The Women that make me are my Cherie Amour’s

The Story of Me

My Great grandmother was a wonderful woman. Though I never knew her, I know more than she could imagine. See, the kind of wisdom she had doesn't stop when you die. It doesn't just end when your life ends. It is eternal. Living within the people she loved, knew, and nurtured. Clara Lee Bryant is so familiar to me, although our paths never crossed. Even though her physical body buried and forgotten about, her presence still sprinkles into conversations or dreams of her offspring. And the words she spoke while she was here are just as mysterious as the way she lived. She had knowing to her that just doesn't exist or isn't valued anymore. Her bloodline is scattered, but secure. It could tell you a lot about the life she lived. She was born in 1909, to the parents of former slaves that were sharecroppers just outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Sugar was their enigma. She bore nine children. Six to her first husband whose name is conveniently left out of family records, and three to her second husband who she left because he was no better than the first, legend has it. So, with being divorced twice and nine mouths to feed my grandmother searched for a new start in a new town far away from the misfortunes that must have haunted her. I can’t image what life must have been like for her. She had four boys and five girls, and in that mix up a set of fraternal twins. Ten hungry mouths and rumbling stomachs, uncertain of what lay ahead of them. Not to mention they were African American in a state that was struggling to cope with the end of slavery; financially, culturally, and personally. She traveled north of the boot shaped state in hopes of getting to Texas. My great grandmother always thought bigger than her circumstance. She believed that Texas was full of opportunity, more than what Louisiana had to offer, and if she wasn't gonna get to Texas, she sure as hell was gonna get as close as she could. Shreveport, Louisiana is where the next part of my genealogy truly begins.

My grandmother, Betty Brown- Stewart, is one of the babies of the family that was one of the three that were born to the second husband. Her placement in the family has a lot to do with who she is as a person. My grandmother is a character, do you hear me? And she is allowed to be because she is everyone’s little sister. Actually they still call her “lilsista” to this day, even in her 70 years of age. I can’t fault my grandmother for being over the top and dramatic, because she paved the way for my bloodline. I too am over the top and dramatic, and I don’t know if its because I am an only child, or the granddaughter of Betty Brown. The women in my family have always outnumbered the men, even as my grandmothers siblings grew up and had children and families of their own, the women have always been the operators that kept everything going. Of course, all of them a constellation around the wisdom and leadership of Clara Lee. My Grandmother went to Grambling State University on a full ride math scholarship. But, while she was there she conceived her first child with her high school sweet heart and the star of the Grambling State Football team. My grandmother bore three children. One to her first love, whom she never got to marry because he died tragically in a car accident before she gave birth, and two to her second love, Leroy Brown, whom she married later in life. My grandmother went on to marry again to her current doting and devote husband, Robert Stewart. History has a funny way of springing up throughout generations like that. My Grandmothers children, Connie, Carla, and Carlton, are all named after my Great Grandmother. With her small new family in need of money and stable paying jobs, they set out for Dallas, Texas, to become “City Folk”.

Carla Bryant is a my mother, and what an amazing woman is she! Her love is endless and light years away from the cruelness of this world. Her sacrifices make me into the woman I am, and continue to mold me into the woman I hope to be. Although my mother is a single mother, she had a village that helped raise me. From my countless Aunts and Uncles ( Who are really cousins but just let that ride because there are ALOT of people in my family and it gets too complicated to call everyone by their proper genealogical names.), to the close family friends who in our hearts are no less than blood. My mother gave birth to me nine months after the death of my great grandmother. And here is where my story begins.

My name is Tatyana Bryant, and I, like so many of the woman in my family have hopes of becoming a woman of dignity, tradition, transparency, versatility, wisdom, and most of all Love. I was born in Dallas, Texas to Carla Bryant in September of 1996. My mother raised me in a suburb just outside of Dallas called Mesquite, Texas. I had a sheltered childhood. I am the “baby” of all of the grandchildren of my grandmother Betty Brown. I am currently in the middle of my story. I still have a lot of ground to cover. The stories for Clara Lee Bryant, and Betty Brown Stewart, and Carla Bryant are all inspirations to me. They are three generations that I know of that have battled the fight of life, and did it unapologetically and in the fullness of their womanhood. My great grandmother didn't learn to write her name until two years before she died, but she was more than “smart” or “literate” she was wise. She spoke her wisdom in riddles that still ring throughout our family tree today. One of my favorite being, “ Honey, you gotta kno’ to prepare for war in a time of peace.” My grandmother is smart and will remind you of it every chance she gets. She loves to repeat a saying her mother told to her, “ Honey I’m too old of cat to be fooled by a kitten.” My mother is witty, reminding me of her sacrifices every chance she gets. She says, “ You almost killed me coming into the world the least you can do is call me.” Nonetheless their stories are flawed, with many twist and turns. But to me, the mistakes they made are not the most interesting parts of their stories. The way they lived in spite of the cards they were dealt is the most important to me. The words I right about them are blimps compared to the actual enormity of the challenges they faced. I am the hope that kills the bitterness of slavery that plagued my Great Great Grandmother. I am the dream that My great grandmother had. The one that was so vast and infinite, that longed for a visit to Rome to see the mountains that God made. I am the sweetness of life that was robbed from my grandmother in her quest for love. I am the risk and the reward my mother took when she gave birth to me. I stand on the shoulders of women who are more than giants. The culture that they created has influences from many things like, The south, Christianity, gender roles, all of these being set in stone, the list can go on. But, the force at the center of all of those traditions, influences and customs, is the will to not let life kill you, or your will to live. That force is powered by the only thing they know how to fight with, Love.