Women have always had to deal with how to juggle our many roles and how those roles make us feel. Can we be a Power Professional & a Housewife? A Fly Diva and a Mother? Can we be independent yet dependent? In 2011, there are many women who would say it’s just too tough to combine these roles and you need to “pick a role” and do that one well.
Well, as a wife who just about worships her husband, intensely loves her 4 children, and fiercely knows she is a Mogul in the making—I feel I can do it all!
The below article from AOL Black Voices got me to thinking about this topic and the notion of being a “housewife” and/or a “businesswoman” and what we all attach to those labels.
When I was younger, in moments of my most impertinent, most naive arrogance, I wondered why my extraordinarily intelligent mother decided to become a housewife. Why didn’t she do more with her great gifts? It was Alice Walker’s groundbreaking 1974 essay ‘In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens’ that matured me on this subject. In homage to Phillis Wheatley, Walker writes: “It is not so much what you sang, as that you kept alive, in so many of our ancestors, the notion of song.”
Walker taught me that my mother is an artist in her own right. Her choices were narrower than mine, and her decision to support her husband and children was a noble one. Now that I am a “wife” and often find myself shifting between doing author appearances and washing dishes, I understand that such delineations are complicated, at best. I also understand that the success of my entire family, especially my father, was afforded by my mother’s sacrifices.
When I think of Women’s History Month, I want to pay homage to women whose role as wives often eclipsed their own sweet songs. What about all of the women who lived in the shadows of their husbands?
When National Book Award-winning author Ralph Ellison died of pancreatic cancer in 1994, he was survived by his wife, Fanny Ellison, who went on to manage his estate until her passing in 2005. Coretta Scott King carried on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy for 38 years following her husband’s death. As head of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, Rachel Robinson has kept alive her husband’s legacy by becoming a great humanitarian and philanthropist.
I do not mean to suggest that these women are not stars in their own right. Each woman I mention is uniquely accomplished, and most have gone on to emerge from their husband’s shadows. Rachel Robinson had a distinguished career as a nursing professional. Shirley Graham DuBois, wife of W.E.B. DuBois, was a novelist and playwright. Lil Hardin Armstrong, second wife of jazzman Louis Armstrong, was a pianist, composer and bandleader and collaborated professionally with her husband during the 1920s. Amy Jacques Garvey, second wife of Marcus Garvey, was an accomplished journalist and author. Even my own mother became a respected small business owner.
Yet the line between wife and public-sphere professional can be a difficult one to navigate. Winnie Mandela, former wife of Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela, has experienced her own share of challenges in her public life — a life that will be portrayed by actress Jennifer Hudson in the upcoming film ‘Winnie.’ First Lady Michelle Obama suspended a career as a lawyer and hospital administrator to take on the role of the nation’s most public wife of all — a role that has required her to re-imagine her contributions as a professional.
For The Full Article CLICK HERE.