Black Thought

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”

-Booker T. Washington

Sure, it would be easy enough to become enamored by the seemingly authoritative, accomplished status of a wildly successful individual. The mere presence of seductive visuals – such as expensive status symbols – has tremendous influence as they elicit, sometimes, misguided deference from the admirer. However, I challenge the reader to momentarily ignore such material objects. Instead, please divert your attention to the process that granted such accomplishment possible. What did that individual experience during their journey to success? Trust this: The strength of a gentleman’s character is forged on the anvil of adversity. Through weathering distress or difficulty, prosperity is procured by he who believes a challenge is an opportunity. An opportunity to steel your will and seize achievement despite any obstacles you might encounter. Don’t be impressed by person’s materialistic results. Those are nice and fine to look at. Nevertheless, be more impressed with the vanquished adversity that withered in the face of impending success. And then go forth and forge your own.

Black Thought

“The true accolade was not only my father saying he was pleased, but that my grandmother would have been proud of me.”

William H. Hastie

Whether it is chronicling my adventures as a father here on this blog or being acknowledged by an individual while out in public, I generally receive positive affirmations regarding how I carry myself as a father. I am not so arrogant to bask in imaginary adulation and admiration, I receive any compliment humbly and move on. Nevertheless, after watching the latest ESPN 30 for 30 about the life and times of Dennis Rodman, I began to ponder about what attributes does a man require to be considered a good father. What drives some men to be good fathers while others falter? Why do some men from similar backgrounds embark upon dissimilar paths? A tearful Rodman expressed the want to be a good father and admitted his shortcomings. Yet that penitence did not offer comfort or solace to his children that yearned for fatherly love, for his contrition was absent meaningful action as a father.

Now, it is my sincere belief that no man, when faced with the prospect of becoming a father, willingly and consciously wants to fail as a parent. Rather, I believe some men are woefully equipped mentally, emotionally, and intellectually prior to becoming a father. We are all flawed. And the stress and pressure of fatherhood only work to exacerbate those human flaws. Nevertheless, I humbly consider myself a good father. I have been asking myself why lately. I check all the proverbial boxes for environmental conditions that should be a strong indicator of failed fatherhood. I was born in Detroit, Michigan and raised in a single-parent household that relied upon public assistance to make ends meet. There were other extenuating circumstances, but I will retain some simplicity here for the audience. My point should be clear to the audience – growing up as a young black male in a large urban city had some challenges to be sure.

So, how did I become an exception and avoid becoming a negative statistic? Well, after a few days of thinking, I surmised that the foundation of being a good father is constructed upon sound moral character, fidelity to responsibility, and a clear understanding of sacrifice. The two most prominent figures in my life – my mother & grandmother – fashioned the template that formed the man that I am today. With the aforementioned attributes in my mind, I was mainly driven by two directives: I never wanted to bring shame or disrespect to my family and I wanted to be the type of man that they could view with pride. And now, that way of thinking is extended to how I raise my children. This is what drives me to be the man and father that they will view with love and pride. Gentlemen – what motivates you to be the best father to your children?

Black Thought

paul-robesonSometimes, when sequestered within moments of quiet solitude, thoughtful ruminations reveal how incredibly fortunate I am. Fortunate, not in regards to monetary value, rather, fortunate in regards to the many blessings I have reaped tremendous benefit. Yes, I have been given much. Now, I understand that some individuals hold fast to the belief that they earn everything with no, if not minimal, assistance required. Well, sometimes success acts as a vanity whose reflection never grows tiresome to the person looking at it. Look, one cannot be merciless, yet expect mercy. One cannot embrace avarice, yet expect generosity. One cannot espouse hate, yet expect love.

Only speaking for myself, I have been granted favor and opportunity. I have been afforded mercy and forgiveness. I have been given love and grace. And because of those realities, it is of the utmost importance that I give back. Giving back – it could arrive in the form of your time, an inspirational word, a much needed hug, or an important professional opportunity. No one ever truly does it on their own. Someone, right now, needs you. And you may need someone. Go ahead, give of yourself and surely you will be given.

Black Thought

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”

-Booker T. Washington

Sure, it would be easy enough to become enamored by the seemingly authoritative, accomplished status of a wildly successful individual. The mere presence of seductive visuals such as expensive status symbols have tremendous influence as they elicit, sometimes, misguided deference from the admirer. However, I challenge the reader to momentarily ignore such material objects. Instead, please divert your attention to the process that granted such accomplishment possible. What did that individual experience during their journey to success? Trust this: The strength of a gentleman’s character is forged on the anvil of adversity. Through weathering distress or difficulty, prosperity is procured by he who believes a challenge is an opportunity. An opportunity to steel your will and seize achievement despite any obstacles you might encounter. Don’t be impressed by person’s materialistic results. Those are nice and fine to look at. Nevertheless, be more impressed with the vanquished adversity that withered in the face of impending success. And then go forth and forge your own.

Black Thought

“Let us realize too that even we disenfranchised have our duties.”

W.E.B. Du Bois

Responsibility. Every gentleman owns a select portion of this in his community. Regardless of his limiting socioeconomic circumstances, a gentleman must deliver the very best of his talents for the improvement of his neighborhood. I definitely understand that this may be difficult for some gentlemen. One may feel that their status in society does not meet acceptable or suitable standards. However, I say to those individuals who may feel as if life has dealt a cruel poker hand; you still have much to offer. Do not sit idle and allow your gifts to waste and rot. Your community patiently awaits your arrival. Waiting for the “right” time when everything is correct in the world is not an option. What if the “right” time never arrives? The only right time is right now. Do not hesitate. Do not second guess. You are stronger, more intelligent, and more talented than you might realize; it is your duty to improve the environment around you. You possess the necessary tools to make a difference. Act now!

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