For her Mother’s Day humpday guest blog, Gina B. has chosen to do a Q&A with her good friend Chuck D. of the famed Public Enemy. Gina chose Chuck because she appreciates the respect and admiration in his voice when he speaks of his mom, Judy Ridenhour.
What was the best lesson your mom ever taught you?
The best lesson? Don’t get stuck. She made sure that I understood that I shouldn’t get stuck doing anything that I didn’t want to do. She encouraged me to make up my mind, and to be very confident about my decisions once my mind was made up.
Did you always have a good relationship with your mother?
Yes, but what was key to my relationship with my mother is that I always understood my role – she was the parent and I was the child. My mom is very forward, she’s bubbly, and then she can turn very serious in a snap. My mom can’t be tricked. Growing up, we couldn’t try to pull one over on her. She’s always been very sharp, and what she said or what she decided would always be honored.
So, you didn’t have the typical teenage conflicts with your mom?
We didn’t have conflict because I had a two parent household – I couldn’t get over on either one of them. There was a united front between them. If my mother said something I couldn’t find a way to override it. And if I tried, I was getting an ass-whooping. My mother was not sparing the rod. Fuck that. You cross my mom, you were upstairs running for the covers. She would tear us up. She wasn’t abusive, but seriously? She was not to be crossed. Now, she wasn’t just spanking us all of the time or even most of the time, but I got spanked for two reasons — either I was doing some shit I wasn’t supposed to be doing, or not doing some shit I was supposed to be doing. I don’t understand parents who think there’s such thing as a negotiation with their children. What negotiation?
And what do you think about people who think spanking is abusive?
Well . . . there are some dumbass parents out here right now. An ass-whooping from someone who isn’t really smart negates the experience. Of course nobody wants to think their parents are stupid, but when you know your parents are smart, you know there’s purpose behind the spanking. By smart, I don’t mean book-smart or having a high IQ score. I mean well-rounded people. As for the dumb parents – all they’re doing is basically bringing a child into the world and demanding respect because they were able to procreate.
I appreciated the fact that my mom would whoop my ass. After it was all said and done, I got it. We stepped in line because we didn’t want to get doubled up later on, because my Dad would follow it up – although he rarely had to. We didn’t know what he would do, but we didn’t want to find out.
Sounds like you got a lot of your personality from your mother.
She is responsible for everything – my intellectual foundation, my strength and my boldness. She was heavy in the arts and theater, so as a young boy, I sometimes had to be a stage manager or perform in a play. She is completely responsible for my cultural and political understanding of everything.
Was she supportive of your musical career?
When I decided to get into music, I did it after I had done everything I was supposed to do – I had finished high school and college, and there wasn’t anything she could say. She just told me to make my own decisions and be a free thinker.
And how did she shape your relationships with women?
I learned from my mother and my sister how to respect women. I don’t know why people think it’s a man’s world. People will say dumb shit, like “What a man says goes.” But it’s more about what the woman says, so the saying should really be: “If it’s not what the woman says . . . go!” And a woman won’t throw you out immediately. She’ll deal with you for a minute, but only until she finds someone who complies to her needs.
How will you celebrate Mother’s Day this year?
This year, Mother’s Day is 8-fold for me. My wife is having a child and it will be our first daughter together, and she will be born around Mother’s Day. I also believe that Mother’s Day should be celebrated on more than just one day. I celebrate the second Mother’s Day on my birthday because I didn’t do any work; I was just born that day. A birthday is celebrating your first day of living. It all begins with your mother.