...my right hand, Pappa Doc I see. More me. Writing in the Washington Post about my Dad, in honor of Father's Day, which he doesn't celebrate:
When I think of my father, I think of a dynamic, tyrannical consistency. He cut his children off at every pass, and his message was terrifying: "I am bigger than you, stronger than you and smarter than you. I will win." We felt a constant pressure, a pervading sense that ending up as a nothing corner-boy was not an option. We lived by a kind of Bushido that simply held: Be somebody or die.
So much has changed since those days. The streets are, as they always were, marked by peril. But the murder rate has fallen, and Magic Johnson is still alive. And yet in the homes of so many black children, the father remains invisible. I don't want to slip into the lazy mythology of Ward Cleaver and the vanishing nuclear family. What's done is done, and as we move forward, families will no longer be what they were. So many fathers -- unable to be breadwinners, frustrated with the mothers of their children -- simply check out. But in these times, we must remember the core of fatherhood: that it is nasty work, that it is the dark art of manipulating children into striving for their higher selves, and that it will be many years before the children themselves see that this was best.
For those of you in the NYC area, I'll be at Real Men Cook up here in Harlem, celebrating the brothers who are living right. Come through, if you have a moment. Buy a book, while you're at it.