I did not ask to be or not to be
a man lies with a woman.
Unfathered before I was born
like a slave who does not own a father's name.
Recently, I was scheduled to update the Jackson County Legislature regarding our fathering program through the county prosecutor's office. In the program, first-time offenders can defer prosecution by attending life-skills classes, and I teach the one on fathering. The legislature was evaluating the program, and wanted my brief presentation to include a few words from one of the program's participants.
You make me so #*@$! sick. Some nights I be wanting to kill you with my bear hands. The evil things you done to me makes me want to kill you even more. I blame you for the #*@$! up thoughts I have. Sure enough my life is better then what you said it was going to be. The way you treated me makes me sick. I should've been worser, but I have a stronger mind than what you thought. All you done was made your son more stronger and wittier. Love from your son, you #*@$!.
The role of the father or father figure is critically important to the task of taking our African American boys from boyhood into manhood. The vacuum of this required fathering role has had a devastating impact on our urban communities and it is time that we fill this role.
The Gate Keeper
"I'm tired of the way you treat me-like a criminal!" he shouted into the receiver, "you're tired?" I shouted back. "I'm tired of your bull…you expect me to trust you?" "It ain't a question of you trustin me—why should I trust you?!" he angrily replied. That did it! He wasn't getting it, he wasn't going to get it- "forget it!
There are many perspectives on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Perspectives about which we continue to explore, write and speak. Pastor of the people, Philosopher of non-violence, Ph.D. in theology, Peacemaker of Nobel Prize quality, Protester of racial injustice, Councilor to Presidents and a Promoter of economic equality; responsibilities he shared not only for people of color, but for people of all color.
The African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child" reflects the truth that many lives shape and mold the life of a child. But no stronger impact is made on any child greater or more permanent than the impact of that child's father and mother, regardless of whether that influence is good or bad or whether that parent is present or absent in the home.
When in your life have you been the most thirsty? I think of playing full-court five-on-five basketball in 103-degree heat. The sun radiates off the concrete, and I feel it through the soles of my shoes. The competition is scorching, and during the next fast break, I run my tongue across my lips for a trace of moisture, but there's nothing there. My whole mouth feels dry and rough. I stop and scream, "Time Out!" and make a bee-line to my water bottle. At that moment, nothing matters more than quenching my thirst.
The church has been a dynamic support to the African American community, but I believe it can do better. With churches on seemingly every corner in some communities, they have been successful at delivering services and support to African American women and children. But they have fallen short-far short-in reaching out to and engaging African American men. And without these men, they are missing a key contributor to the overall health of the African American family and community.