Monday, January 24, 2011

A Matter of Perspective

As February approaches, I get a bit nervous.  Some may mistake it for the coming Valentine's Day, but that is not the case.  I am not one to get caught-up in consumerism; if my wife doesn't know I love her the other 364 days of the year, then what will V-Day tell her?  She's only worth the effort one time each year?  Anyways, My birthday is in February, but even that is not what makes me somewhat nervous; not even turning 30 this year is what makes me nervous about February.  I get a tingling nervousness because February is Black History Month.  But why?  Why do I get this feeling?

Well, here's a picture of me
Yay!  I'm Black!  I don't have to feel guilty at all this month!  I Majored in History so I won't sound like an idiot when someone mistakenly says Whitney Houston Invented the Cotton Gin in Eli, Texas, I won't agree with them.  I am a 3rd-Generation college grad, and a 2nd-Gen Master's degree earner.  Success is expected in my family.  My brother and I both were accepted to military academies, my other brother was an NAIA College National Champion in Track.  So why does BHM make me nervous?  Here's a picture that illustrates my life
There are actually too many chocolate chips in this "town" of a cookies, because I grew up around an OBSCENE amount of  White people.  As in, my family was The Black Family they knew.  

So here is the root of my nervous tingles: I think I give, and have given, all my childhood friends the wrong idea about Black people.  There was an assumption that we were just like the Cosby Show, but how realistic is that?  I was good at sports, but i didn't bring it up because I knew it was a stereotype.  It wasn't fair to talk trash when I could always back it up... it was cockiness that could have bordered on mean.  Just because they found out Shawn Kemp could dunk in the 8th grade I was always asked if I could too... I spent whole days trying to jump higher just so I could.  I was not offended by remarks I had no knowledge were widely known as being racist or offensive.  

I was first called the N-Word in 3rd grade by a classmate who most likely heard it from their parents.  When I ask my mom what it meant, she said that it was a word for Black people.  I said, "Well, I am."  I got to learn about Black History from people who "had to " teach it with peers who could not relate.  I would get angry at images I watched in class about the Civil Rights protests, and not know why or have anyone to talk to about it.  I can't tell you the number of Black jokes I've laughed off.  

Now, I am a professional with a Master's in Education, and I find myself in as The Black Teacher in a school with a >1% minority enrollment.  I don't blame the district, it's only 25 miles East of Seattle.  I just want to make it through BHM without becoming a part of someone's curriculum. 

What does BHM mean to me? Nothing.  It doesn't land in the school year curricula during the Civil Rights movement, and to devote a single period of time to anything is to essentially ignore it the rest of the time.  If you want my opinion (which you must if you've made it this far into this post), then BHM starts in Math classes with the discussion of how a Black man's vote was only counted as two-thirds.  The you  can move into why we wanted to show America, and he world, that we are 100% MAN!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Son, On Your First Birthday

A Letter to My Son, DMHB,

            Hey buddy.  Since today is your first birthday, I wanted to take a moment to tell you about your first year of life.  To be perfectly honest, this has been a very trying year, but looking at you has made it all worth it.  The time since you were born has flown by; so let me start by getting some of the tangibles out of the way.  In the last 12 months, I finished my Master’s in Special Education and started a new teaching position in North Bend, your mom has started a new position and schedule at the Hospital, and your sister has started preschool up at MVP.  We moved in with Nana and Papa for a few long weeks before finding a rental home close by.  You rode in an airplane to California where you got to sleep and poop in Disneyland, and meet your Great Grandma. 

            D, in this short year you have shown yourself to be silly, charming, happy, affectionate, fun-loving, easy-going, opinionated, smart, and a very good boy.  In short, you fit into our crazy family perfectly.  Your sister loves you, and is happy that you are getting more and more mobile every day.  Your mother could not love you any more than she does now; you are a momma’s boy, and she’s glad for that.  As for me, you are my boy.  You are not my chance to right the wrongs of my childhood.  You are your own life, and choices, and consequences.  My only hope is that you allow me to go on this journey with you. 

            You are mine.

            I am yours.

I love you son,


A Question of Race

Do I want to bring RACE into the MvD equation? I don't know. I am not afraid to discuss race with ANYONE. I do not believe racism does not exist. But there are other blogs that address the topic of being a Black father on a regular basis. Is that something I want to take on? Is being a Black father something that needs extra support, or something that has wrongly been given a bad reputation? Am I an exception to the norm, or am I part of a growing minority of Black fathers with their heads on straight? I don't know... Thoughts?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, January 20, 2011

An Education in Manhood

My own thought caught me off guard today.  Aside from being a husband and father searching for my own manhood, I am a Special Education teacher in a Middle School.  There are constant discussions and debates over the roles of teachers and the lines they can and should cross, and what it means to "educate" children.  Maybe I come back around to this idea over and over, because I have written a post about this before.  Click on the link and feel free to leave a comment on my Education Blog.  Where are these boys seeing manhood for 6-7 hours everyday?  Who shows them how to try, fail, and try again as men?  Who is there to say "so what?" "Suck it up", "pull it together", or "be a man"?  

Not many, that's who.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Late Night Ramblings

Some days I feel like I was a kid floating through life doing what I felt I was supposed to be doing. In and out of relationships, screwing up along the way. And then, one day, I wanted to be a man. So I decided to "do" what I thought a man does, and think the way I thought a man did.

As my 30th birthday approaches, I am caught in the dilemma of being a dad, and the whether the march of time makes me an old kid or a man. It is a milestone, but it will only mean I've survived another year, not that I've matured another year.

By losing all father-figures in my life, have I lost any chance of becoming truly validated in manhood. Or am I left to just guess?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Getting to know Chris reveals a survivor...
After my [email] interview with Chris, the author of, I found myself with a deep respect for him. This is the kind of respect one has for an individual who goes through hell and comes through the other side a better person. For this reason, he reminds me of my own biological father, whom I’ve only known for the past seven years. He too was recently clean and sober when we met, and he had also endured some rough years. However, the man I met on this side of those hard times was a gentle gracious man I’ve grown to admire. Pulling yourself out of your own muck and mire, even with the help of friends, family, or faith, is an undertaking few have success with.
Chris is what happens when you allow the harsh truth to stop making excuses for you, and you let it set you free. The one thing that attracted me to his blog was his About the Author section where he explains how he suffered from Paternal Post-Partum Depression (PPPD). Since I had never known anyone who had suffered from this, I was intrigued. I won’t go into it, because Chris does a great job in this section and in a recent post. However, this is something that does hit new fathers, and can be an isolating downfall for new dads who think they are failing their kids, and have nowhere to turn for help, for a helping hand, or for a way out. Chris has provided them this.
I strongly believe that we are not the mistakes we make in life, and that we are defined by how we respond to what life brings us. The insights Chris can bring as someone who has dealt with addiction (continues to beat addiction everyday), someone who has gone through PPPD, someone who has ADHD are numerous, and creates a platform to draw many to his site.
Chris has been blogging for about three years, and has been working on DaddysDown (in one form or another) for about a year and a half. The initial reason for the blog was to spread awareness about PPPD and to tell his own story about his experiences with it. However, the purpose of the blog has evolved in a natural way to address more issues of fatherhood. In Chris’ own words,
“Daddy's Down described a father that was depressed or for lack of better terminology, down. It has since morphed into a commentary on how beat up I often feel as a father after a day of parenting, especially when I haven't had my coffee. It also tends to create an image in people's mind of this dad, passed out cold, down for the count. Daddy's Down just seemed to continue to work when I changed the focus of my blog.”
Even though DaddysDown was not started as a brand, it has branding potential, and you could picture merchandise with the label on it someday. DaddysDown has many connotations to it, and I think it can mean a lot of different things related to fatherhood. Money is not Chris’ motivator, and has four main goals of his blog:
1. To tell my life story to the world so that they can learn from my mistakes and not have to learn from their own as well as learn from my successes so that they can experience their own.
2. To give dads a toolbox that they can use to be better dads and raise excellent children who will one day be better dads and moms.
3. To be a place to vent and hopefully have someone who will listen.
4. To be entertaining. I love nothing more than to make people laugh and smile.
While I would love to one day be able to make a little money by blogging, that would only be a byproduct of the four goals that I have listed.
Chris strikes me as a good man who continues to try and do better. Like any good man, he has a great woman behind him. He credits his forgiving and supportive wife with helping him remain accountable daily to being clean and sober. What a blessing. His children help to motivate him to stay clean, and much like every dad, he wants to be present, engaged, and able to remember their childhoods and watch them grow. Chris credits those in his life who loved him enough to pray for him for the fact that he is not currently in a gutter somewhere. “Thank God that HE is a God of second chances and forgiveness,” he says, “HE has put my wife and kids in my life, and I believe that HE uses them as daily reminders of how good I have it.”
One of the last questions I asked Chris was what lessons do you hope your children learn from your life? I liked his answer so much I will just quote it.
The answer is very short and simple: Be honest, be honorable, love God, and always do the right thing even if it hurts.
These are things that I wish I had learned as a kid and the lack of them caused me to travel through a very dark path in my life. That dark path is one that almost cost me everything. Had I only learned early on to be honest, be honorable, love God and always do the right thing even if it hurts, then my life would have been a whole lot easier up to this point. I would never want my kids to experience the things that I have experienced. They can avoid the pitfalls of my life by learning those four things.
I liked his answer because it has to do with creating a better life for his kids than he had, which is what fatherhood commissions every man to do. Thank you for your efforts Chris.
To his readers, Chris wants you to know the following things:
I want them to learn that a good cup of coffee and a big bear hug are essential to life. I want them to learn that you have take care of yourself if you want to take care of your family. I want them to learn that in the worst of times you can be assured that things will always get better. I want them to learn that being a father is a gift, but one that comes with much responsibility, The rewards however are endless. Most importantly, I want them to learn that God loves them and wants them to be happy.
Chris, thank you for your struggles and triumphs. Thank you for your efforts, and for your blog. Thank you for sharing your life with the world. And thank you for the DADTIFICATES they are one of my favorite parts of your blog. Keep them coming. And thank you from me for being my first dad blog interview!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dad-Blogger Interviews! [Coming Soon]

I have been blogging for about 2 years, with this most recent one centering around fatherhood. While I have been looking around at other dad blogs, one of the things I find difficult, is learning about the blog and the blogger quickly. For this reason, I have been following ALL the dad blogs I come across in the hopes that I will get a chance to go back and see if it is something (or someone) I will be interested in. This is why I am going to do a series of interviews of dad bloggers. I will be starting with Daddy's Down and I think I know who I will do after that. I think it will be a good way to get to really know the dad-bloggers in our community, which will bring clearer understanding to their blog posts. I tried to do this for my own blog with my mission statement post.

If you would like to be interviewed, please post a comment below or tweet me @ManvDadhood.

I look forward to getting to know the dad-blog network.