Fictive Kinship

Fictive Kinship: The bonding of people who demonstrate concern, affection and responsibility for one another; although they are not related biologically or through marriage.

Never would I claim to know “everything”; however, I do believe it is my responsibility to nurture and educate by sharing what I do know. Life’s experiences are necessary so that we may grasp knowledge to teach others along the way. It’s been said, “it takes a village to raise a child” or that “two heads are better than one”. Perhaps it took me a little longer than most to fully comprehend the message.

A Neighborhood Away from Reality, but so Close to Heart and Home

Drastic change occurred in my life when I moved into a new community far removed from my reality. After being laid off from a position I held for more than a decade, with a steady income that had been more than enough for my children and I to live comfortably, our lives were definitively altered. I could no longer afford to live in what was considered to be a moderately classed neighborhood. We were forced to move into a low-income housing complex that was very different than what we were accustomed to. My days were marked by sitting at my kitchen table staring out the window as I wrote in my journal. As a mother, I was concerned about what I witnessed and was overcome with a range of emotions from sadness to anger and confusion. Young men standing around with their pants sagging, smoking marijuana and wasting precious time was a constant and pervasive event. Overwhelmed with tears yet knowing the Lord was present I asked, “why did you do this to us?” Day in and day out like clockwork, it was the same pattern from usually the same group of young men. Every now and then a new one would come along and join the pack.

For nearly the first year of living there I rarely spoke to anyone, choosing to remain unconscious to the issues surrounding my family and I on a daily basis. Like most, I’d convinced myself that it wasn’t my problem. I witnessed young children no more than three to five years of age playing outside with no parent in sight. Often, I’d watch for hours waiting to see if someone, anyone, perhaps mom or dad or maybe a sitter would come looking for them, which almost never happened. Usually it would be a sibling, not much older, who came to the rescue of the unattended child. After a year of unsuccessfully searching for adequate employment and watching a landscape of deprivation, frustrated by the scenery growing more depressing, I decided to attend the college across the street from the complex.

Maternal Mentality

It wasn’t until I became part of the Umoja Saku Learning Community at the college that I began to think differently regarding my surroundings at home. To be an Umoja student was not simply about learning typical subjects like math or science. It was about learning from a holistic perspective of life focusing on culture. All my professors were of color and the materials utilized were based on lived or professional experiences and scholars of color. One of the main concepts I learned that has stayed with me is how much more can be accomplished by simply working together. The most valuable lesson for me was as an African American woman, I cannot continue to ignore the events taking place around me. As a mother who wants change, I am not only responsible for the children “I” gave birth to, also for my community as a whole. Everyone has a story that needs to be shared. We all need to be encouraged and uplifted. My Umoja family did that for me, how dare I do not do the same for another. Everyone, regardless of color wants to be loved or know that someone cares and that they matter. The Umoja experience motivated me to re-evaluate my maternal mentality. After all, I am a mother raising a teenage son in this environment trying to do my best in keeping him on the right path. If I reach out to some of those neighbors and young men by offering what I can where I see there is a need, perhaps we can work together by looking out for one another making this an enjoyable place to live.

Before this time, I’d never viewed myself as a role model because I’ve made plenty of mistakes and still do. However, after deciding to face my fears and frustrations head on, it wasn’t long before I was being recognized as a positive influence, but also very well respected. By simply having a conversation with some of these young men, learning their stories, finding out about their talents, none of us were much different than the other. Sometimes all it takes is to offer a homecooked meal when it’s evident that someone may be hungry. Perhaps that young man doesn’t have a job because no one ever took the time to not only show him how to create a resume, but never encouraged or believed in him enough to motivate him. Perhaps that young mother has her child running around with a soiled diaper because she’s been depressed, has no one to turn to and may need someone to simply “listen”. (There was a point when I took it upon myself to change a few of those diapers or convince mom it was time for potty training). I have to say it’s an amazing feeling to come from being angry and fearful to suddenly being referred to as “Ms. Tammy” or “Momma Tammy” and knowing that my efforts are recognized as well as appreciated. Somehow at some point I began to feel that as a black woman it is my duty to take advantage of opportunities to motivate and encourage our sista’s & brotha’s . Often all it takes is a compliment, letting someone know they have a beautiful smile. Maybe say a prayer with someone when they’re willing. That one caring gesture can be the difference between providing hope and preventing a tragedy from occurring.

Note: This was originally titled Black Fictive Kinship and was published with other works of mine in Our Black Mother’s: Brave, Bold & Beautiful 2015. I revised it today and made a few suitable changes. I first moved to the Vista’s as they were formally known in 2009. While I wouldn’t dare take credit for anyone’s accomplishments, I think it’s important to note that now nearly thirteen years later, many of those residents I came to know have since shown tremendous growth. I will own though that it feels great when I’m told that I’ve inspired someone and while I am humble, with my past of fear, fighting and not trusting, those same residents taught and helped me as much as they say I’ve helped them. Some I crossed paths with again during my homelessness and they love they showed got me through. Others have looked out for my son and g-son when I couldn’t. I’m sure many of you have already learned this, I’m sharing because of what I learned. This is how I know that God is always working, why we have to be kind to one another. Give unselfishly when we can because it does come back to us in various forms when least expected. Somehow along the way, the ties of unity began to unravel. It is of the utmost importance that we make an effort to strengthen that bond, even if it means doing so one sista or brotha at a time. Blessings to everyone and a Happy New Year!

Published by 5thgenerationgirl

Tammy Wynette is a mother of three and a โ€œG-MAโ€ (grandma). Born in Warren, Arkansas, she currently resides in Sacramento, CA and is pursuing an AA degree in English at American River College, with plans to transfer to California State University, Sacramento (Sac State). She is an active leader and role model in her community, she works with teens sharing and teaching poetry, as well as providing insight for young parents to prosper. She has certificate from NAMI (The National Alliance on Mental Illness) and is a trailblazer & Griot, keeper of stories/traditions passed down from her ancestors. As an Author and motivational speaker itโ€™d be an honor to present at your events to inspire, encourage & let our VOICES be heard! She has short stories and poems published in Our Black Mothers Brave, Bold and Beautiful!

83 thoughts on “Fictive Kinship

  1. Tammy, this is an emotionally charged, inspiring, and empowering message to read this morning. I simply don’t know where to start, but the collective in all of your experiences is definitely “role model” material. ๐Ÿค— You put up, you didn’t shut up. I am so proud of you girlfriend, and just the impact you are making on your community, your family, and others are so important to our future, our survival, and our personal and spiritual growth. Continue using what God has truly blessed you with. You have no idea how much your message is a pillar of strength for so many who may not even realize they need it!

    Have a spectacular day Queen! Hugs and smooches! ๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ˜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know I appreciate your encouragement. Actually it was you who reminded me about this piece during our last conversation. It makes me thankful that I can recognize the lessons through the hardships. You have a fabulous day as well Sisโฃ๏ธ

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my sweet Tammy, it is indeed my pleasure. You stay the course girlfriend. Itโ€™s in the valleys that we grow and daaaawwwwwlinkโ€ฆyou are growing!!! We may not see it then, but those valley experiences can be oh so rewarding! Hugs and smooches! ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ˜˜โ˜บ

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Awwwwwโ€ฆ๐Ÿ˜ญ You are the sweetest my queen. ๐Ÿ‘‘ Be sure to tell your lovely daughter hello in return. I am so glad you two had such a wonderful day together. ๐Ÿค— I love your mother/daughter bond, and how freely you two share your love. Thanks so much for thinking of me on your relaxing Sunday my dear! I will be checking in with you this week!

        As always sending you LOVEโ€ฆ.PEACEโ€ฆand SOOOOUUUUULLLLLL!!! ๐Ÿ˜œ๐ŸŽถ๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿฝ

        Liked by 1 person

      3. She asked about you & the conversation took off. We don’t get to see each other much due to being so busy & her son becoming a teen. She knows how much you inspire me & honestly I believe since meeting you it has taken pressure off her of not feeling guilty for having her own life. I keep telling them to stop worrying about me. Enjoy your evening Queen!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Listen sistaโ€™, you are about to take off on something exhilarating and rewarding. ๐Ÿฑโ€๐Ÿ Itโ€™s time to push your โ€œperseveranceโ€ button and get ready to move. You have a lot of connections and you have put a lot of things into place already. Time to activate them. To the Batmobile Robin! LOL ๐Ÿ˜œ Your kids and grands wonโ€™t have to worry about you, they are gonna have to worry about how to keep up with you! Okyaaayyyyy??? ๐Ÿ’ฏ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐ŸŽฏ

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Girl, like McFadden and Whitehead sang, “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now…we’re on the move!!! Go ahead and fill up your tank!!! You are gonna cover a lot of miles this year QT!!! ๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ‘ธ๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ

        Liked by 1 person

      6. You scaring me because I’ve been feeling it while being sure to stay humble, but most days I feel like I have no clue which direction to go. I’m going to extend an invitation for lunch to my former professor I told you about who become more like a father. Just waiting for him to return from Egypt.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Just let that tune stick in your head and roll with it. ๐ŸŽถ Be bold. You already talked to your former professor before he left. Great resource. Donโ€™t be shy about it either. Those shy days are in the past!

        Donโ€™t worry about clueless my dear. Think of it as jumping in your car and driving down the highway, not knowing that there may be a detour or traffic jam ahead. You just take a deep breath and make adjustments as you go. There is no fool-proof roadmap for any of us. Look, I get frustrated a LOT!!! But, I go to my โ€œtime outโ€ corner for a bit and just chill. Then, I come out like a savage beast! Listen, something will break and then you can be on your way again! You got this. Just remember that QT! YOU โ€“ GOT โ€“ THIS!!! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ’ฏโ˜บ

        Liked by 1 person

      8. LMBO, guuurrrrlllll, yes maโ€™am. I hated when they ended that show! But you know I swooned over him when he used to be on The Young & The Restless! Yummyโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆ๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜ฒ๐Ÿ˜

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      9. Guuuurrrrrlllll, yesterday, I had to plug my phone in while I was talking, because my juice was getting low. Just get your phone charged up because you know it’s not going to be a 5-minute conversation! LOL ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜‚

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      10. Girl your forgetfulness is because you got so much stuff and projects simmering on your mind! ๐Ÿคฏ You know I get sidetracked a lot too, but that is just because my mind is working double-time! You and I get so excited and truly, I am glad we met. You don’t always get that same kind of vibe from a lot of people, but when you do, they give you a reason to be excited. Thanks for allowing me to glide into your orbit girlfriend!!! ๐ŸŒŽ๐Ÿช๐ŸŒŒ

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Aww now we were doing good & you done went and made me cry๐Ÿ˜‚. You said it perfectly though because my children can see when I’m excited about a person & vibe w/ them because I don’t allow anyone in often. When I do, it makes them happy & appreciative of that person who happens to be YOU!

        Liked by 1 person

      12. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜ฑ I think it’s time for me to go to bed. I am no good for the rest of the night! Girl, I appreciate you so! Thanks so much for your friendship!!! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿฅฐ

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. It’s unfortunate that you got laid off after 10 years of loyalty and dedication. I’m glad that your move to low income housing led you to such a wonderful school and increased awareness. We never know how we’ve touched someone. It is so easy to fall into depression, to feel alone and abandoned, yet in reaching out to others, we keep our hearts open and growth happens, love happens.
    May this new year bring you much fulfillment!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are a wonderful and admirable woman. I feel lucky just being able to read your experiences. I probably would not have survived them or learned from them as well as you did. They make me want to be a better person. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That is an absolutely great piece of writing that does perfect justice to your powerful experiences and mental fortitude. It deserves to be read by many. I suggest submitting it to newspapers or magazines.
    Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for a very touching read on a gray Sunday afternoon. I always admire and get inspired by your honesty and candor and itโ€™s nice to see how you transformed from apathy to actively helping those in your community. It just takes one spark to start a movement and you did that for your community!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always look forward to hearing from you because your words are so encouraging. Occasionally I still struggle from within , but the support from you & a few others is what helps me to continue in my growth.
      Sending hugs all the way from Cali ๐Ÿ˜

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You say you made many mistakes; well you’re human and that’s something we all do on a fairly regular basis. Doing what you did, engaging young men in conversation, looking after a young child, etc. โ€“ those weren’t mistakes. Not reaching out would have been a mistake. Your actions took guts. It’s not always easy lending a helping hand; you never know how the other person is going to react. Pride is a double edged sword. Good on you, Miss Tammy, for caring and having the courage to act on it. Blessings to you and your family. May God see fit to be with you as we enter a new year. He’s very busy and needs as many of us as possible to be helping hands. “Be not afraid; I go before you always. Come, follow me, and I will give you rest.” ๐Ÿค

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  7. That’s touching and inspiring as well! Change is hard to accept when it takes us away from comfort. But I like that in the end it’s an opportunity to discover an amazing learning community and make positive impacts in the lives of others in your new invironment. It matters a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Aww, my daughter was the 1st to question it when I started, but no one else said anything until recently. fortunately, I’d learned my way around the technology & it was a stress free fit, lol.
        I’ve also been wanting to call you to get more insight on navigatingthechange, but i never know when is good.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. “nearly thirteen years later, many of those residents I came to know have since shown tremendous growth”

    And that’s why you’re here. To guide, inspire and support people while they grow.

    Well done and a happy belated new year to you ๐Ÿ™‚

    -Matt The Happy Human


  9. Dear Tammy, this whole piece moved me, impressed me and I learned a new expression, ” Fictive Kinship” You told your story, your history, so well and because of the Umoja Community, yours and many others had happier endings. This was so inspiring..from staring out a window to actually. You became (in your own way) a maternal activist, going out and engaging, offering to listen, serving a home-cooked meal. I love this post..thank you for sharing:)

    Liked by 1 person

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