The Healing Man
One of the differences as to why some people make it and others don’t, isn’t always about who they are but who they have. It is important for young men and young women to have someone they can go to for guidance and advice; this will increase their chances of success.
Most ideas and thoughts have already been attempted in some form or facet but maybe not the way you dreamt it. Your unique spin to how you would implement things in this world is the result of a vast imagination; and a vast imagination is an important element to success. Being able to access someone who has been through what you have or going through is how the little battles are won. A good friend of mine once said, “support equals success.” Who do you have supporting you?
How I serve is by supporting and empowering youth. Oftentimes, I see myself as being what I didn’t have. A strong male support system not just of peers but of elders. The disconnect of black men between the older and younger generations is why a lot of these young males suffer. We could thank mass incarceration and more for this but young females suffer as well from not having a strong male presence in their life. I won’t address that at this time in this post but the lack of a strong male presence hurts.
Growing up I didn’t have a strong relationship with my father. Being a mommas boy I felt like I didn’t need one. Once I started playing sports my coaches become the strong men in my life while my dad did part-time job as usual. Then one day I didn’t have the same football coaches. The distance between my father and I started to grow. Too young to realize the impact of this I kept living my life until one day I ended up in a detention facility locked up.
No one came to see me but my mother. Not my football coach nor father and my brother was too far so I had no male I could lean on in my time of crisis. When I got out I was sent to live with my older brother whom I hadn’t seen in awhile. I looked forward to it cause I needed to get away from my sisters and mother; it was time for me to learn how to be a man and that wasn’t getting done in Oklahoma City by those responsible.
When I got to Washington it felt good to have a big brother again. He taught me alot in my first couple of months here but soon his issues of not having a strong male figure to lean and rely on started to manifest; eventually was unable to be mine. He did his best but it’s hard to be something you never had and although I resented it at the time as I reflect I understand. Once again it was back to football coaches and the few people from the community who wanted to help me.
I was introduced to my first mentor I would say in the 9th grade at Todd Beamer High School. I was walking the halls and this man noticed my hair was nappy as hell and offered to cut it. Myself and other football players all got haircuts in the locker room and through that connection I joined the Black Student Union. In the BSU, he showed us to step like black fraternities and inspired us to be more. This was a positive experience for me growing up and it kept me and those other individuals out of trouble but it was unable to last that long. There’s no money in mentorship so it’s difficult for good-hearted people to be consistent when they too have mouths to feed.
My uncle and I had got closer when I almost committed to Fresno State; since then he had been a strong male influence in my life ever since high school but he lived in California. Still grateful I can call someone I won’t be too picky. When I went off to college I didn’t call him as often as I should have. I had football coaches again that I could rely on for that support. My position coach and I had a good relationship but the coach who recruited me was like all the black players’ big brother. He looked out for us and helped advocate for us when we felt his colleagues were showing bias or being too harsh.
There were a few occasions where I would say I really needed a man to lean on. The first being when I went to juvi and the other being in college when I got this lady pregnant. Yeah that’s right; I was going to be a father at just 19 years old and I found out the week of my first college football game. I was scared but motivated because I knew a huge responsibility awaited me. I knew I was going to be a great dad and my age didn’t concern me I wanted a kid just so I could be what I didn’t have.
When I shared this news with my coaches they didn’t share my enthusiasm, in fact some were disappointed in me. They knew the challenges I would face having a kid at a young age as well with a woman I had no intentions of being with. They helped me see a greater picture while still being my support and making sure I finished school. When I shared the news that she had a miscarriage their joy for me brought me out of my slump. I was sad but they helped me see the lesson in this. I am grateful for that group of coaches who did for me what positive male figures should.
After college, I went into the world with now a few more people that I felt like I could call on for advice and support. I went into law enforcement and was able to gain some more male influences. I felt like I had a solid network. Even after law enforcement when I went into education and now I feel like I have a circle of men I could call on. But I learned something else about myself as well as the youth I serve. We don’t know how to ask for help.
Here I have this network of men who I have grown to know and are in the same field of work. Yet, when I hit my low point in 2016 none of them got a phone call. I would see people out in public who could just feel I was going through something; I mean they could see the pain in my eyes or the dried tears on my face. They always would say if you need anything just call but I wouldn’t. I needed a job, a loan, a dollar hell and I needed a hug. I had too much pride to ask for help as we often do as men but as I analyze was it really pride?
Lets look back; the only positive men I was able to open up to were coaches. That was my level of comfort and where I felt most supported. Life although similar is not a football field and because of those undeveloped positive male relationships in my childhood I found it hard in my future to make those connections and I suffered because of it. It wasn’t pride I just didn’t know how to go to a male to ask for help. I am better at it now but it is still difficult; I could call my mentors a lot more cause I need them.
As I continue to grow I realize I need them more than ever because navigating Amerikkka as a black male is difficult. We need each other to help us through this maze. Some older black males put themselves before the younger ones and instead of helping them up they let them fall on their face. It’s justified with statements like, “I had to do xyz why can’t you.” This can’t be the way anymore; it’s time we help each other get ahead. We need as black men and learn how to work together again.
Being a man who is responsible for helping young men become men is very difficult when no one showed you how to be a man. I guess we’re figuring it out together in a sense because as they open up to me I have to go and seek older men who can help me help them. I am bridging a generational gap, I am healing and it feels amazing. As I learn I see that being a man isn't this macho thing that we see on TV its taking pride in the little things like taking care of your family. Its taking care of yourself and walking in alignment with creation and its creators, providing and protecting for those chosen to help you on your journey.
I love this man shit and I didn’t get here the traditional way but I had throughout my life men that I was able to see and show me what I needed to know and my ancestors for the rest. I don’t know it all but as I teach I first seek to learn so that I can be the example for young men who are growing up like me. We will figure it out and we will heal and once we are able to heal then we as Black men will take back our rightful place in society.