|Picture this. You’re a 3-year-old little girl, you fall, you cry. Your dad sees this. His response is:|
A. Oh lawd, my little girl is bruised!!!!
B. Awww, baby. You all right?
C. Where’s your mama?
D. If you didn’t have your ass up there after I told not to you wouldn’t have gotten hurt!
The answer from my dad was (D).
No hold’s barred; straight to the point commentary is what you get when you are in or are a product of the ghetto. Sure, we ghetto kids know our parents love us. Mommies are those special people who help us see and know love. Daddies are supposed to be there to protect and provide. Unfortunately, some drop the ball. Not all of them leave home for other women or are in jail. Some just have so much crap built up inside of them; they are not able to distinguish how to love themselves, let alone a child. It’s hard to love a child when you really have not been privy to a childhood of your own.
Believe it or not there are no books for raising a child in the ghetto in ghetto terminology. Not ebonics! - - which by the way does not work in New Orleans. They have a language all to themselves.
I mean terminology that would allow a young man who was beaten with an extension cord in his youth by his “loving” grandmother know how to put that pain aside and raise a family without any deep rooted anger issues. For him to know that grandma didn’t know any better and should have used a different approach. For that young man to know that hitting your child with an extension cord is just wrong. Love shouldn’t hurt.
It’s very painful to watch people talk, laugh and think fondly of the times they were beaten and abused. It appears to cloud their ability to know how to love without hitting or hurting.
No, all ghetto dads are not heartless brutes who beat their children (without cause), degrade their women or sit around being comfortable with the title of “baby-daddy”. And, there are more than a few who are fighting the courts in order to have more of a role in their child’s life. Yes, there are some ghetto dads who want to be more than a bi-weekly check and a pack of pampers.
Some of these men are proud and just haven’t found a way to express their innermost thoughts. Some have been so abused and damaged; they are doing the best they can just by staying sane. But, one thing is fo sho; they got their own language.
A language which has transcends generations, but due to a lack of understanding on the part of their ancestor’s, they were not prepared to communicate civilly with the next generation.
As a ghetto baby growing up with a ghetto dad, I need other ghetto babies to know they are not alone. Most importantly, your dad probably loved you so immensely it hurt him to his core that he never figured out how to show it. Maybe this can be the portal of healing for all of us.
My main mission for this book is to help my brothers heal.
Yes, all ghetto, low income, under represented, disenfranchised and under-educated brothers as a whole; but, specifically Keith and Tyrone.
Keith and Tyrone are my biological brothers. I talk with them as often as I can and I hear the confusion, pain and suffering in their voices; even when they laugh.
We are jovial people in general, but my brothers have learned how to rage from our father and how to internalize pain; pain so toxic they have taken to medicating themselves (one way or another) just to deal with the morning sun.
Being beaten with extension cords, abandonment, ridicule and humiliation are all components of my father’s childhood. He actually used those same components to raise us. This generational style of discipline would prove to be detrimental to my siblings and me. But, we have . . . are finding ways to . . . plan to . . . rise above it.
I’m not sure how my sisters and I have faired out better than our brothers. I need these words of wisdom to manifest into something positive that will heal their spirits and help them find a song for their hearts.
I also want these words of wisdom to manifest into something positive for all ghetto communities. It’s time for our men to take the torches of honor, respect and determination and start running their communities without the horror, shame and fears of yesterday.
It’s time for ghetto folk to start loving each other again with an agenda to excel as a family unit and create harmony within our society. If we loved each other as hard as we fight each other, image what our children would be created from; and aspire to.
Ghetto moms, I’m going to have a word for you later. But, if you’re a young ghetto dad reading this, understand that your babies need to hear you say you love them; while they are babies. Understand they will not think you’re weak if you pick them up and dust them off before telling them to “suck it up”.
Understand that your little girls are looking at you as a gauge for a future husband/mate/soldier. I am purposely single and without child because I refuse to allow a damaged spirit into my home, let alone to father my children. I paid attention to my father and have seen the hurt in his face as he tried to figure something out. Then I witnessed the rage as he verbally annihilated my mom, siblings and me because he couldn’t figure “it” out. Many times “it” was an internal pain he couldn’t explain. How can you be happy about having been beaten by someone who was supposed to love you?
This combination of lessons and words of wisdom actually are what strengthened me. I sat at the feet of the master and watched the game (playin and pimpin) unfold. I saw this street artisan at work in many realms - - training, manipulating, conniving. I even got to learn how to hide my emotions when I thought someone was getting too close (a positive move in the life of a playa).
With a ghetto dad the lessons are swift and memorable. Unfortunately, remembering lessons the way they were handed down without knowing the full meaning was detrimental to the psyche of my siblings and me.
Having our mother’s demeanor (compassion, caring, trust) did not always mesh with the ghetto vibe. To be happy meant having to be broke (think wild horse).
It is time to heal my brothers. It is time to know that it was okay to cry and run and hide from those beatings. You were a child and robbed of your childhood, as was my/your dad.
It is time to know as you heal . . . as those deep, gapping wounds are filled with the spirit of joy, love and peace; it is all right to cry, jump and sing for joy. You’ve survived some incredible odds. But, you’re alive to tell it. Now, it is your responsibility to tell the upcoming generation how it was, rejoice that it is over and begin making it right with yourself, your maker and those you love. Bottom line - It’s time to donate your baggage to Goodwill!
Your little boys are trying to figure out their role in life through you. Whether you want to be or not, as soon as the egg was fertilized, you became a role model, chief.
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