Yes Mam/Sir originated during slavery in the South. It traveled from the front of the plantations, deep within the cotton fields. It came through the Underground Railroads. It went to the back of corner stores and town restaurants. It would not give up its seat on the front of the bus. Yes Mam/Sir has traveled far, but it has not lost its true meaning. I believe that Yes Mam/Sir is an offering of honor to who receives it and humility to who gives it.
Growing up my Dad had many rules. Some of them would change from day to day, situation to situation, or from child to child. One rule that never wavered was the rule of saying yes Mam/Sir to your elderly or anyone of authority. This was out of respect for who they were, what they had accomplished or simply their age. Yes Mam/ Sir was imbedded deep within my dad’s morals, it now resides in mine.
I had a child at the gentle age of nineteen. I was now responsible for instilling morals into someone else, and felt this required my undivided attention. From the time he could talk I taught him the importance of Yes Mam/Sir. I judged how his friends were raised by their ability to offer it, and would look deep into the lives of those that did not. To my pleasing his inner circle all came from good up bringings and was taught the importance of yes Mam/Sir. I found great joy in hearing them say it, until they started saying it to me. I did not feel worthy of the honor that came from yes Mam/Sir.
I had no problem offering the honor of yes Mam/Sir to someone else and receiving the humility for myself; but I did not feel worthy of receiving the honor and allowing the other person to receive the humility. I was not anybody. I had not been through or accomplished anything. I was in no way deserving of this honor. I received humility every time someone offered me the honor that came from yes Mam/Sir.
I am now a thirty-nine year old college freshman. I sit next to students my son’s exact age, who sometimes say yes mam to me. I have defeated bullying and peer pressure. I have overturned the stigma associated with teen pregnancy. I won the battle with domestic violence. I knocked out being a single parent in the projects. I gave depression a one way ticket home. I withstand the joys and jolts of being a wife, mother and student. I still believe that yes Mam/Sir is an offering of honor to who receives it and humility to who gives it. I am finally accepting of that honor.
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