September 29, 2007

You Can Have The Cheese, But Don't Move My Mule

Someone has said that Black women are the "mules of the world." Dr. Spencer Johnson wrote a book entitled Who Moved My Cheese?

These facts really do connect. Johnson's book suggests guidelines for embracing personal and institutional change. Some critics have stated Johnson's approach is short-sighted because he doesn't challenge readers to consider if "the change" is a good one, or if the results of change are just or compassionate, or for the common good.

Where's the connection?

I am personally disturbed, surprised, and saddened by what seems to be a constant denigration of Black women in American popular media. I'm including what's commonly referred to as "the news", as well as other media ( videos, websites, music, film, and television). I recently became aware of an emerging phenomenon known as "Internet Ike Turners." What does it all mean? Why are some people so upset and so easily made angry when Black women speak their minds, express their thoughts, and assert their perspectives? What is the change that's eliciting the hostility and anger directed toward intelligent, articulate Black women?

I suppose nobody wants to lose their mule. Having someone at your beck and call who will do whatever you want, even to their own detriment, is a tough perk to sign away. Mules aren't good for much of anything but service, hauling the loads and moving "the goods". Mules aren't really thought of as beautiful, intelligent, or graceful. Is that why so many of the popular "gospel musicals" present men in characterization as Black women (who tend to be bossy, uncouth, and physically unfit)? Yes, Tyler Perry. I mean you. And you too, Eddie Murphy. I didn't think Rasputia was funny.

Even our spiritual leaders are not exempt from the name calling when they decide to speak and be heard and acknowledged. Dr. Renita Weems' blog recounts her experiences with a man who wanted her to "be silent."

Mules are supposed to work. No one is interested in their opinions. If they speak up, everyone will run away. Animals aren't supposed to talk. If you encountered a talking mule, what would you do?


Miriam said...

when they encounter a talking mule, they feel like the biblical wicked Bilam! lol

deborah said...

Yes! I thought about this passage from Numbers 22 as I wrote the post. Interestingly, only the mule could see and respond to the Angel of the LORD.