Two Women

The television was on, and the words “Make America Great Again” came out of Donald Trump’s mouth like he was born with them on his lips. Mildred Jones and her daughter Whitley both cringed in disgust as they listened to him. Mildred suggested going out on the porch, she liked to go out on the porch; to her, it felt like a salon where she could air her thoughts without interruption. Whitley also loved to hear her mother’s imparted wisdom, and so the two entered the open air of the porch and a conversation began to take shape.

“You believe that crock of shit? ‘Make America Great Again’? Not if you Black, not if you a woman, and God help you if you both. Ain’t nobody got you but you. You got to find a village just to barely survive. And then them devil-ass White women just elected a damn orangutan, and got the nerve to ask for your sweat, baby I tell you. I’m gone tell you like I read it, Black women been mules for far too long. Not one more damn load on our backs, and for what? So we can help White women feel better about resisting? We been resisting longer than they can imagine, and we ain’t get a damned thing in return.”

Mildred drew a long sip from her iced tea, cocked her head over at her daughter and remarked “Baby, I’m talking ain’t I?” in that dignified way that only old Black women can without sounding completely full of themselves.

“Only the truth, Mama. I been reading about this march and I been asking myself ‘Why now’? How come they want us to come in, do their labor, have their children and then raise the baby while they take credit? I guess they just doin what they always done, put a few Black women on the ticket as if to say ‘look, we’re not racist’ but the whole time being just as racist as they husbands. I just know I’m damn tired, mama.”

Whitley exchanged a knowing look of mutual exhaustion with her grey-haired mother as she sat on the veranda, which for the moment had become a pulpit for the two women to vent about their frustration with the state of current events, and men.

“Can you believe that Louis Farrakhan still talking out the side of his neck, mama? How old is he again, still trying to hold onto them old ass ways?”

“You know them conscious Negroes always got to think the revolution gone come through them and their loins, and they forget who taught they asses everything they think they know about revolution. Quiet as kept, it was Black women who taught Malcolm X. Negroes out here acting like Assata Shakur ain’t defy America at the cost of her freedom.”

“But they worship the Panthers , let them niggas tell it. Ain’t not one of them men ever did no shit like that, them niggas scared to come protest for us, for Sandra and for Rekia and even for Aisha. How they gone defy America for us?”

“Talk, baby. You sho nuff mine.”

Whitley took a sip of the lemonade, and looked at her mother with a deep admiration in her eyes. Her mother caught the look.

“America ain’t never been great, not for us, our skinfolk or the original people of this country and this damn Goblin these folk done put in the White House ain’t gone make it great. He might just kill it though.”

“But won’t that be good for us, since we oppressed?”

“Don’t you be no fool, Whitley. We still got to live here. Us po, oppressed folks got to survive as best we kin, cause we can’t afford to pick up and move. As bad as a destroyed America would be for the rich, it would be a thousand times worse fuh us po folk. Our duty is to survive, we ain’t got a damn thing to prove hoping for destruction.”

Whitley paused to absorb the weight of the words from her mother for a few moments before responding.

“America still ain’t shit.”

“You damn right it ain’t. Ain’t never been, ain’t never gone be shit till it do right by us.”

The two women sat for awhile enjoying the cool evening breeze and the sounds of the sparrows tweet-tweeting in the trees before Whitley broke the comfortable silence.

“Well mama, I got to run, John’ll be home any minute. He say he like to see me first thing when he get home from work. He say a lot of things, sweeter than honey. When you want me to come back?”

Mildred looked at her disapprovingly over her horn rimmed glasses, leaned back in her chair, and crossed both arms and legs before speaking up.

“What you mean want you to come back? I always want you to come back. Girl you my chile, you always wanted round this porch, this house and this land. Ain’t nothin gone change that, and if you got to go, then go. But go cause you wanna go. Not cause some man like to look at you. I ain’t raise you like that.”

“He don’t mean nothin by it-”

“Look now, if you gotta go then go, just don’t be arranging your life and your free time around some man like you ain’t free, like you ain’t a woman.”

“I hear you mama”

“Now come here and give your mama a hug, chile. You know you my favorite daughter.”

“I’m your only daughter, mama.”

“Same difference.”