There was a time in history when it was illegal for black people to be educated.
There was a time in history when black people could not vote or hold a political office.
Both actions were punishable by death.
But, history tells us that if you tell black people that they cannot do something, they will show you how it is done.
And that is why 2020 is such an important year for my family and me — I did both.
I have been asked why I would want to run for political office or why I would want to hold a doctoral degree. I have always been hesitant to answer the question; I didn’t think people would understand.
The reason is: I know exactly what my purpose is in life. Many people have no idea why they are on this earth, but I do. My purpose in life is to lead. How did I know this?
My ancestors told me.
I was recently shown that I am a vital part of American history. My people were from Africa; brought here for slavery in Auburn, Alabama; persevered and sought opportunity through the great migration; marched through Jim Crow; and fought for this country in the United States military. I am a product of their perseverance, diligence, sacrifice, and hard work. My ancestors told me that I am needed and that I should prepare. I was told that I would have to sacrifice personal pursuits for the greater good.
So that is what I did.
While some were on vacation, I was locked in a room typing away. While some were watching their child’s events, I was seated next to them, feverishly typing on my laptop. While some spent their weekend at their lake cabin, napping and tubing, I sat in a classroom from 10 am to 6pm, learning, debating, and sharing. I am not saying I am better than, I am saying I had my orders — this was the sacrifice I was told about; this was part of the grand plan. All the while, my wife was tirelessly and selflessly holding the fort down in my absence.
Now, I am not trying to be “the next great” anything. I only needed to lead by example. The objective is simple, beat the odds and achieve at the highest levels without excuse.
So the doctoral degree? Not for me.
The City Council Seat? Also, not for me.
These achievements are for those who look like me; those who have the same backgrounds as me; those who came before me; and hopefully, those who come by way of me. I am a vehicle for others to achieve success. If 3 to 4 people of color see me and feel that they can achieve anything, I have done my job.
So what is next? Unfortunately, my mission is not completed — no, it has just begun. And I am not sure it will ever be until I am in the ground. I still have responsibilities. It is part of being young, gifted, and black.
For the first year or so of My Daughter’s life, we had her convinced that rice cakes were cookies. Thanks to Our Daycare Provider and her grandmother (both of whom can bake way too well), we had no such luck with #2. But Oedipus –now he is convinced.
Look at him, he thinks he is getting away with murder.
I have been nominated for The Sunshine Blogger Award by The Modern Dad. What is that exactly, I am not sure, but, because of its creativity, I think it would be cool to pass this story (created by The Modern Dad) along.
However, none were as bad as AOL. In that walled garden, creepy dudes asked A/S/L, bored teens waited for topless photos of Claudia Schiffer to download over 28.8 kbps modems, and Dragon’s Gate burned millions of minutes of metered access. The only light residents could see was reflected from the surface the billions AOL Free Trial CDs they were forced to mine.
To break through those walls, to see the blessed light of the Digital Economy and Dow 36,000, they created a way to recognize greatness. The name of the original recipients have been lost to history, but their selfless sacrifice to the god of Web Twopoint-Oh allows us to see the promised land and shatter the stranglehold of the Peacock and the All-Seeing-Eye on our brains.”
Part of my responsibilty to to answer 11 questions that The Modern Dad posed. Giddy up!
1. What have your kids done to embarrass you this week?
My first born was good at soccer when she was 6. By good, I mean that she would kick the ball away from the scrum and outrun everybody to the goal (no skills). One day, one the way to a game, she said, “Dad, I think I am going to score 6 goals today.”
I must have forgotten to teach her about sportsmanship because she scores the sixth goal, turns around, and in front of dozens of parents holds up the number six as if she is the best thing since sliced bread. Here’s proof:
2. Did you embarrass them back? If not, why?
I live to embarrass my kids, so yes, but not to the degree that I want – yet.
3. Who’s the reason you got a call from school about something your kid said: You or your partner?
My life is an open book (insert Instagram plug here: UffdaBlack), so most people who follow me know that the phone calls that come home are usually because of something I did or said in the past.
My second born is a very old soul. She is 7 and is really personable. So personable that she often gets to hang out with women who are 30+ years old.
“Oh she is such a delight to have around!”
Meanwhile, she’s telling them all kinds of stories. Even in school.
4. What about parenting is still a problem for you? Having kids is not an acceptable answer.
My major problem is with them growing up so fast. I am the dad that has a picture of everyone, every event, and everytime. So much so that I have to pay for a Dropbox. Yes, I do enjoy life in reality, but I think it would be so cool for my kids to look back and know that their parents were there.
The negative to that is, when you look back 5 to 10 years ago, you soon learn that everybody was right and your kids grow fast. My babies are not babies anymore and that is extremely hard to accept.
Well, that, and the fact that every time I say to one of them, “You’re not doing it right, hold my beer!” I end up in surgery.
5. What advice did your own father or father-figure give that was useful?
I was not only fortunate enough to have my own father in my life, but I had many other male figures (coaches, friends’ dads) who were instrumental to who I am today. I think I was on the tail-end of the “I don’t care if you are not my kid, you do what I say and stay out of trouble” “takes a village” era.
One piece of advice came from my high school basketball coach. He was a very caring man who could be a straight-up asshole on the court. If you were doing something wrong, expect to hear about it (along with everyone else in the gymnasium). He would say, “I am hard on you guys because I love you. Sometimes, the truth is just hard to hear; and sometimes it hurts. But I will always tell you the truth and anyone who would do that truly cares for you”
I don’t know why that resonated with me, but it is something that I try to do in my everyday life, especially when parenting.
Yup, I am an asshole parent.
6. What was completely useless?
I have no clue what information was/is useless. I think I will leave this question unanswered until 2035, when my last child is out of my house and attending college.
7. What personality trait of yours do you not look forward to seeing in your kids?
My attitude. Most people will tell you that I can get animated, but, for the most part, I am an even keeled guy. That took years for me to master. I have a bit of a temper. When angry, it becomes Hulk-like. I have seen it pop up in my children. Couple that with the adolescent mind and whoa! Look out!
8. What craft/artwork have your kids done that you were impressed by? Anything that made you suggest engineering?
I once watched my oldest some build a whole village out of a Melissa & Doug train set. It was back when he was totally infatuated with Thomas & Friends. I bought him a whole set (maybe two) for him (really me). I thought it was going to be like pulling teeth. Nope. He was totally into it. Next thing I know, darn-near recreated the island of Sodor.
9. What was the last toy you stepped on, and where did you bury it?
That is a tough one. It has to be this bear (pictured). It is not like it hurts or anything. I just seem to always step on it after my son goes to bed. Worse yet, it is always on! I wish that I could bury it, but I cannot because it was a favorite with all of my children and they will know if it turns up missing.
10. What was the most recent request from your partner or kids that you agreed to then immediately regretted?
I feel as though my wife is way better suited to answer that questions for herself.
Two years ago, I needed to have the front landscaping done – and we are talking about a complete overhaul. I wanted to price it out and get it over with as I was in the middle of taking my comprehensive exams. My ever so cheap wife saw the estimate and started rubbing on my bicep…
“I am sure a big man such as yourself can take care of a job like this for way cheaper – can’t you?”
Next thing I know, I am the middle of my landscaping with a scoop shovel, steel-toe boots and sweats on in 95+ degree heat (yes, sweats. I hate being bit by mosquitos and any repellant I applied would soon be sweated off).
11. Why did you agree to answer any of these questions?
It made me feel like I was an interesting person. The question is, why did you actually read my answers?