James Brown’s daughter, Yamma Brown, opens up about witnessing her father physically abuse her mother throughout her childhood.
Yamma, the youngest daughter from Brown’s marriage to his second wife Deirdre Jenkins, published a memoir called Cold Sweat: My Father James Brown and Me. She revealed that she watched her father, James, beat her mother almost every day. This led her to accept an abusive relationship as the norm. This is completely opposite of the way the recent biopic depicts the Godfather of Soul in Get On Up.
Yamma writes very disturbing details of what she says really happened in the household: “I recall the whole house shaking with my father’s crazy rage when he would lose his temper. Whenever he’d start, my sister Deanna and I would run for cover, usually in a closet or under our beds, and cry quietly into our cupped hands. My mother was dressed in her blue and white robe. Her legs were splayed wide open and my father was straddling her, pummeling her with clenched fists. Doosh. Thud. Doosh. Thud. Blood spurted from my mother’s face. She started thrashing around, kicking her legs, holding up her arms to ward off the punches and trying to break free, trying to save herself.” Deirdre left James because she feared he might kill her one day.
Yamma writes that although James did not abuse her and her siblings, watching the abuse effected the way she viewed men and love. She writes: “I’d been programmed to accept abuse as part of life… witnessing my father beating on my mother would have a profound effect on me.” She had an abusive relationship with her husband of 10 years. Day after day she endured horrific beatings until one day she finally decided she had to leave, or he would probably kill her.
“It wasn’t until a decade later, when I was lying on that cold tile floor, with my head pounding and my vision blurred from being punched in the face, that I finally saw my marriage with absolute clarity, and I knew it was over. I’m not sure what was different about that time. Maybe Darren had finally beaten the pretense out of me, but suddenly after ten years of false hope and make-believe, there was nothing left but the bare and brutal truth.”
Cold Sweat: My Father James Brown and Me is available now on Amazon.