Cover image for What mama couldn't tell us about love : healing the emotional legacy of slavery, celebrating our light
What mama couldn't tell us about love : healing the emotional legacy of slavery, celebrating our light
Richardson, Brenda Lane, 1948-
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, [1999]

Physical Description:
xxviii, 241 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E185.86 .R53 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
E185.86 .R53 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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"Mama," writes Brenda Richardson, "you taught me how a black woman could survive and prevail in this world . . . but because you never learned yourself, you couldn't teach me how to make love work. . . . I don't mean any disrespect, Mama, but . . . now I have children of my own. And in a loud revolutionary voice, I declare to the universe: the pain stops here."

Author Notes

Brenda Lane Richardson, the author of Chesapeake Song, is an award-winning journalist and a noted public speaker.
Essence columnist Dr. Brenda Wade is a clinical psychologist, a well-known television personality, and a popular public speaker who lectures widely across the country.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Richardson and Wade present another self-help guide on relationships and intimacy for African American women. What makes this work unique is that it makes the direct connection between slavery and emotional health. They make an intriguing case, citing works of such scholars as bell hooks to support their contentions. The major sections of the book deal with emotional heritage, what our mothers couldn't tell us, and the keys to self-love. The authors include personal anecdotes and case studies as well as tips for personal development and empowerment. The acknowledgment that women's lessons about love are learned from their first teachers (mothers), who also feel the enormous burden of societal ills, makes this treatise interesting. African American women striving to improve on those life lessons as well as develop new survival techniques will be challenged and enlightened. The resource sections on assistance for individual or group work, mental health organizations, and sisterly support are valuable additions. This work will surely be discussed in academic circles but also around the kitchen table. --Lillian Lewis

Publisher's Weekly Review

Based on their belief that "descendants of people stolen from sub-Saharan Africa" have a unique ancestral history that affects their intimate relationships, journalist Richardson and psychologist Wade (the coauthors of Love Lessons) have written a guide to emotional, romantic and sexual success aimed at the African-American Everywoman. Drawing on anecdotal material and occasionally the experiences of fictional characters in the work of Toni Morrison, the authors devote the bulk of the book to exploring specific "anti-intimacy beliefs" that they claim are rooted in slavery (e.g., "My body is not my own"; "no matter what I do, it won't make a difference"; "I'm not good enough to be loved"), and outlining "life-enhancing beliefs" ("God loves me"; "I can make something from nothing") that can be superimposed in their place. They also provide meditations for clearing the bodily energy centers known as chakras, instructions for constructing an emotional genealogy, role-playing exercises and other familiar techniques for working through negative attitudes and emotions. Though skeptics may not be convinced by the vaguely worded yet impossibly exact statistics that Richardson and Wade use to bolster their thesis ("90 percent of our beliefs and behaviors arise from the subconscious"), and their premise is bound to stir debate, their recommendations, especially for handling anger and depression, are on-target. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Authors' Note: To You from Usp. xi
Prologue A Letter to Mamap. xiii
Introductionp. xvii
Part 1 Our Emotional Inheritance
1 The Past as a Presencep. 3
2 Limiting Beliefs and Freeing Beliefsp. 14
Part 2 What Mama Couldn't Tell Us
3 Believe in Abundancep. 33
4 Love Yourselfp. 61
5 Open Your Heart to Your Manp. 85
6 We Can Be Good and Angryp. 100
7 You're Not Evil, but You Might Be Depressedp. 126
8 You Don't Have to Be Your Man's Mamap. 153
9 Your Body and Your Sexuality Are Yoursp. 172
Part 3 The Keys to Self-Love
10 Forgiving Those Who Hurt Usp. 195
11 Using Life-Enhancing Beliefsp. 203
Epiloguep. 221
Resourcesp. 223
Notesp. 225
Indexp. 237