Gayle Bell


Our Culture Protests. . . But Not If She’s . . .


I spoke with a cabbie today.  He was amazed that I’m clean and sober for decades.  How did you do it he exclaimed.  Well, the Lord; I off hand, that and the aa/na sis/brohood.  We don’t have that in my community.  No re-hab, no self-help places.  Our community is small in a large area.  If there is bad family we have nothing to do with them, our children do not play with them, we do not arrange marriage with them.  Nothing.  Our culture protects us.  Why did that word have an ugly stain?


I asked, but not women right, they can’t be addicts and alchys right?  Baited further he told me; woman can drink, but can get drunk, she can’t get drunk he urgent, we will have nothing to do with her; we will cast her out.  She will be on her own.  Her family will shame her.  She will have no dowry, lower than a prostitute.


Our families, our friends will be closed to her; but what if she gets hurts? I try to plea for compassion.  She will get hurt. He offhand. But she can change, I remind him.  I changed.  I know, he shakes his head incredulously. 


While it would be simple for me to decry a culture and world I know only in the pages of the Africana Encyclopedia on my bed stand.  The women on our and other shores are treated; to borrow a soylent green reference; as furniture. We went down this perilous way several more times; my attempt to plea her case struck down.  My destination was reached.