? If he wasn't, do you have the same level of disappointment with him? It's easy to blame the parent that stayed around for their failings.

La ~ msviswan July 2, 2008 at 2:30 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous,  July 2, 2008 at 2:32 PM  

I'm sure Alice Walker has different views about her mothering skills. And an "enriched life" is in the eye of the beholder. I wouldn't trade my own mother for Alice Walker for $1 billion or an ivy-league degree. Still, I'm glad Alice Walker has a voice and I'm glad that Rebecca has one, too.

weemsrj,  July 2, 2008 at 3:13 PM  

I don't mind a "tell all" books, as long as the point of the book is to do more than tell all.

I don't doubt for a moment that Alice Walker was not a perfect mother. But Rebecca Walker's blistering comments about Alice's mothering are suspect to me.

Despite her bitter complaints about her mother, Rebecca has taken advantage of being Alice Walker's daughter and seems incapable of writing about anything other than that relationship (which I'm sure is not lost on Alice).

LorMarie July 2, 2008 at 3:16 PM  

Hi Professor Tracey,

I just want to say that I love your blog. I guess where I am coming from is a place where I can't excuse anyone for hurting another even if she had bad experiences. Rebecca claims that Alice encouraged her promiscuity (at 14) and completely abandoned her. That doesn't represent the behavior of most black women/mothers. I believe that if we were to offer Alice Walker some understanding, we may as well do the same for black fathers who abandon their responsibilities. I also personally do not embrace feminism but that's another issue. I believe that advancing black womanhood means correcting those of us who are wrong while celebrating those who are right. Who would be better to correct black women than other black women.

PioneerValleyWoman July 2, 2008 at 4:17 PM  

Prof. Tracey:

Sorry Anonymous, but it's not about sacred cows, its about respect. And truth is in the eye of the beholder. Rebecca's truth is just that, hers. It ever dawn on you that her mother might have a very different view?

My reply:

In this world of celebrity-dom, Alice Walker would be going on tv to provide her side of the story, but she isn't, for whatever reason...Perhaps she should write her own essays?

On the other hand, this is the sort of thing that R. Walker and her mom need to talk about in private. This should not be a public tirade.

Has she ever talked to her and tried to get an explanation or understand? If she did not get one, is that the reason why she is going public? And even if she did not get an adequate explanation, she has to make peace on her own.

One day her mom will be dead and she might not want to live with the regret over not making peace. I would never want to live with regret over how I treated a parent. The pain would be just about unbearable.

byrdparker,  July 2, 2008 at 7:55 PM  

Hello Prof Tracey

fabulous post , quote "It seems rather hypocritical and cowardly to bash your mother so publicly, yet continue to use her last name as your own." unquote ...

^^^^ This saids it all! She is profiting off of her birthright while simutaneously dismantling it .

Oh i travel in some circles that might be the same as hers and know the story ....

How about the experiences we face in life are to teach us , these experiences are what help in nuturing our own sense of self . we can either wallow in misery , or use it as a stepping stone to become a better person .

Life is not fair , when you come in this world your by yourself and your going to die by yourself , this is the fact . Life is to short to hold grudges ...

If your mother didn't birth you wouldn't be here to write books or posts, design , or do what ever it is you want to do. Forgiveness must start somewhere , everybody is different, and that is what makes the world go around , embrace your pain and you can embrace your joy ! Once I learned this my life truly became fulfilled!!!!

Renee July 2, 2008 at 10:00 PM  

Lets face facts we wouldn't even know who Rebbecca was if it were not for her famous mother. She is more than aware of that and that is why she has not changed her name. I really don't think that she has that much to offer other than trading on her mothers celebrity and now that she has been cut out of the will she will need that more than ever. You just don't air your dirty laundry like that for public view.

Professor Tracey July 3, 2008 at 3:18 PM  

Doc Weems -

Excellent point!

ByrdParker -

Well said and I agree completely!

Renee -

Point made!

PVW -

I think Alice has said all she is ever going to say on the matter, years ago. It's Rebecca that keeps stirring the pot.

AAW July 3, 2008 at 5:46 PM  

I've only read one piece of writing from Rebecca Walker from "theroot.com." And I didn't see much to do about the writing - I like writing which grabs me from the first sentence and gives me something to think about from another perspective.

But you make an interesting point why she chose to use her mother's maiden name yet devalue her in public.

Anonymous,  July 3, 2008 at 10:23 PM  

Real talk: Would you want Alice Walker for a mother? Seriously.

Professor Tracey July 3, 2008 at 11:46 PM  

I don't know, but I would want Rebecca Walker's ungrateful ass as a daughter either. They just might deserve each other.

Bronx347,  July 4, 2008 at 3:21 AM  

First off, children owe NOTHING NADA ZILCH ZIPPO to the parents who made the selfish choice to spawn them anyway, so let's just dispense with that nonsense quickly.

Next, I'm not feeling the subtly greasy comments made about RW's mixed parentage and her adventurous bisexuality. AW felt comfortable rejecting Black men to marry a White Jewish man, no condemnation there, but the product of that union, who share equally both heritage, admitting a fondness for HER FATHER is, what, the traitor??? Also, isn't her jumping from extremes, as you put it, nothing more than a reflection of her mother's actions (Rebecca hooks up with Me'Shell, Alice with Tracy Chapman, find me a difference here...).

Also, we all know that if RW had come out with a memoir running down her father, there WOULDN'T be a blog post NOR any screams from the femblogosphere about her putting a parent's business in the street. Because it's ALICE WALKER, ohhhhhhh hands off, give the woman her privacy (though she's a very public figure who chose to be so).

As for the smirks on Rebecca being a hypocrite because she took her mother's name, she chose to do this about 20 years ago when she first reached adulthood (I'm guessing mother and daughter were a little tighter than today); oh but she's gotta beef with Mom, so she should drop her name. Yet, how many women (or men) go downto the registrar's office and change their name because they're at loggerheads with their parents? Hell, Tina Turner is upheld all the time as a role model for ALL women because she overcame so much abuse and grief from that evil bastard Ike Turner; yet no one seems to bug her about changing her name back to Annie Mae Bullock, or even Tina Bullock. AND IKE WASN'T EVEN A BLOOD RELATIVE FOR CRYIN' OUT LOUD!

As for this statement, "Alice Walker paid a very heavy price to create a open space where black women could embrace feminist ideals on their own terms." You left out the word "got."

Plus, this throwaway notion that, yes AW, in order to spread the fascist doctrines of privileged, wealthy, ultra-bourgeois White women, she somehow became an "inattentive" and "aloof" mother; well, there's a child at the end of that neglect who has to suffer those self-indulgences. And, let's be candid here: if your stock-in-trade is shaming/clowning/bashing motherhood and being a wife, YOU are the one who should be accountable for how YOUR children may take that psychologically.

And, who knows, maybe this is just a bitter seed acting out. Other bitter seeds of neglectful parents become junkies, carjackers, or lapdancers in Tulsa; Rebecca Walker chose a productive path, an intellectual one, which is what feminism fronts itself to be, after all. If she had chosen any of the former, then no one would even be paying her any mind. But because she DARED question THE QUEEN, the royal subjects have become exorcised, ready to wage all-out war. Pretty sad, imho...

Professor Tracey July 4, 2008 at 12:36 PM  

@Bronx347

First of all, at 38 years old, Rebecca Walker is no longer a child. And no one blamed her being born, several people have pointed out that a lot of people have bad parents and they don't write books about it.

And you didn't read carefully enough, Ms. Walker admits the same negative feelings for her father and fondness for her WHITE stepmother. She has been whining about both parents for over 15 years, it's just more profitable to bash the famous Alice Walker!

And I just made an observation that Rebecca Walker has raised herself about her race and sexuality. What's "greasy" about stating the truth? And who said anything about being a traitor? You're raising points I didn't even make.

And since she now completely rejects her lesbian affair and acts like she never did that, what point are you trying to make? If you read her piece, it's a very interesting absence, her failing to mention that six year affair with a woman and the fact they were "co-parenting" Meshell's son. She didn't know the joys of motherhood then?

And Alice was a grown ass woman making decisions about her love life, Rebecca was long gone as an adult. What did her love life have to do with Rebecca's? Except maybe that Alice kept her relationship to herself and was not smashing it in the face of the public. That's the real difference.

And based on your bigoted and biased comments, you clearly have no clue what Alice Walker contributed to feminism, black feminism, womanism, so it's no point in discussing that with someone so ill-informed about women's history, particularly, black women's history.

And Rebecca Walker should change her damn name if all she is going to do is write trash about her mother. I don't care who her mother is. If you hate someone that much, you should reject everything about them. Don't bash someone and use their name to sell books. She should write something else then, do something else.

And I don't get the comparison to Tina Turner, that's apples and oranges. That doesn't make a lick of sense to even bring that up. Tina Turner EARNED her own fame, Rebecca Walker rode her mother's coattails for hers.

Lastly, a bit of advice, R.I.F. - reading is fundamental, make sure you get exactly right what people actually wrote, if you are going to lecture them about what they wrote!

Professor Tracey July 4, 2008 at 4:26 PM  

@Anonymous

I didn't post any of your nasty comments and I won't until you get the GUTS to put your name on your rants. And by the way you can KISS MY BLACK FEMINIST ASS!!!!!

Professor Tracey July 4, 2008 at 4:38 PM  

@Anonymous aka Black Men Vent -

Just so you dumb ass knows, there is a live feed tracker on this blog, that gives the time, place, and location where you came from. Stick to your own shitty blog talking trash. Posting anonymously doesn't save you here!

LorMarie July 4, 2008 at 9:35 PM  

Bronx347 is from that hate site called black men vent. The only difference between them and Stormfront is race. Take a look at their forum. The hate is unbelievable.

Professor Tracey July 5, 2008 at 12:00 AM  

@Lormarie,

Thanks for the information! I figured it out this afternoon what their little group was about. I have already begun taking the necessary steps to handle this little distraction.

Professor Tracey July 5, 2008 at 12:18 AM  

@Bronx347 and your other anonymous buddies

I returned from a lovely day with friends to find your hateful and nasty headlines in my comments. After viewing those headlines, your comments went unread and were deleted.

Anonymous comments are no longer allowed, so your anonymous friends are finished here. Bronx347, you are banned from commenting on this blog, so your comments will go unread and will also be deleted.

This is not a hate blog and it not a place for people that wish to vent hatred on others, particularly black women.

This is a blog for intelligent people who wish to discuss grown up issues affecting black America without calling each other names.

I find it hard to believe that you claim to be from a group that wants to uplift the lives of black people, but go on black blogs spewing venom and hatred.

Good luck with your hate site, I'm gonna keep uplifting the race over here on my blog.

Anonymiss July 5, 2008 at 2:18 PM  

Prof. Tracey,
I'll have to tell you everything at another time through email cuz I could write a novel about my "childhood."

femmeautonome July 5, 2008 at 11:34 PM  

(posted also on What Tami Said)
It's not so surprising to me that Rebecca Walker has kept her mother's last name. I think that whatever her feelings towards her mother, she chose it perhaps she's more comfortable having her mother's name than her father's name or anyone else's name.

I don't think the last name she has should be that big a deal. Her other options are to take her mother's name, her father's name or a husband's name? What's a woman to do? I guess she could create a name for herself, but what would it say about who she is? She has chosen her identity and her feelings toward her mother do not mean she also should reject how she chooses to present herself to the world: as her mother's daughter. She cannot change that by changing her name. And clearly her writing shows that her mother has had an enormous effect on her life so I find the name to be quite fitting.

Professor Tracey July 5, 2008 at 11:56 PM  

@femmeautonome

I guess that is one way of looking at it, but if I had that much venom for my mother, I would not carry her name if I didn't have too.

Luscious Librarian July 6, 2008 at 8:38 AM  

Hi Prof.,
I do consider myself a feminist and I have an affinity for both Rebecca and Alice's writing. I love the sweeping poetic prose of Alice, but it's poetry it's introspective and written from that ethereal space that shows you what could be.

Rebecca on the other hand writes from the space that shows you what is.

I really think the problem that you and a lot of black women have with her is a sibling rivalry. We tend to look on our black women artists as our surrogate mothers. It's that black thang that allows us to get chewed out by a neighbor or spanked by the lady at the grocery store for actin' up and be okay with it.

The anger at Rebecca is the anger of a sister to another who should grieve in private for her lost childhood lest she disrespect our mother and tarnish her good name.

I don't think RW's books discount what AW has done, but speaks from a completely individualistic view on life in that world. I think its done in the same way that many other daughters and sons of activists, hippies, and others have done to illustrate the fact that total rejection of the Mom/Dad/Loving Home model may not yield healthy children.

We have to remove patriarchy from our society, but understand that it was built around a stable foundation. I think a great many feminists of yore tried to destroy the foundation- ya know, throw the baby out with the bath water.

You cannot reject the self-sacrifice that is inherent in motherhood while you embrace the single-minded drive of a career focused icon.

You cannot be completely "sex positive" with your children at ages where they may not be mature enough to understand the implications of their fertility and expect them to become healthy sexual beings.

I think a lot of children of the 80's, of which Rebecca is a member, heard our mothers say 'You can have it all'.

Well, you can't and I think that a lot of women from that era may have missed the point, and Rebecca's writings point this out, and tried to grasp what men had for themselves instead of trying to construct a better system of being for everyone.

Rebecca Walker July 6, 2008 at 3:34 PM  

Cliche:

1. a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse, as sadder but wiser, or strong as an ox.
2. (in art, literature, drama, etc.) a trite or hackneyed plot, character development, use of color, musical expression, etc.
3. anything that has become trite or commonplace through overuse.

Of late, I have received a number of responses about the Daily Mail article. I'm always open to dialog about it, but in all honesty I've been dismayed by the heavily cliched commentary. There is the cliche of the confused, tragic mulatto; the cliche of the ungrateful daughter; the cliche of the out of touch Ivy Leaguer; the cliche of the confused bisexual; the cliche of the wounded child who can't move on; the cliche of the anti-feminist agitator, and so on.

I'm amazed that a person can hold these cliches and read my work, only to still see the world through these cliches when they are finished. These readers apparently bring no openness outside of their own personal ideology to the experience of my writing. Then, they say that I am the one who should break out of the self-centered, narrowness of my views!

I want to take a moment to acknowledge the people with original thought --for and against me-- for their ability to contribute something unique and purposeful in an ongoing dialogue about the world in which we live.

We need you.

BLKSeaGoat July 6, 2008 at 9:41 PM  

Rebecca needs LITHIUM! Period. She is such a self-absorbed, unimportant, self-important, self-righteous, insolent, hypocrite. Yeah, I said it... This is why Alice has PAID HER DUST!!!

If, at 38, and after a bestselling book that one hocked using her mother's celebrity, one cannot be happy or at least satisfied, one needs medication.

Since she loves to hear herself talk (as if most black folks who are high acheivers didn't have overbearing, insensitive parents), I can't wait to hear her latest lamentations about how wretched her mother was, but how she continues to pimp the Walker name for literary relevance. Chile.... Puhleeeeeeze! Spare us all of the anectdotal details about whatever happened to black baby Jane and start writing about SOMETHING WORTH PEOPLE'S TIME TO READ!

What happened to that woman she was dating? Has she pulled an Anne Heche on me? Last I had even heard from Becky she was a deck-building, ethiopian restaraunt frequenting, male genitalia hating, uber lesbian. Has that changed now or is the old man being used as a decoy?

sevenofnine July 7, 2008 at 10:18 PM  

Rebecca Walker's break with her famous mother, whom she says has disowned her, has been like an OPEN WOUND for me. I love Alice Walker, and have a bi-racial child, very much like Rebecca Walker

I hope daughter Rebecca and her mother Alice hear us, along with many others, raising our voices in heartfelt prayer and concern that they, Alice and Rebecca, find peace and understanding with each other!

Alice, who has given so much love & truth to the world, needs to forgive her daughter Rebecca for, RIGHTEOUSLY speaking out about her many years of CHILDHOOD NEGLECT! Speaking out is recognized part in a survivor's healing. Those of us who are parents know, that if there ever was a time for TOUGH love, it is NOT when your daughter is in her 30s!

There is still time for our dear sister Alice, who has given so much love & truth to the world, to forgive and reunite with her daughter Rebecca!

Invisible Woman July 20, 2008 at 12:38 PM  

I know that I am very, very late with my oomment, but having just read your post, you made a spot on, articulate, and illuminating statement.

I've also thought the same thing about her for years, as well as one other blogger who wears her bi-raial status as some kind of "pay attention to me" badge (who remained unnamed).

anna.nowo July 23, 2008 at 12:33 AM  

I think we shouldn't comment on other people's personal lives like this, when we really have no idea what went on. You can argue that you are commenting on what Rebecca said went on, but if Alice isn't commenting what gives us the right?

I also want to talk about this notion of "putting people's business on the street." I sometimes think that is our problem, believing everything should remain secret. Do you know how much mess is allowed to go on because someone was afraid to break the silence? I can't imagine how hard it must be when that person is idolized and adored by many.

Lastly, a few years ago I was in the Bay Area working with Alice Walker. A friend had recently moved there and we met up for lunch, to my surprise and on an unrelated note, she brought Rebecca with her. It was my first time meeting her. That same evening I worked with Alice and having no idea about their relationship, I mentioned I had lunch with Rebecca and that she was a delight and very talented. I did this because I thought I was making a mother proud, stroking her ego. The mother's that I know would have been delighted to hear this. I will never forget that Alice couldn't care less. At that moment, I knew I had misspoke. I will never forget that moment. In fact, every time I see Alice Walker I think about that moment. It was obvious to me she did not give a shit about her daughter.

Sorry, if you are reading this Rebecca, but I'm sure I am not telling you anything you don't already know. (((hugs)))

Professor Tracey July 23, 2008 at 9:30 AM  

Sorry Anna,

But that dog don't hunt here. If you spend nearly twenty years PUBLICLY bashing your mother, EVERYONE has the right to comment on your words. There is nothing to argue about that.

Rebecca has clearly told her mother these thing same things and has not been satisfied throwing her under the bus again and again and again and again and again and again in the public eye. Did it ever occur to YOU the stories Alice Walker might tell Rebecca, but allows her to keep her dignity and not do it publicly?

And as I have said to many other Rebecca Walker lovers like yourself, how long does she get to spent bashing her black mama in the public eye. When does she grow the hell up and get on with her life and let her estranged mother get on with hers?

And if you consider yourself a feminist, what do you think of Rebecca turning on feminism now, the thing that she used to get famous besides her hated mama's name?

Give all the "hugs" you want to, but don't get mad with people that are mature enough to understand that some people are bad parents and that is not necessary an insightful subject for the entire world.

I strongly suggest going back and actually reading my posts and the comments of others. My black women here on this blog feel differently about throwing your mama under the bus to sell books.

And the other question that Ms. Walker didn't answer in her tired comment to me was EXACTLY what are the rest of us supposed to get from her repeated rantings about her mother. I'm still waiting for that answer as well.

I appreciate your point of view and you are welcome to it. We can agree to disagree on this one.

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