From Black Voices — It’s hard following the footsteps of your mother, especially if that woman is Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker.
For 40 year-old author, Rebecca Walker, having a famous mother has been anything but easy and she’s opening up about just how her difficult life was.
“I very nearly missed out on becoming a mother – thanks to being brought up by a rabid feminist who thought motherhood was about the worst thing that could happen to a woman,” she revealed to British newspaper Daily Mail.
“My mom taught me that children enslave women,” she continued. “I grew up believing that children are millstones around your neck, and the idea that motherhood can make you blissfully happy is a complete fairytale.”
These days, the Yale graduate (born Rebecca Leventhal) is the proud mother of a three and a half year-old son named Tenzin with her partner, Glen. Yet, she holds “The Color Purple” novelist responsible for much of her hardships growing up and is working hard at being a totally different type of mother.
“Ironically, my mother regards herself as a hugely maternal woman. Believing that women are suppressed, she has campaigned for their rights around the world,” she noted.
“But, while she has taken care of daughters all over the world and is hugely revered for her public work and service, my childhood tells a very different story. I came very low down in her priorities – after work, political integrity, self-fulfillment, friendships, spiritual life, fame and travel.”
Following in her mother’s footsteps, the biracial Mississippi native devoted a great deal of her life dedicated to upholding feminist principles.
She co-founded a non-profit to encourage activism in young women called Third Wave Foundation and was recognized for her work signing up tens of thousands of young female voters by The National Association of University Women, the National Organization for Women and the League of Women Voters, respectively.
After that, she was a contributing editor to several notable publications including Essence, Ms., Glamour, Interview, Vibe and Mademoiselle to name a few. Time magazine even chose her as one of its 50 Future Leaders of America.
For her mother, aside from writing the seminal novel which spawned a classic film and hit Broadways musical of the same name, the Georgia native has published poetry, novels and non-fiction works, in addition to being honored with The Radcliffe Institute Fellowship, the Merrill Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Their personal lives mirror each other too; For years Rebecca dated alternative-rock-soul singer Meshell Ndegeocello, while her 66 year-old mother was rumored to be romantically involved wtih singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman.
Still, the daughter believes her mother was selfish taking off in her teenager years for a two month jaunt to Greece and leaving her with relatives and earlier in her childhood forbidding her from playing with dolls.
“A good mother is attentive, sets boundaries and makes the world safe for her child. But my mother did none of those things.”
“I was 16 when I found a now-famous poem she wrote comparing me to various calamities that struck and impeded the lives of other women writers,” Walker noted.
According to Rebecca, Alice spoke of how “Virginia Woolf was mentally ill and the Brontes died prematurely,” then calling her a “delightful distraction, but a calamity nevertheless.” It was something that she said was “a huge shock and very upsetting.”