I grew up without the father I always wanted. Most of the time I struggled with that, other times I tried not to think about it. But that emptiness I felt was always there and always affected me. And at the same time, I used it as a tool to tell my story of growing up in the city of San Bernardino, California. It was my excuse for me to be the person I was. Although I thought I was developing into a great young man, I was still in the boy stage of life.
I say that I was still a boy because although I had accomplished getting into the college of my dreams, I had still based my whole story around the struggle of growing up without my father. But I was so much more than that. I had allowed the absence of my father to define who I was.
When fatherless black men begin to define our own destinies, and not allow the men who gave them a chromosome to shape their life, only then do we begin the transformation into manhood. A father being absent can indeed hurt and can also cause a loneliness that will never go away. But too many of us allow those feelings to justify our poor decisions in life. To fill this emptiness, many of us join gangs and participate in many other dangerous activities. And as long as we allow the absence of fathers to drive our childish decisions, we will remain boys.
We can survive this horrific war that has been waged against us, because we have survived it before. From the genocide of African people through the transatlantic slave trade, to slavery, to the Black Codes, to the Jim Crow Era, to the crack epidemic, and now to the age of mass incarceration and police violence. We have survived some of the most horrific experiences this world has ever seen. We have come very far, but we have so much further to go. If we can overcome all that we have endured, then surely we can overcome our current obstacles. Surely, we can become the kings that we are destined to be and rule over our own kingdoms.
It took me a while to understand who I was. But I thank God that I finally know. I am not a product of my father. I am a product of my own destiny, of my ancestors, and of God. When we began to break down the structure of life that everybody else created for us, and we build on our own, only then can we begin to transition from fatherless boys into the great black men that are needed in today’s society. We can accomplish this. I know this because we have done it before. And we shall do it again.