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‘My Mother Knew I Had to Get Out of the Ghetto’

Oscar-award winning producer and director Lee Daniels is all too-familiar with the struggles of growing up in a single-parent home with multiple siblings, and he recently credited his hard-working mother for shaping him into the man he has become in spite of their tough times as a family.

Lee took to the stage as an honoree at the TIME 100 gala last month with these words of thanks, praise and admiration for his mother Ciara:

I stand before you a very humble man — a very nervous man. I’ve been to many award shows, but this place is on another level.

I think about my kid, my son. I have twins that I didn’t want to have the life that I had. I didn’t have a great life growing up. I had my mom, who’s here tonight. But it wasn’t a great life.

And so I wanted my kids to have the life that I didn’t have, as all parents do. I wonder now… My son says I don’t have enough time for him.

My mom had five kids. And she came home after working three jobs, and I’d rub her feet. We’d all rub her feet. We were lucky to get any time with her.

My mom knew early on that I was gay, and she knew that I had to get out of the ghetto. And so she hit up my next door neighbor, who was a butler — hence The Butler. And he was the butler for Ed Snyder, who was the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles.

I drove out every day to a world of white people. And that world opened my life into a magical place that I don’t think I would’ve known.

Most of my friends are dead. I watched friends die in my arms at 5, 6, 8. When I grew up the rest of my friends died of AIDS. That I don’t have HIV is a miracle from God.

So this evening is for my mom, because she knew I was destined for something — what that something is, I don’t know. But I love her from the bottom of my heart, and I honor her tonight, because this is really for her.

Clara — Mom — stand up.

Image Credit: TIME

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  • blogdiz

    There is something seriously off with this dude even when he is trying to compliment his mother there is a back handed dig at her and the black community

    Does he know that the “magical white world ” also includes meth addicts/ trailer park and the places like that Appalachian mountains with abject poverty family violence(including incest ) and homophobia

    Just All kinna wrong !

    • Mary Burrell

      @blogdiz: You said what i was thinking but i couldn’t articulate.

  • Mary Burrell

    Unfortunately some black people perceive that the white man’s ice is colder.

  • Mary Burrell

    It’s good to honor you mother.

    • Batgirl19XX

      When it is deserved.

  • vintage3000

    This is the same dude who claimed white people were oppressed with ‘reverse discrimination’ regarding Monique’s refusal to hucklebuck and grin during awards season. He also stated in a NYT article (when Precious was first released) that he admitted to having a color complex re: dark and light skin, and he was trying to resolve that issue.

  • Kels99

    His color and racial issues aside, I don’t see anything wrong with what he said. We all know that because of economics and street violence, most all-Black neighborhoods in this country are not places one can thrive. We have so few middle and upper middle class all Black communities in this country, you can count them on one hand at this point.