Monday, June 23, 2008

Father's Day as Men's Day

Father's Day is also Men's Day. A time to reflect on not only one's parental skills, sacrifices and success stories but who we are as Black men, our individual and collective plight, and how we propose to help solve some of the ills in our Community. Whatever your situation, if you've made a baby you have the responsibility to help raise your child. Even if the mother won't let you fully play your role as dad as a result of a nasty separation, you have the responsibility to go to family court and fight for your right to be present in your child's life. No excuses!!! Because in the end it won't be your ex or a judge who calls the shots, but an angry teenager; and if later on you cannot present any proof of making an effort to take and develop your fatherly duties you'll be the one to blame for actually supporting the deadbeat dad hype.

So today, this year, this time around, take a moment to reflect on what kind of dad you've been thus far, if you're pride is motivated by unconditional love, support and guidance. Or if your intention is to simply feed your ego for the sake of image without questioning whether or not your child is presenting him or herself in a manner that enhances us, as a people.

Ask yourself if your definition of 'dad' compliments the Community or adds to the bafoonery we see in our hood. Are you satisfied with what you see? Do you tolerate our boys walking around with their pants down and showing their underwear, to the point where they're now learning to walk like toddlers all over again? Do you notice how so many of our girls have gone from wearing long weaves to now long wigs? Have you reminded them that there was a time when Blacks were forced to 'look White' by wearing wigs? Do you see the emphasis on bling and street culture? Are you teaching your child that street culture is not Black culture? Are you teaching yourself that?

This is what Black fatherhood is all about, to me. Tieing in universal standards of what a great dad is and does with the realities of racism, poverty and victim mindset. In my first book, Before You Fly Off - Vol. One, I list what most dads want from their teenage daughters, in particular, while adding what I want from my daughter, including not supporting Rap artists who disrespect females, being both book-smart and street-smart, dressing in a way that compliments our race, encouraging Black boys to read more, and more reflecting, less re-acting.

This is also a time when I run into fathers who, because of family court struggles and unresolved issues with the mothers, cannot see their sons and daughters and how that pains them. So this one's for y'all....I been there. But there comes a time when you just gotta get out of YOUR way and let the Universe do her thing!!!

These, my dearest
Are the reasons why I want you with me
Green eyed monsters, spiders and snakes
You can give them to me

Smiling faces
With hints of falsity
When they greet you
You can stay close to me

In my aloneness
I pray that God helps you remember your father
That my good intentions matter
Because I care for you
I fight for you

These, my dearest
Are the reasons why I want you with me
No more an angry young man
I don’t fly off without listening

It was all the fighting
Cutting through summer
That gave me the courage to hold you
When you were just an infant

Oh, I had plans for you!
I still hold them true

These, my dearest
Are the reasons why I want you with me
And all those harsh words you were forced to hear?
Tell your mama
I’m setting them free.

Besides George Carlin (R.I.P.), Jason's the only White kat I know who can talk about racism openly and honestly. I think it's extremely important to have at least one White ally or you stay stuck on anger mode. But once you make a real connection with any White person you realize how much bigger the world is. I keep a photo of Jason on my wall so that I don't hate all White people. Just like I remind myself of who mostly attended anti-apartheid rallies, show up at jazz concerts and support grassroots art, to stop myself from generalizing. White folks have the luxury of never having to think about their skin color. They just live their lives. That's the discrepancy.

Thanks to my own dad, I managed to grow up in a home that encouraged getting out of our boxes and learning other people and ways. You don't grow, if you don't. You become stagnant and closed-minded. You start dictating how the world should be according to your very limited eyes. All the good stuff needed to become a proud racist! My father used to say America creates bigots. She can't help it. It's part of the original plan. So he ran off to Canada like a lot of other expatriates did....

They cannot take what you mean to me
And son, they never will
This was written way before I learned to disappoint you
So you could learn to let go what you can't possibly control
But it might help you to know
I’m by your side
Fighting off ill wishes and beautiful lies
A promise I made to myself
The day you cursed me goodbye
But the pain was never yours
And I want to see you smile
The pain was never yours
Catch you every time.*

*From my book, The Dredlocks Tree

Happy Father's Day, dad.
I'm a stubborn mothafucka but
you catch me
every time!
Thank you!!!
I love you.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


My face is tempered fire
It promises victory in emotional desertion

The stained teardrop under my eye
Is a kiss from my childhood nuances
That gave me my second name

My scars are my grays
And my grays are my father
A discovery I made during one of the first receding tides

My nose tells the story of sugar cane fields
I was not there when Shango slipped through their fingers
But the hairs around my mouth come from a Portuguese slaveship
That colored my skin when it first crossed my forehead

The world is full of wonderful faces
If mine doesn’t smile,
It’s only my mother preparing her day.

Photos by Morisset


I'm not gonna play the professional photographer here. I'll leave that to the likes of Ocean Morisset and the Fort Green Photo Group. But every once in a while I surprise the experts...and myself!

Sedona, AZ

"I want the accident. I believe in it. It's the only hope of getting at something. A reality of intuition. The fluid nature of truth."--Michael Ackerman, Photographer

Another 'accident'. If you look closely this landscape takes the shape of an African mask. I didn't notice it until after I took the shot!

Ashville, NC
St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Tortula, British Virgin Islands
Salem Lake, NC
Barbados Cave

Images II: Black n Whites

My dad was into phototelling too. He would've liked these...


Beams 3

Wood cabin

Weekly jars



Wood cabin too

Old wooden bench


Tools by window

Trees in fog

Raindrops on lens

Tree hive

Light by lake


Old fire hydrant



Birdhouse too

Clay pots on porch bench

Cemetary plots



Moravian house

Hanging flowers

Hanging flowers too

Lamp by window

Creek too

Beams too

New York City

Manhattan Bridge