Quit Playin’: Mama Said…

By Vincent L. Hall

“Mama said there would be days like this.” There seems to be no defined author or pen name attached to this ageless anecdote. Some lump it with familiar “old wives tales,” which is categorized as superstition or traditional belief that is regarded as unscientific or incorrect. Mothers have said it for generations and COVID-19 is making it more believable each day. When tragedy strikes a nation that values its dollar signs over your vital signs, this has to be the “days” mama was talking about. Big Mama, been telling you for years that you never miss your water ‘til your well runs dry. America’s rising economic well is now filled with woes.

Nana said that all money ain’t good money. You took that with a grain of salt, and now you have to choose whether you want to return to your job at an infected meat plant or try to live long enough to see your children graduate. Grandmother Hall parroted what Grandmother Figures said. “Alright boy, you doing good, but always remember to put something back for a rainy day. Don’t break a dollar to spend a dime.” It’s raining every day now, and the forecast doesn’t seem to show it letting up for another 18 months. What you got saved?

Aunt Ora warned, like B.B. King and Ray Charles did, that the same thing that’ll make you laugh will make you cry. Donald Trump knows that now. He laughed as he disassembled Obama’s Pandemic panel, now he’s crying the bitter tears of regret. Regretfully, millions of us are crying as we near 100,000 lost loved-ones within the next 30 days. Aunt Juanita and her husband always had a business of their own. “God Bless the child that’s got his own.” We have watched this shutdown shatter small businesses in our community. Now we must strategize on how to take control of our own. If we could take over the Mama Said…. donut shops, hair-care stores, and the nail shops where Black folks live, we could command billions of dollars each year. Quit Playin’, that’s the original recycling program!

Black mothers have said that, “Black don’t crack and Brown don’t frown,” but you cannot tell during this pandemic. Minorities and immigrants are dying like flies; we are dying in bunches, and no one seems to care. The gravity of this nation’s indifference to poor and uninsured people has come down hard. America has always practiced social distancing. What we are doing today with this virus is merely physical segregation. America is eight parts cosmopolitan, two parts slum and never the twain do meet. My mama always said, “every tub has to be on its bottom, and everybody gotta meet Jesus for themselves.”

She was right. Nobody can protect you from this virus but you and if you don’t know God by now…well Hell!! Commissioner John Wiley Price, who may have been called a “mother” more than once called me and in the course of our discussion, he said, “Mama said that there would be days like this.” She was right, my mothers were right, your mothers are right! As a society of people in a male dominated society, we have allowed the simple suggestions of our matrons to escape us. Because they lack statistics, higher education or for other reasons, we have discounted what they said.

So much of the anecdotal narratives our mothers passed down to us have been rooted and refined in hard times. The survival stories of the Great Depression are dying by way of COVID-19 and many other health complications. Our mothers’ prayers are that the youth of this generation will toughen mentally and spiritually because of this existential threat. We should all pray that they learn to save for bad times, relish the good ones, and love their neighbors and this earth in the way God commanded. Mama said there would be days like this. Happy Mother’s Day Mom! We hate hearing “I told you so,” but you were right all along!