Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families


African American Fathers… Doing What It Takes!

I've mentioned numerous times that the greatest joy I've ever felt was the day I became a father. I remember very clearly when my daughter was born. In an instant my sense of my place in the world felt fundamentally different. The feeling only intensified when my son was born.

Along this journey, the decade plus a few years that it's been, I've learned a great deal about what it means to be a father. Below are a number of essential affirmative statements describing fatherhood, at least as I've come to appreciate it. Most are in no particular order, and I admit being far better at some of these than others.

The beauty of life is that you get to practice things over and over again, getting better and better with experience. And that's really what I've come to appreciate as the true beauty in fatherhood. We get to practice it every single day, and often with very immediate feedback.

So I'm sending lots of love to all the fathers out there, and the mothers that make our critically important roles possible. May we all continue to do everything it takes.

Affirmative Statements on African American Fatherhood

African American fathers show our highest appreciation for God, the Creator, the Supreme life force in the universe.

African American fathers actively demonstrate our highest regard for mothers, for without mothers, we could never experience the Divine gift of fatherhood.

African American fathers connect our children to relatives, for a child without family is like a boat adrift at sea, with no oars or no paddles.

African American fathers learn from and listen closely to our elders.

African American fathers wake up in the middle of the night to hold and comfort our infant children.

African American fathers cry when we are sad and hurting, showing that it’s human to express emotion.

African American fathers comfort our children when they are sad or hurt, and then help

African American fathers encourage our children to do their best in school.

African American fathers create conditions that nurture our children’s curiosity and creativity.

African American fathers let teachers know we hold high expectations for our children, and expect them to demonstrate the same.

African American fathers help our children with homework when needed, to the greatest extent we can.

African American fathers volunteer to go on our child’s field trip at least once during the school year.

African American fathers go to parent teacher conferences, or make other arrangements to talk with our child’s teachers.

African American fathers braid our daughters’ hair.

African American fathers find consistent ways to encourage and support mothers.

African American fathers cook meals with real (nutritious) food.

African American fathers learn from other fathers.

African American fathers demonstrate a healthy lifestyle, in the things we eat, drink and the ways we take care of our bodies.

African American fathers teach our children to respect their elders.

African American fathers provide the right amount of structure for our children.

African American fathers actively seek out information about African American child and adolescent development.

African American fathers laugh with our children.

African American fathers change diapers.

African American fathers discipline our children with care and love, for the purpose of correcting inappropriate behavior.

African American fathers wash dishes.

African American fathers protect our children and our families at all costs.

African American fathers acknowledge our mistakes, and our ability to make corrections.

African American fathers help our children appreciate the diversity of male personalities and representations in the world.

African American fathers find appropriate and sometimes creative strategies for making sure our children's basic material needs are met.

African American fathers place our
children in environments where there are supportive, nurturing and responsible adults, who promote the health and well being of children.

African American fathers help to heal the emotional wounds of both our sons and daughters.

African American fathers listen, read and reflect, showing by example the value of learning, deep thought and understanding.

African American fathers study, in an effort to fully understand the history of African people in the world.

African American fathers help our children and families understand and navigate the terrain of racism and white supremacy (the myth and pathology) in this world, with a balanced emphasis on resistance and self care.

African American fathers teach our child about the history of African people, and our place in the world.

African American fathers read to our children every night before they go to bed.

African American fathers are not perfect, and work on being better fathers every single day.

African American fathers demonstrate the importance of Good Speech.

African American fathers give thanks every day and night for the Divine gift of at least another day of fatherhood.

African American fathers do whatever it takes!

African American fathers absolutely love being fathers!


10 Messages of Wisdom We Need to Give Black Youth

Sometimes I think we really over-complicate the basic messages and lessons we should be teaching our children. We can't overlook the nuts and bolts our parents and grandparents taught us.

An article by Ernest Owens posted yesterday on The Huffington Post reminds us of some of these basics. He covers a number of important reminders that many of us might take for granted, but that our young people need to hear consistently, and be prompted to reflect on.

The major points follow. Certainly worth reading the full article.

Lately, I have had the pleasure of spending quality time with my younger brother. Seeing him play with his fellow peers has felt more like ethnography than just playtime in the backyard. One thing that is certain and upsetting: The current issues that black adults are fighting about today are being carried out by their children. The colorism, teasing about blackness, and masculinity is being expressed at micro levels. Sadly, I have begun to fear that if anyone isn't out there encouraging the youth more socially, the cycle will continue.

...So here is what I've learned and my only hope is that others will carry it on:

  1. You are entering a world of prejudgment, but you can still redefine yourself.
  2. Don't ever let anyone question your blackness -- it's not their right.
  3. Success is not only through fame and fortune, but hard work and integrity.
  4. Athletes and entertainers are not the only aspiring role models -- search for mentors in your community and elsewhere.
  5. Being light or dark-skinned makes you no better or inferior of a person.
  6. Boys, it's okay to express your emotions; and girls, it's okay to exercise independence.
  7. Education is, and will always be, essential -- no matter what career you choose.
  8. Words are stronger than fists. Use them more.
  9. Let your inner beauty be shown through your personal creativity, not just from pop culture.
  10. You are smart and entitled to happiness just like anyone else in the world.

And concluding...

Lastly, I hope that many read this as a way to strengthen the black youth of today rather than just dismiss it as another guy preaching respectability politics. I am only 22-years-old and while many before me have tried to encourage blacks to "be just like the rest of them" or learn how other races do it, I am instead trying to pass down lessons that I have learned coming up so that one day my younger brother won't have to grow up to see lists like this or wonder why there aren't as many visible high achieving black role models outside of sports and entertainment that he can publicly look up to.


Educating African American and Latino Students

Just came across an article this evening that was posted on Huffington Post's Black Voices page last Friday.  In the article, Twelve Tips All Educators Must Know About Educating African American and Latino Students, Quasson Castro highlights 12 considerations for educators to keep in mind when teaching African American and Latino students.

It's a quick read, and can serve as an introduction to basic diversity and cultural competence discussions for teachers of students who are of a different racial/ethnic background.

The twelve considerations...

  • Check stereotypes
  • Connect with parents
  • Cultural images
  • Identity
  • Motivation
  • Enthusiasm
  • After school programs
  • Value of education and real life
  • Forgive
  • Model appropriate behavior and Dress for success
  • Suspension
  • Classroom format

Worth the quick read.