I planned on featuring Samuel L. Jackson and his wife of 30 years LaTanya Richardson in my "Darkies in Love" segment when I came across an interview LaTanya recently gave to Essence magazine. LaTanya is currently starring on Broadway in August Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone.
ESSENCE.COM: Bertha Holly, your character, had a subtle strength. How do you think the Black women of the early 1900's differed from today's sisters?
JACKSON: I think they are pretty much the same. Look at Michelle Obama. Everyone keeps making a big deal about her arms begin exposed, but don't get it twisted: her arms are out for a reason. Black women have had those arms forever—lifting, picking cotton, toting and carrying babies. August Wilson wrote about the Black women he knew about and that was the one who had to hold it all together and still have enough insight to know when to be subtle and firm. For me, yesterday's Bertha is what she is today. I know that I am. I'm still in the middle of trying to hold it together.
ESSENCE.COM: Thank you for saying that because some Black men complain that Black women are sometimes too strong and that we need to learn how to fall back. Why do you think that is?
JACKSON: I don't know, but we often do young Black men a disservice as mothers sometimes by not helping them understand what their role is as men in relations to women by telling them silly things like, "You'll never love another woman like me." We shouldn't be telling him stuff like that because that's not going to help him. It's so deep because we are so damaged and not recognizable as ourselves and in our culture and Blackness. Folks are always talking about 40 acres and a mule but what we need is some psychoanalysis. Forget 40 acres in a mule, sign all of us up for some shrinks so we can get ourselves right by reflecting and truly learning ourselves.
ESSENCE.COM: By the way, we think you've done just fine holding it down for you and your family, especially after 29 years of marriage to your husband, Sam Jackson. After all these years what do you believe is the true meaning of love?
JACKSON: When I think about what love is I think about when he's away and when I think about him my whole body smiles; when I look at my daughter and she's okay or just watch Sam and see how he really works to take care of me and her even still at 26 years old. I think about all the things that we've shared up until this point and how we're still able to laugh, enjoy ourselves or even be in different rooms and be okay. The fact that he cares about what's going on in the world and how that's going to affect us as a family and what our responsibility is as a family to make this world a better place—I know what love is.When I read this I almost started crying. I love how she talks about the past subtlety of black women - how necessary it was (and still is) for us to be able to discern when, where and how to display our "strength". Many modern black women have lost the ability AND DESIRE to control their emotions.
But back to the interview....
Here is a real black woman talking about the true affects of "damaged negroes" from a completely different standpoint. She has not "divested" from the community - she is trying to lead by example with her black family. She is gorgeous (the clucking hens would call her "average"), smart, talented, successful and happily married - yet she can still see the psychological damage so many African-Americans are mired in and she has sympathy. She is not using racist jargon to describe the bulk of her fellow African-Americans while she happily skips away and out of the "mess".
I will write a post soon about the Jackson's and their marriage and how they are proof that love really does conquer all. I imagine it'd be a lot harder for Sam to find a LaTanya these days - even at Spelman.