The Black Card: Big Mama I Don’t Eat Okra, Speaking Truth To Power!

By Terry Allen
CEO 1016 Media
Founder, Sister CEO Small Business Camp

I come from a down home country culture where back porch wisdom ruled, and certain standards were deep tradition in my family. For example, everyone was home on Sunday for dinner, no exceptions. You never spoke up around your elders. Remember, children are supposed to be seen not heard? In Big Mama’s house, you did your homework before dinner and before play. You had school clothes and play clothes in my family. The traditions were so strong. We had food rules as well. Rice was dinner food. We only had cabbage if Aunt Rosie cooked it because Big Mama said.

“You can’t eat anybody’s cabbage. You know what happened to Cousin Pearl. Everybody can’t cook cabbage.” Then she would set the rules for the house. We were a Gold Medal, Tide, Clorox, Brillo and Palmolive family, no exceptions. My grandmother, Lucille “Big Mama” Allen always said, “Beloved, this house will always have rules. There will be no cabbage, no okra, no chitterlings in this house.” So, her inner strength drove all of us throughout my growth form our childhood to our adulthood. So, let me tell you my own Okra story. I had a speaking engagement on the West coast one evening and had to be on the East coast to speak at a luncheon full of nonprofit directors the next day.

I am flying against the clock and four time zones, so I had to leave the evening engagement and go straight to the airport. On the plane all I had were pretzels and peanuts and I arrived one hour before my next speech. I was so hungry going on the stage that I asked the host, Connie, to please save me something to eat when I finish. After the speech, I ate two bowls of nice butter-laced, spice filled beans and veggies. I asked the host as I took my tenth bite, “this is good what is it?” She said, “It’s my family Okra recipe.” I choked and began to spit it out. Shouting to her, “I don’t eat okra!” “You just did, three bowls full,” she laughed.

In conclusion, I learned I liked okra. At least hers! The lesson was that I have used too many external rules to guide my internal choices. I had given my power to my grandmother’s experiences. On that day I spoke my own truth to power and ate two more bowls of Connie’s okra delight. Hummph! I later married Connie. I spoke my own truth to power. Thank you, Connie, and thank you, Iyanla for having the same Okra liberation. Right where I am, the greatness of God is too. So during this civil unrest and failed leadership, I will speak my truth at the polls, in the streets, and at home. I will vote for things that power me. I will give up all those external messages for my own inner authority to make an America that I love. Stories are powerful. Next week, I will tell you my chocolate cake story. Stay tuned! Thanks, Cheryl Smith for my platform.

Terry Allen is an award-winning media professional, journalist, and entrepreneur. He is also the founder of City Men Cook and 1016 Media.