Welcome to One Page, a newsletter that transports you into the world of an outstanding book for a few minutes. A couple of times a week, we’ll send you a great passage from a book we love. (To subscribe, unsubscribe, or donate, see below.) Red Room Editors Gina and Huntington selected a page from Mom & Me & Mom, by Maya Angelou (2013), to share with you today:
Frequently, I have been asked how I got to be this way. How did I, born black in a white country, poor in a society where wealth is adored and sought after at all costs, female in an environment where only large ships and some engines are described favorably by using the female pronoun—how did I get to be Maya Angelou?
Many times I have wanted to quote Topsy, the young black girl in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I have been tempted to say, “I dunno. I just growed.” I never used that response, for a number of reasons. First, because I read the book in my early teens and the ignorant black girl embarrassed me. Second, I knew that I had become the woman I am because of the grandmother I loved and the mother I came to adore.
Their love informed, educated, and liberated me. I lived with my paternal grandmother from the time I was three years old until I was thirteen. My grandmother never kissed me during those years. However, when she had company, she would summon me to stand in front of her visitors. Then she would stroke my arms asking, “Have you ever seen arms more beautiful, straight as a plank and brown as peanut butter?” Or she would give me a tablet and a pencil. She would call out numbers to me in front of her company.
“All right sister, put 242, then 380, then 174, then 419; now add that.” She would speak to the visitors, “Now watch. Her uncle Willie has timed her. She can ﬁnish that in two minutes. Just wait.”
When I told the answer, she would beam with pride. “See? My little professor.”
Love heals. Heals and liberates. I use the word love, not meaning sentimentality, but a condition so strong that it may be that which holds the stars in their heavenly positions and that which causes the blood to ﬂow orderly in our veins.
This book has been written to examine some of the ways love heals and helps a person to climb impossible heights and rise from immeasurable depths.
A $1 donation allows you to buy any of Maya Angelou’s books today at 40% off. For a donation of $5, $25, or $100, you’ll get 40% off all books purchased in the next week. For $250, we’ll send you a copy of Mom & Me & Mom and The Complete Selected Poems of Maya Angelou, plus a Red Room Author a little less busy than Dr. Angelou will take you to lunch. (Onerous restrictions apply.)
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-The Red Room Team