Archive for April, 2010

The Rebirth of Chivalry

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2010 by Raqiyah Mays

Lately I’ve been singing like I’m Biz Markie, “It’s spring agaaaain.” I get flashbacks to 1989 and see Biz in the video with his big bottom lip hanging, as he cruises down the street in a Rolls Royce chillin. “It’s Spring Again” is a feel good hip hop classic for feel good weather. The kind that makes everybody run to a car wash so they can roll down their windows and feel breezy rays of 75 degrees reflect off the driver’s side. It’s the temperature that moves ladies to rummage through closets looking for that cute, clingy sundress to slip on. The same outfit that makes men snap out of tunnel vision when the wind blows ripples through its flowery skirt. But May flowers are preceded by April showers. And with spring rain comes drops of saliva dripping from male lips left open every time exposed female skin walks by. This is the part of spring I hate – the visual molestation side of the season. The moments of harassment that come because a lady wants to look pretty.

I had to have a conversation about it with my 5 year-old stepson Kalel. The talk wasn’t planned and came on a typical day. I was rushing to drop him off at Grandma’s house, so I can make it to rehearsal. But there was a road block. Two fools, in a freshly washed Chevy Impala, were sitting in the middle of the street ogling a gorgeous girl. Their tongues were tied in awe, hollering gibberish out the window. “What? I can’t hear you,” she yelled, twirling around slowly before leaning forward and answering the catcall. “Oh,” she said with a smile. “Thank you.”

The light was green. I was running late. And the horn was my weapon. “Go!” I rolled down the window all the way so they could hear me. “Ok, I’ma pull over,” the guy in the driver’s seat said. But he wasn’t talking to me. “For real. I’ma really pull over right now,” he said, driving at a slow pace staring at the chick that stood with hand on hip like she was posing for fashion critics. I blew the horn again. “Come on!” My head was out the window this time. “Pull over!” I sucked my teeth, exhaled, and said, “Kalel, don’t you ever do that!” He dropped his toy dragon to the seat and furrowed his tiny brow. “Do what, Qiya? I didn’t do anything.” I turned around to see his face covered in innocence and confusion. Steams of frustration flowed away. “You’re right, babe, you didn’t do anything.” I turned around and held on to the steering wheel. “But when you grow up and drive your own car, don’t ever yell out the window to anybody. That’s rude. If you wanna talk to them, stop the car and get out. Ok?” He picked the dragon up and went back to playing. “Ok, Qiya.”

Of course Kalel didn’t do a thing. But if he grows up to mimic the idiots in that Impala, it would be partly my fault. Ladies have a responsibility to bring chivalry back to life. No, we can’t show a boy how to be a man. There’s no way a real woman can ever fully know what it means to have a X and Y chromosome. But we can definitely help train the babies to become the kind of guy we wish all men would be. And this can come by making an effort to teach a boy how to be a gentleman.

My son is blessed to have his father be an active part of his life. But for 65% percent of African American kids, a household without daddy is the norm. That means mommy has to take over the ranks in teaching boy meets girl etiquette. And if pops happens to be a part of the family portrait, then mothers should diversify the ranks and become second in gentleman command. We can teach our boys simple things that speak volumes to home training, like opening the door for women and allowing ladies to walk through first. Or helpful actions such as carrying groceries and making an effort to take the bags out of mom’s hands and off grandma’s shoulders. These may be minor things, but they make the tiny sparks needed to help reignite chivalry’s rise. It may be dead in the present. But the seeds of today point to the possibility of gentlemen’s rebirth in the future.