Michelle Obama
By Mwabi Kaira

Michelle Obama was recently interviewed by poet Elizabeth Alexander at the first annual Obama Foundation Summit.  What she said about parenting is not a new sentiment.  Michelle said, "It's like the problem in the world today is we love our boys, and we raise our girls. We raise them to be strong, and sometimes we take care not to hurt men and I think we pay for that a little bit and that's a 'we' thing because we raise them.  It's powerful to have strong men but what does that strength mean?" she asked. "You know, does it mean respect? Does it mean responsibility? Does it mean compassion? Or are we protecting our men too much so they feel a little entitled and a little, you know, a little self-righteous sometimes? But, that’s kind of on us too as women and mothers, you know, as we nurture men and push girls to be perfect."

Here's why Michelle's words gave me pause.

She doesn’t have sons.

Yes, I realize this was a general statement but had she related it back to growing up with a brother and the apparent different treatment they received with being nurtured versus being pushed to be perfect, pause would not have been necessary. Actress Gabourey Sidibe took to Instagram with Michelle’s clip and captioned it, “I love her so much. I say this all the time! Even my brother will tell you that we basically lived in completely different households, even though we were under the same roof.  Can we start raising these boys to be strong black women cuz I’m very tired.”

Gabourey Sidibe's instagram
Maybe I’m overly sensitive when anyone speaks about the shortcomings of boys because I am a mother of two teenage sons who has gone out of her way to raise my boys and not just love them.  Add raising them in this climate where we have seen Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Mike Brown be killed just because they are boys who happen to be black, and this mothering black sons thing takes on a whole different turn.  I know nothing about raising daughters and would never speak on it.  I have lived long enough to know that being vocal about a subject is completely different from actually living it.

Michelle Obama said what I have heard since I was a young girl.  Because I heard and saw it, I made a conscious decision to work extremely hard to raise my sons to become strong, intelligent, thoughtful, caring, compassionate, feminist men.  I have taught my sons accountability since they were toddlers and I challenge them on not only being responsible for the parts they play in situations but to own them as well.  I encourage them to treat everyone the same from the janitor to the CEO. I have taught them to show respect to everyone and to handle adversity with grace.  I have taught them that rejection is redirection to better things and to not take it so hard.  My sons are not perfect and I wish they were better cleaners when it comes to their rooms but overall they are on the right path and I am proud of them.  I am trying my best to love and raise them and I know I’m not the only mother of sons who feels this way.

Should a mom without sons speak on how they're being raised?
Mwabi Kaira is an African girl navigating her way in an American world.  She is of Zambian and Malawian heritage and moved to the USA in 1993.  Writing has been her passion since she could put a sentence together on the page. Mothering her sons is her pride and joy.  She has been an avid runner since 2013 and has run 10 half marathons and a full marathon.  Keep up with her athttp://africanbeautifulme.blogspot.com/

Bianca Lawson & Kofi Siriboe 
By Erickka Sy Savané

Let me start by saying that I don’t know the first thing about Qüeen Sugar. Other than Kofi Siriboe is fine and Retina Wesley and I acted in a scene together in the movie ‘Hitch’ with Will Smith and got edited out. The first time I watched Queen Sugar I fell asleep. And I’m not proud of that. I love Ava DuVernay. I’ve seen all her movies, including the documentary ‘13th, which should be required viewing. I love her slow pace storytelling, attention to detail, and sensuality. Unfortunately, Queen Sugar lacked drama. HOWEVER, things changed faster than #45’s stance on everything when I read Ava DuVernay’s interview with Buzzfeed. In it she talked about her most recent plot twist. Just wow. 

Ava told Buzzfeed,
“What I’m interested in is making us, as a black family nationally, talk about issues we deal with.”
In this case, she's referring to a plot line in which Kofi Siriboe’s character is dealing with a paternity issue. The child that he loves more than anything might not be his. It's shocking, and a stunner and apparently, a lot of people can relate. Takes me back to high school when a friend gets pregnant and tells the guy she wants to be the dad that he is the father. But everybody knows it’s not true because the baby looks just like the other dude she was messing with. The guy eventually finds out he's not the dad, and all hell breaks loose. Queen Sugar is like a messy episode of 'Maury' with two people who are so damn easy on the eye- Sign Me Up!

Of the scene that Kofi's character finds out he might not be the dad, Ava says,
"I wrote the scene, I edited the scene, I thought about the scene for three years, and it still made me cry."
Made her cry? If this Academy Award-nominated, Sundance Best Director winner, first African American woman to direct a film with a budget exceeding 100 million says this scene made her cry. GOTTA SEE IT. Plus, she thought about it for three years? Some of us don't think about our own lives for that long. But that's why we love Ava!

Then there are the performances. She says, 
"If there was any justice for black performers at award shows, Bianca Lawson as Darla this season and Kofi Siriboe as Ralph Angel will be included in those conversations. I work with a lot of actors. The work that they've done this season on this young black couple's relationship — the joy, the pain, the tears, the love, the loves, the child — ah, it slays me."
If it slays Ava is there any other reason to watch?

Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or ErickkaSySavane.com