Archive for the ‘Fatherhood’ Category
Friday, April 6th, 2012
Gil Noble and his award winning program Like It Is, represents some true milestones in my life. With his recent death, due to complications from a stroke last summer, I can’t help but reflect on what his show meant to me. If my life were a movie, Like It Is would have to be included on a television screen in at least two or three scenes.
Like It Is, was the only television show in New York City that covered issues of the African diaspora fully from the perspective of those within the community. It was unapologetic during a time when it was more common to tone down and seek mass appeal.
If you were to ask me to describe a perfect Sunday while I was living in NYC it would include two NYC treasures; Hal Jackson’s Sunday Morning Classics on WBLS and Gil Noble’s Like It Is. I honestly considered not having these two influential programs in my life as a factor in moving. In fact, I was under the incorrect impression when I moved out to the Poconos that the cable company carried the NYC ABC affiliate which I thought would allow me access. Fortunately, I still enjoy the Sunday Classics via the online stream.
There’s no way for me to think about Like It Is or Gil noble without warm fond memories of my father.
My introduction to the show and an afro centric perspective was more like a rites of passage.
My father would watch “Brother Gil” religiously. As a youngster I wasn’t really interested in watching two or more people sitting around a table talking. However, around the age of 13 or 14 my father didn’t ask me to join him he very politely commanded. I was smart enough to obey.
This started a process that would repeat each week until I was ready to go off on my own. I could be in the kitchen getting my favorite “Jungle Juice” fruit punch and my Dad just seemed to appear announcing “Let’s go, Like It Is.” Into his room I would follow taking my place on the floor in front of the television. In the early days, I would hope for the episodes featuring people and things I knew, Dr. King, Malcolm X or the black Panthers. I loved the black and white clips of the 1950′s and 60′s. I would have a hard time staying awake for the round table discussions about Pan Africanism or political issues that I couldn’t understand.
My father would point out elders like Dr. Ben and john Hendrick Clark, making sure I was aware of their importance to our history.
The day came when I graduated from my passage training. My Dad no longer sought me out when he realized I was already in front of the television waiting for it to start. Then I was in my own room watching it alone. I never knew then how much I would miss the early days we shared watching the show together.
I was fortunate enough to meet Gil Noble during a small intimate presentation I attended at Baruch College around 1991. He spoke of his experiences in the media. It was easy to see that he enjoyed these opportunities to hear from the next generation and use the occasion to encourage. He was one of those speakers that seem less concerned with time or a busy schedule and more so with his audience.
I don’t know if my father ever met Mr. Noble. I wish I could have taken my Dad with me to that presentation, but he was already diagnosed and well into his experience with Parkinson’s disease.
As a father now, I know what it would have meant to him to attend the presentation with his son. It was obvious that he wanted to assure that I was equipped with information and a healthy perspective of what it means to be an African American man. In a way it would have been both a confirmation for him that I received what he was teaching and it would have been a thank you gift right back at him.
My Dad wanted for me the same thing Mr. Noble wanted for the community.
Dad knew the importance of instilling a true sense of pride. He knew there were other personalities and stories from our community that would benefit his child’s self-image.
Mr. Noble had the ability to bring the community the other side of stories that mainstream news organizations too often failed to present.
The archive of this show is truly a treasure chest containing over 40 years of information on all relevant issues impacting the African diaspora. From politics to culture Mr. Noble has interviewed them all.
In this age where information is so readily accessible, I would hope that something is done to not only preserve the Like It Is legacy, but make it available to all via the internet.
Thank you to my Dad and Gil Noble for introducing me to the true history of African Americans, Africans throughout the diaspora and subsequently myself.
Now all I can do is my best to pay it forward.
Thursday, April 5th, 2012
That simple statement can be spoken in a variety of situations. I know when I was a new father, I was told horror stories by some Dad’s I knew that began with a similar declaration.
Recently I had the pleasure of hearing these from my oldest.
When I first found out I was going to be a Dad, I knew that I wanted to be the type of father that my child could talk to regardless of the subject matter.
Then I found out I was having a girl.
“Would I be able to handle delicate topics” I thought.
In fact, I don’t think I even knew what counted as such a topic. You could say I really didn’t do delicate.
Several mistakes were made along the way. I’m not sure what advice I could impart to a new father, but I sure have a list of things not to do.
Case in point…
There’s going to come a time when your child may ask you if Santa Claus is real.
Do not, I repeat do not follow their inquisitive question with something like…
“Do you want the truth?”
Ok you Monday morning quarterback, of course it’s easy to see the error of my ways now!
Who knew what I was thinking? Maybe it’s a naive optimistic belief that truth is appreciated. This has been a problem all my life. Don’t get me started on questions like, “How do I look in this outfit?” Yes, I fell for that one too!
Even today, in theory, my response to this natural question heard by parents all over seems logical. Except it implies that you will or have lied already
The bigger problem is most children want to know the truth, so they will instinctively request that option. Chances are though, that if they did not figure out anything for themselves at this point, they’re probably not ready. And yes, that is what happened to me. I fell for the okey doke!
Should I have run for cover, bob and weave my way around it or maybe just keep up the story?
Even to this very day my daughter will pull out this memory and blame me for some post Santa trauma.
In comparison to questions about anatomy, puberty and relationships, well Ol’ Saint Nick seems much easier to handle. The truth is you never know and when dealing with females, you better be prepared for anything.
Now I’m probably not the one who should dispense advice, but if there’s anything I can share with a young Dad, do not shy away from this stuff. You are building a relationship and you are becoming a valuable resource to your child. This is good, but yes very scary. If you’re lucky, you will one day experience a conversation similar to the one I shared with my daughter.
As I sat on my couch, listening to an audio book or maybe podcast, my daughter entered my office and made the declaration, “Daddy, I need to talk to you!”
While removing my headphones, I ran through a personal reminder checklist:
- Give her your full attention
- Keep a poker face
- Listen for names and store or edit the record in the mental database (I strongly recommend this to fathers of girls!)
- Don’t say anything too stupid
- I repeat, don’t say anything too stupid
After the story I shared earlier you should understand the repetition of the final point.
Now, the details of the conversation are not important. (The final bullet points above also apply to this blog and any other social media.)
What is important is that she chose to talk to me. She valued my input and trusted me with her emotions enough to share.
I don’t think I could have reached what I consider to be a monumental achievement by avoiding or running away from the difficult conversations.
Chances are that this was probably a bigger deal to me than it was to my daughter, but isn’t that the way it should be?
This is definitely a memory I will file under D, for Daddy Daughter Days.
Friday, March 30th, 2012
That would’ve been 1985
I was 17 a high school senior. I was thinking about college, girls, friends and my future. Like most 17 year olds it probably wasn’t in that order!
Back then we wore AJ’s, Lee’s, Adidas, Nike and yes hoodies – hooded sweatshirts. In fact, there still a major part of my work from home wardrobe. Go to any college campus and you will find all types of students dressed in hoodies; some with baggy jeans others with shorts and sandals. You can even find them in offices and cubicles in Silicon Valley, i.e. Mark Zuckerberg founder of Facebook.
I stress this idea that the hooded sweatshirt is a universal garment because people in the media are using Travon Martin’s wardrobe as a way to categorize him and judge his character.
As you probably know, Travon Martin is the young teenager who was murdered by George Zimmerman, a 28 year old wanna-be cop. As of this writing, Zimmerman has not been arrested for this crime.
Not many facts about the case are truly known. We do know that Zimmerman is reported to have called the police close to 50 times in a year. Each time reporting observing “suspicious characters.” We know he was told to stop following this so called suspicious character who turned out to be Travon. We know a young man is dead.
A real unfortunate fact that so many don’t like to discuss is that this is not new to America. African American males assumed criminals and murdered whether by gun, beating or rope. It’s a fact that those who don’t want to deal with accuse those who remind them, of “making it racial.”
Since 5th grade I learned I was no longer an innocent boy in the hearts and minds of many in this country. When clowning around with a friend in school, I alone was removed from the class. I remember my teachers face turning evil as she yelled at me in the hall and accused me of looking at her with “that face.” She towered over me, but yet said she was scared of what my face was telling her.
I learned that this would be something I would have to deal with all my life. My “look”.
Fortunately, my father explained to me that I would never be looked at the same. Now I was getting a little size, my voice was getting deeper and people’s perception of me would move me from the innocent to the suspect category.
Throughout my life, I have experienced situations that could have ended much worse than they actually did. Whether driving while black, walking while black, riding the train while black and the first incident, looking while black.
This isn’t new!
It’s hard to read and watch how this story is being played out in the media. It all starts with the criminalization of Travon’s name and image. Again, none of this is new. Next, panelists are brought out to analyze the story and bring up issues that are unrelated to the case. Yes, there’s black on black crime, yes there’s the glorification of gangster life, but none of that has to do with this case.
Emmett Till knows.
Yusef Hawkins knows.
Amadou Diallo Knows.
And so do many others who are nameless.
This case is so heavy on my mind and I’m not exactly sure why.
I’d like to hope it’s because I am human and the senseless loss of life affects me.
I wonder if it’s because I am a Dad and I can feel for Travon’s parents.
Maybe it’s because I can remember being Travon and the wonderful memories of that time in my life. So much hope and potential, but another young brother won’t have that same opportunity all because he was assumed guilty.
Friday, March 16th, 2012
Last weekend, my family had the chance to accompany my oldest daughter to MIT in Boston, MA.
She was participating in the MIT Sparks program.
I figured I’ll take the recorder along and document the experience. Listen to our trip from my perspective in a bit over 9 minutes.
Friday, November 18th, 2011
Today is my little girl’s 8th birthday!
Every year around this time I think back to when she was born. This was during the same time I was noticing a big change in my vision. In fact, driving my wife to NYC to give birth to our daughter would be the last time I would drive a car.
I’m sure at first glance, these memories may seem quite sad. However, when I received my cancer diagnosis only a few weeks after Raven’s birth and my choices were between blindness and life, well it makes these celebrations even better!
Thanks to the use of a digital audio recorder, I found ways to capture the special moments I once believed I wouldn’t get the chance to enjoy!
I thought on this special day, I would share them with you. Take a listen to a mix of some Daddy Daughter moments with Raven and I.
I’m so fortunate and blessed to be around to enjoy these and hopefully many more to come!
Sunday, June 21st, 2009
I think I got a message from my father this morning.
My Dad passed away in 96. My last dream right before I woke up this morning was so cool.
I ran into my parents bedroom to say bye to my Dad before I went out of the house with my mother and sister. I jumped on the bed as my Dad was sleeping and gave him a kiss on his cheek. I could feel his soft skin covered by a scruffy 5 o’clock shadow.
He smiled and said, “I’ll see you later.”
One day, I will! Happy Father’s Day to my Dad and all of you out there.
Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
Here’s a doll for teaching children the “other” side of parenting.
Baby Talk Back.
This cute and sometimes loveable doll responds like a CWA, “Child With an Attitude.”
Ask the doll to do something, anything, watch how she doesn’t respond.
The doll asks questions and when you try to give her the answer to her question, she says in an annoying whining voice, “I know already!”
This doll can do it all,, suckher teeth, roll her eyes and of course talk back.
Ask her three times very politely to do her chore and sit back and watch as she:
- Slams her hand on the counter
- Stomps off in a CWA rage
- In a very realistic voice speak the two most famous phrases;
I didn’t make the mess Why do I have to clean my room?
Janey doesn’t have to clean her room.
(This programmable doll even allows the user to choose the name of their choice.)
Purchase two and watch them argue with one another.
Now, put the doll in a corner for a half hour and sit back and watch it change into a beautiful loveable child.
C’mon Mattel and other toy manufacturer’s, holla at me.
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009
January 27, 2004 began like most days. The one thing that made this day so different from others, I would enter the hospital uncertain if I would awake with any sight, or for that matter, even with my eye.
It was the second time dealing with cancer since my first as an infant. While it was my second tumor, it was my first time experiencing not only cancer, but a major surgery. As an infant I actually went through both, Retinoblastoma and the surgical removal of my left eye. While many people commend children for their strength when dealing with illness, it’s my opinion that it’s more of a struggle for the parent. (Speaking from experience) This is why I call my second tumor my first true experience with cancer
Similarly, dealing with illness as an adult has it’s challenges, but more than often there are others involved in the experience who are coping with the multitude of emotions brought on from watching a loved one in pain.
I’ll never forget the reaction to hearing the doctor say "You have a mass behind your eye…It’s very serious, potentially life threatening." I’ll never forget the look on his face when he said I may have to lose the eye- telling me I would live the rest of my life blind. I wondered how my wife would react. What affect would it have on my mother who has experienced the loss of two children, a husband, my first eye. Would my girls still love their Daddy?
On this anniversary or my re-birthday I think about the ladies in my life who helped me so very much on this very day five years ago.
Strangely enough, it’s much easier to write this than it is to talk about it, but the feelings are genuine.
“Ain’t no mountain high enough!”
Lots of people can say they will always be there when you need them, but only a few will actually follow through.
Not knowing what to do, but knowing she had to be there, my sister took the time from her family and job to come to PA from MD to drive my wife and I to New York for the surgery. Twice! She stayed in NYC with my wife during my 8 day stay in the hospital.
Can’t tell you how much that meant to me. Well, hopefully I just did!
"I’ll always love my Mama.."
If you’re not familiar with this Mother’s Day standard song by the Intruders – check the link.
My mom taught me something that is so incredibly valuable – you can truly make something good from a bad situation. When it comes to memories of Retinoblastoma and hospital visits and stays as a child, I have nothing but good memories. EUA’s, (Exams Under Anesthesia) I’ve heard leave children fearful of doctors and bring up thoughts of burning eye drops and fights with nurses trying to give you just "1 more set of drops."
Mom made it fun! I knew I was in for a treat once we left. Hot dogs, the best (Dirty water dogs from a NYC vendor) , soft hot pretzels and Yoo Hoo.
It wasn’t just the food, Mom just has a way of making you feel everything will really be ok. Even when I didn’t understand the ever present saying, "Just leave it up to God."
I get it now, I really do!
"Ain’t no woman like the one I got"
On more than a few occasions people have commented that my wife must be an amazing woman. Honestly, I took offense. Not because I disagree, but rather there is an assumption that because her husband is blind, she must be exceptional for staying with him.
She is amazing because she, unknown to her, knows how to handle and manage change. Roll with the punches. Step up when necessary and for a macho guy like me, step back and trust in her man to take care of business. She’ll do what needs to be done for her man. She did, and she does.
My Dad used to say, "Don’t get yourself no scrawny chick." By scrawny I don’t think he was just referring to the little petite woman who looks as though when you touch her she will break. He was referring to a woman who is mentally and emotionally tough while at the same time 100 percent true woman.
Hey Dad, I found that girl.
She’s what we call a Ride or Die Chick. She’s priceless and I know it.
Thank you ladies. And my very exciting girls.
(Need help on the song reference? – Check out Ray, Goodman and Brown…)
Thursday, November 6th, 2008
On Wednesday morning, the mood in the Reid house was probably similar to many households across the country. Positive, proud and overflowing with potential.
Every morning when the girls get up for school, I try to send them out ready for the world. I use music that sends either a positive message or has a feel good vibe. For this historic day I had to go with “Feelin’ Good” by Nina Simone. It begins…
Birds flyin’ high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by you know how I feel
Its a new dawn, its a new day, its a new life for me
yeah, its a new dawn its a new day its a new life for me ooooooooh
AND I’M FEELING GOOD
There’s a lot of talk about the impact that our new president will have on young children of African descent. They can now really believe when their parents say things like you can be anything you want in this world.
My 4 year old daughter, as she prepared to leave for Kindergarten asked me if I knew who she was. Not really understanding what she meant, I called out her name. With such pride and confidence she yells out, “I’m Obama!”
Yes, she is.
And to all our children, you are too!
Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008
According to this article, Allan Kieta who is Blind had to "open up a can of Wup Ass" on a suspected burgler.
While restraining the suspect and trying to call 911, Kieta said…
"He was begging, like, ‘Don’t kill me. I’ll dial it for you.’," Kieta said. "I was, like, ‘You are not touching the phone’."
File this one under Self-Advocacy!
Read the article here…