I was always in my Pops orbit as the middle child.
If I did some fucked up shit and I certainly did a lot of that – he’d sit me down and rant…
There would be these long discourses about the importance of home; setting an example; looking out for family and without fail his soliloquies were always littered with a heavy servings of his signature word.
My Father could weave the word Youngblood into anything and make it work.
(In retrospect he was dropping some heavy shit, accordingly those words guide my steps to this day)
I was on the receiving end of so many these that I could finish his sentences, but I didn’t dare, opting for silence while his words were burned into my brain:
“Don’t expect no applause line for doing what you are supposed to do Youngblood.”
“Sometimes we all have to learn the hard way Youngblood.”
“There is nothing more important than Family!”
“If you listen to me Youngblood, you’ll go a long way!”Outtakes from assorted Youngblood soliloquies.
One of the most enduring memories of my Father wasn’t in a form of a speech – but it was something minor, I guess…
I never saw my Father cry.
Except for this one time…
I was this omnipresent discipline problem in school – from the 5th grade until the the latter part of my sophomore year of high school I always found myself in the bad graces of the teachers – me being suspended was a routine occurrence – only to find out years later that the problem didn’t lie with me…
According to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Black students in K-12 schools are far more likely to be disciplined than their counterparts.Fight for our little Black boys, my parents did.
I was fresh off of my latest suspension and after hearing the dire grumblings about my future prospects from a cadre of teachers – I came up with this crazy idea to endear myself to my Father – which entailed talking my way onto the High School newspaper.
Eventually I got something that I wrote published and when I showed him – I noticed that his eyes were welling up with tears and I was taken aback.
“I always knew you would come back to these words Youngblood…”
And he swallowed me up in a big hug, I didn’t get it at the time, but I remember thinking:
“Man… This dude is tripping.”Thoughts from the 16 year old me.
However, it was the hold that words always held on my Father that rekindled something that had went dark inside of me which was why I saw the school newspaper as my path towards redemption.
This was significant, because it marked the closest approach to accepting the proposition that I would be an ignominious statistic – a Black Boy lost.
And I decided to take the opposite route.