Author: Carolyn Edgar

Am I Allowed to Be Happy Even If My Kids Are Not?

I was raised to believe that happiness and motherhood were inherently incompatible, if not irreconcilable. I learned from my mother’s example. Mothers did not live to be happy. Mothers lived to be useful. Mothers lived to be productive. I don’t remember my mother ever talking about being happy. I do remember her always working, laboring, being useful to others. My mother’s hands seemed like they never stopped moving. If she wasn’t pulling strings off string beans or picking worms off tomatoes in her garden, she was peeling apples for a pie or peaches for a cobbler. Or, she was sewing us or herself a new outfit, or turning our old outgrown clothes into quilts. Over time, arthritis made sewing too difficult, but she kept cooking and gardening until the day she took her last breath. As infants, my children were born pushy, in that way that is socially acceptable only for babies and cats. My daughter came out stubborn, demanding and unapologetic. My son, on the other hand, used his fat cheeks, bright eyes and …

tuenight fifty 50 carolyn edgar

It Turns Out Black Does Crack, It Just Starts On The Inside

Let me let you in on a little secret about black: It cracks. Not our faces, if we cleanse and moisturize and exfoliate consistently. Black women’s skin tends not to wrinkle. Our faces can look easily 10 to 20 years younger than our driver’s licenses say we are — if we maintain our health. But that’s the biggest if. Our health is where we black women tend to crack. Our black cracks from the inside out. It cracks under the weight of taking care of everybody but ourselves. It cracks under the pressure of smoothing out our rough edges and filing down our sharp tongues, lest we be tarred and feathered as angry black women for speaking our minds. And it cracks under our need to present our lives to the world as perfect, to counteract all of the negative stereotypes of black women and black families. We crack under the black-love-is-always-a-beautiful-thing pretensions of perfect marriages, children on the fast track to the Ivy League and well-behaved pets with glossy coats and camera-ready smiles. In …

Prince Taught Me My Dirty Mind Was Just Fine

Prince was the first man I ever loved. When I heard Prince’s first album, For You, I was a chubby 12-year-old girl with thick thighs, an ample rear and a dirty mind. I was an honor student whose tendency to correct my teachers and point out their flawed logic in class got me called to the principal’s office for insubordination. I was the girl the boys in school either ignored or called fat, while men in cars drove behind me as I walked home, shouting out of cranked-down windows what they’d like to do to my pre-teen ass. I sat next to my dad on the sofa every weekend, watching sports with him while quietly lusting over the quads and abs and glutes of my favorite players. As the youngest of six kids, I read everything my siblings read, from their biology textbooks to porn magazines, and I listened to all the music they listened to, from hard rock to jazz to pop to easy listening to R&B. Musically and culturally, I was ready for …

Could I Remain Friends with My Ex?

For my entire adult life, breakups have been horrible, often occasioned by infidelity and replete with things said that can’t be taken back. Merely mentioning the names of some of my exes often triggers a level of revulsion usually reserved for serial killers. And I’ve never remained friends with my exes. I have plenty of friends. Why pretend to still be civil to someone who hurt me? Ending my marriage was no different. Although cheating was not the cause of our separation, there was too much bad blood between us for my ex and I to maintain even a semblance of friendship. We tried co-parenting, but ultimately, it has been easier to go it alone than to try to force a co-parenting relationship on my ex, or — more importantly — on my kids. When I finally started dating again, five years after my divorce, my first serious post-divorce boyfriend seemed to be the complete package. My boyfriend was kind, considerate, and intelligent. When he wasn’t talking about black history, politics, or sports, he would …

Policing Outrage: Are We Too Sensitive About Insensitivity?

Folk singer Ani DiFranco is criticized for scheduling a retreat at a Louisiana plantation. Musician and popular DJ Questlove mocks how Japanese speak English by reversing his Ls and Rs. MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry features a panel on her show that makes fun of Mitt Romney’s adopted black grandson. Educator and school reform advocate Grant Wiggins refers to the practice in many schools of separate bathrooms and lunchrooms for teachers and students as “apartheid.” What do all of these incidents have in common? Charges of racial insensitivity, individuals on social media coming together to express varying degrees of disgust and disappointment with the person’s behavior, and, eventually, some sort of “apology” from the actor for any unintended offense. The cycle of outrage and apology for insensitive statements has become all too familiar. But have we become too sensitive about insensitivity? [pullquote]Who has the right to tell another person, “You have no right to be upset about that”? Who has the right to dictate what topics are and are not worthy of someone else’s ire?[/pullquote] Online, …