Mama’s Meuzz: the beauty and pain of black motherhood


by Kathya Alexander

On Friday November 12, Monique Franklin will take the stage to share a reading of her provocative play Mama’z Muezz. The show begins at 7 p.m. at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute. Accompanied by a live quartet, Mama’z Meuzz examines the experiences of African-American mothers from current, historical and ancestral perspectives.

Franklin will also share a portion of Mama’z Muezzeum, an interactive, introspective experience full of ancestral artifacts, adornments, and altars that recognize what many consider to be universal experiences (like conception and birth) that for many. many mothers have traumatic experiences involving grief and trauma. and who need healing.

In addition to free tickets, black women attending the show who are mothers will receive a signed copy of the “Mama’z Muezz” chapbook, a collection of poems from the play. They will also receive a flower, a magnet, royal seats at the front of the house and a free digital download of the “Mama’z Muezz” mini album.

“One of the things that was really important to me as a single black mom,” said Franklin, “was honoring the other black moms in our community outside of Mother’s Day and creating a really special experience. for them in this read. And so we were able to create the Black Queen Mother experience, which offers free tickets to the play and reception and a preview of the Mama’z Muezzeum.

Exploring the myriad emotional and spiritual aspects of motherhood took Franklin on a journey of discovery spanning centuries, both physically and metaphysically. For Franklin, the show is about self-realization and healing. It’s about exploring, as a mother, where you’ve been and where you’re trying to go and encouraging black mothers to take the time to do it for themselves.

Mama’z Muezz started as a work in progress in 2014 when Franklin was selected to be part of the creation project with the CD Forum. Working with her mentor, Valerie Curtis-Newton, she created a 30-minute piece that was an exploration of motherhood, black women as individuals and black mothers collectively. At the time, she was exploring her own experiences at the intersection of motherhood, womanhood, and darkness in America. And she began to include the experiences of other notable black women, like Mamie Till-Mobley, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Alice Walker, in researching stories of black women to better understand her own life.

When she began to explore how other mothers she respected navigated motherhood, and to explore the experiences of black women who happened to be mothers in a historical context, it led her to investigate her spiritual connections. and ancestral. So Mama’z Muezz tells the stories of Franklin, but it also includes the stories of black women that people know, although perhaps from a different perspective.

For example, Franklin thought, a lot of people know who Granny Till is, but they don’t – they have no perspective on her life. They have a perspective of her as Emmett Till’s mother and what she did in response to being his mother. But not necessarily who she was before it happened, or who she was to make it happen next. “

Mamie Till-Mobley is canonized in American history as the 20th century black mother who started the civil rights movement after the tragic circumstance of having a child lynched by white supremacists – a threatened story by Trump’s attacks on critical race theory and more current laws against teaching the truth about systemic racism in the United States. She may be one of the best-known black mothers of the last century who started a social justice movement because of the violence perpetrated against her child, but she was not the first to live this experience, and she was certainly not the last. Others include Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, whose death created the Black Lives Matter movement, and Larcenia “Cissy” Jones Floyd, the mother of George Floyd, who he cried at during those nine long minutes where a white policeman slowly murdered. him using his knee on George Floyd’s neck to cut off his ability to breathe.

Franklin’s play envisions another black mother in Jim Crow’s time whose child is hanged while the whites around her, wives and children, “drank tea and their children played, while they were playing. were sitting and smiling and they were sitting and they were smiling “. Based on historical accounts, white society has regularly witnessed this type of horror. She challenges the mentality of white families when such an event might feel like an everyday snack and the kids aren’t terrified. And what about white men who are capable of such violent acts?

Franklin said, “Like, if you do this, if you’re so fragile that you do this because someone looked you in the eye, I can only imagine what you don’t take home from your. wife or your children. This level of violence does not come out just when the fire is lit and the rope is running. “

Unfortunately, systemic racism is not limited to lynching. These are the daily events that black mothers go through to protect their children at school, where black students are subjected to disciplinary measures at much higher rates than their white counterparts. And to protect themselves during childbirth, where black women have Maternal mortality rates two to three times higher than those of white women.

After black women have been demonized throughout history as Jezebels, Wellness Moms and Queens, part of the experience of Mama’z Muezz is the diversity of final moments of the black motherhood experience that offer gratitude, celebration, wisdom, condolences and healing. Franklin approaches this complex subject in a way that honors one of the most disgraced segments of American society.

To note: This event follows King County’s mandate that people aged 12 and older show full proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result within the last 72 hours for admission.

Fiction: The Murder of Emmett Till by Kathya Alexander

Catherine Alexander is a writer, actor, storyteller and teaching artist. His writings have appeared in various publications such as ColorsNW Magazine and Arkana Magazine. She has won several awards, including the Jack Straw Artist Support Program Award. His collection of short stories, Angel in addiction, is available on Amazon.

?? Featured Image: Monique Franklin (Photo: Michael B. Maine)

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