“When you know better do better!”-Maya Angelou
“I’ll shovel shit, I’ll CEO so my kids can bow over the meatloaf!”– Rick Ross
As a husband and a father I understand that I have a commitment and a responsibility to my family. As my mom would say, “by hook or by crook” I have to make it happen for my family. I have to do whatever it takes to make sure my family’s needs are satisfied. Or in the much more popular words of the great Negro philosopher, Rick Ross; “I’ll shovel shit, I’ll CEO, so my kids can bow over the meatloaf!”. No one likes to talk about the pressure of being a dad. I get it, being a male has afforded me all types of privilege. In turn for that privilege there are inherent responsibilities, so deal with it. Nonetheless the pressure is there. In an attempt to illustrate this pressure to my wife I ask her: “If we were both out of a job today, and the family doesn’t know where we are getting our next meal from, who is looking at who?” She, with a look that somehow suggest that this is a dumb question, confidently and comfortably responds with,”we’re all looking at you.” That’s just the way it is. I’m not complaining. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
On the other hand, as a Black man I have a responsibility to my local, national, and social community. I consider myself to be somewhat “Woke”, as we say and blessed to be so. This understanding brings to mind the the Maya Angelou quote; “When you know better, do better.” I do know better, I know things in our society aren’t going to miraculously change. Change comes when the people take action. Most of my adult life and even more so in light of recent social situations, I have felt this need to get out and do something. I feel compelled as a Black man, as a Father, and as someone who knows better to be active, to fight, and push for change. But truth be told… I got to be a work in the morning (as a matter of fact, I’m at work right now). I would love to march, protest, and disrupt this weekend, but the way my life is set up…. I have to be at work on Monday and I really can’t afford to be arrested, I live in Texas, so that is a real possibility. Simply put, I have other responsibilities.
Herein lies my dilemma. How do I be a Father and Husband, and be woke? How do I satisfy my responsibilities to my family and to my community? How do I give the most to my family while trying to be more than a social media activist, a rebel in my thoughts but not in my action? I have been struggling with this for a while. I mean, to avoid feeling like I’m all talk should I not even speak on what’s going on? Because the truth is, at this point in my life with two small children (8 and 2) at home, a wife, and working 60 hours a week between two jobs I really can’t afford to do much else but shoot out a tweet. I try to do a little more such as, record a podcast, or write this post but even that doesn’t feel like its making a real difference.
If you are a parent like me, I know you feel the struggle. I sign the online petitions that come through my email, I tweet using the latest hashtag, and I get out and vote, of course. Truthfully in my heart I know those things won’t get it done. Really? Is petitioning the same people and power structure that created this system asking them to change it really going work? I don’t think so, but it is something, so I do it. In my community when there is a town hall, or some other local attempt at organizing my work finds a way to get in the way. I either have to be at work, or I am away in another city or state traveling for work. The guilt I feel is real. Then I compare that to the guilt I would feel if I weren’t there for my family and I know I’m making the right decision. Then, I ask myself, “what will I tell my kids, and my grand kids when they are older and ask me what did I do when I saw Black Lives Murdered? What did I do when White Supremacy struck back and voted in Darth Vader and the Sith Masters that counsel him?”
So I got Maya Angelou on one shoulder and Rick Ross on the other and I have to find a way to do both, to be better. For now the answer is invest in my kids, teach them what I didn’t learn until I was an adult. Make sure they can have options to do what they want and the freedom to fight when their time comes. Be the best example of a Black Family Man as I can be. What I do know is change starts in the Black home. It comes in building our communities so we can have a home base to launch the rebellion from. Maybe I can’t be on the front lines but hopefully I can raise two warriors for social justice. Hopefully, they can be everything that I wish I could be, but at this point can’t be. I hope those of you who are in my position do the same. Because no matter, how much time we are work, we gotta make time to teach our kids the truth about what’s really going on. Teach them how to plan and make decisions. Hustle and invest so they won’t be tied to jobs as I am, so they can have “Fuck You” money, the way that I don’t. Hopefully that legacy will fuel them to heights I can only tweet about. Who knows, in a few years when they are old enough we can all be out there fighting because if I know one thing, this fight ain’t going anywhere anytime soon.