I have little use for alice walker. Neither does my friend Barbara Kay.
This great champion of Palestinian children, it seems, had no great love for her own child. Rebecca writes: “I came very low down in her priorities — after work, political integrity, self-fulfillment, friendships, spiritual life, fame and travel.” In fact Alice saw very little of Rebecca, leaving her with relatives for months on end while she globe-trotted and hobnobbed with others in her self-righteous cohort.
When Rebecca was 14, she had an abortion, apparently with her mother’s approval. (By Rebecca’s account, she had also approved of Rebecca having sex at 13 as “empowering.”) The abortion haunted Rebecca: “For feminists to say that abortion carries no consequences is simply wrong.” At 16, she found a poem her mother had written, comparing Rebecca’s birth to “various calamities” like early death and mental illness. When an adult Rebecca fell in love and became pregnant, Alice wrote Rebecca a letter essentially divorcing her daughter, informing her Rebecca had not been consequential in her (Alice’s) life, signing the letter with her name, not “Mom.” She cut Rebecca out of her will for insisting on having the baby.
It’s worth repeating Alice Walker’s words: “One child must not be set before another.” She should have added, “when it serves my ego needs and political ends.” It would seem that as soon as loving a child involves actual unheralded tasks, why bother?