Maya Angelou, Caged Bird Sings
My character design
Maya Angelou, a national treasure.
When I woke up this morning and heard that Maya Angelou passed away, I was so saddened. She was an incredible woman, author, activist, poet, and actress. I remember seeing her on the Cosby Show, and Touched by An Angel, among other guest appearances. Sadly I must admit, I didn't read anything by her until just a couple months ago. After I got my Kindle I decided lots of books that I had always wanted to read were now affordable and storable. Since we moved to this little apartment, I have been downsizing all books, but the Kindle has made owning books reasonable again. That's why I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was on my list of books I always wanted to read but never got around to.
A little girl in the South
The story follows a little girl through discovery of her world, her own body, her ethnicity, her desire for love, and the horrors and childhood trauma of pedophilia and rape. I knew there were some strong issues in the book before I bought it, but the way she wrote about it and handled it brought you into the mind of the child traumatized by an event that would break most people. And she was made to handle it without the kind of therapy that is available today. I was deeply moved by her resolve, her strength of character, and her ability to put the pieces of her life back together again. She had literature and her writings to help her. She had her loving grandmother and her brother to stand by her. But she faced the continued prejudice and race hatred of that deep south mentality.
Words are Things
Raising a granddaughter
In the story, she is living with her grandmother because her parents are divorced. She lives for a short time with her mother, where the rape occurs, and spends some time with her father, which wasn't ideal either. I must admit, I am a sheltered white woman, who can only imagine the hardships and injustices that black people had to and have to endure in the south. When her grandmother was forced to take her up the stairs to back entrance of a dentist's office to beg for help with her granddaughter's tooth pain, by heart broke. She humbled her self in front of that arrogant white b*****d for the sake of her granddaughter. I'm sure I would have done the same. Wouldn't any parent? But when he turned her away even after all the things she said she had done for him, like her, I was mad. And when the grandmother went back up the stairs and marched into the place without even knocking to tell that man off, I was so with her. What I can never comprehend is that by doing that, she was literally putting herself and her family at risk of retaliation from the white folks who run things. Gratefully, retaliation didn't come because the grandmother held such a reputation in the town. But I wanted that dentist to get some of his own. Those poor dears were made to endure an hour long bus ride into another town where there was a "colored dentist" that could see the girl.
Sheltered in California
In my ignorance and sheltered California life, I can't imagine. I can only read about such atrocities and wonder how we let such things happen. How could the world be such a cold and calloused place that such horrors are allowed to happen to people just because of the hue of their skin? Have we changed? Have we gotten better? Are we now a nation where those kinds of things don't happen anymore? Did Maya Angelou leave a better place than she grew up in? I would love to say, yes. But the real truth is that a country or people who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I'm afraid that is where we stand.