I had a very unique upbringing. I was raised by a single mother who has a disability that hinders her ability to perform typical motherly duties (note: I won't delve too much into that part of my life because, lucky for you, I wrote about it here lol.) But because of my mother's disability I, very early on, understood the ancient proverb "it takes a village to raise a child."
My mother doesn’t have any biological sisters. She has two brothers. Yet somehow I accumulated an executive board of aunties who entered my life and said, "yes" when presented with the idea of helping raise Kia and ensuring that she wants for nothing along this journey of life. Be it my mother’s bestfriends, her work friends, our church family, and more – a village raised me.
In Black culture, specifically, the title of Auntie has a lot of unspoken meaning and truth. It's almost as if they pledge, "I do solemnly swear to pour into this child as if she/he were my own. To love through every mistake, to serve as a listening ear and to be a watchful eye when needed." So for someone to take on such a title means that they are willingly entering a village that is committed to the success of this child regardless of the circumstances that may arise along the way. A village raised me.
When Maxine Waters garnered national attention for her non-bs taking, receipt bringing, trendsetting, time reclaiming, head turning presence, Black Twitter rightfully crowned her Auntie Maxine. Because if we ever needed a walking example of an Auntie, Maxine Waters would be front and center. And when we bestowed this well-deserved title upon her, it made me think of all the aunties in my life, my friend’s lives, my future children’s lives, all the aunties around the world and the imperative role these women play in our villages.
While I can only speak from experience, I think there is a great deal to be said about these women that, simply put, are there! There’s something great to be said about these women who willingly shower us with love, support, guidance and food as if they birthed us themselves. There's something to be said about these women who go out of their way to speak up for us, pray for us, fight for us, take us in, and become a safe space in a world that often doesn’t provide that comfort. A village raised me.
And while I’m aware that nothing will ever replace my mother's love and her ability to attend my graduation, my probate and the most pivotal moments in my life, I take comfort in knowing that my aunties showed up when my momma could not because, as Black Aunties…that's just what they do.
Day in and day out there are thousands of Black Aunties working endlessly to ensure that the lives of young people don’t fall apart at the seams. For that very reason they deserve an abundance of recognition. This Thanksgiving, along with countless other things, I am overly thankful for the Black Auntie. If these women have taught me nothing else, they've definitely taught me that it takes a village and boy did they raise a child.