Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Talk with my Dad

37 years later, I finally meet my dad…

Just Doug
It was a cold wet night and this guy walked up on me, ordinarily my senses kick in, my paranoia, causes me to get upset when someone invades my space, my boundary, steps inside my circle, but I didn’t because I knew him, I recognized him, and though, he called himself Andy, I knew him as dad, naw, not my dad, he didn’t do his job, so this chump gets no respect, no honorary title, he doesn’t even get a prefix of Mr.,  he just gets  Doug.
As I listened to him talk I couldn’t help but to get mad, become angry, didn’t really want to hear what he had to say.  As hard as it was I kept listening, forcing myself, to hear what he felt was important to roll up on me with.  I don’t know how we ended up in my room, but my baby girl was behind him, and I told him to watch his mouth. He thought I was being nasty but I told him my daughter was behind him. I said it with a tone and venom that echoed, hold up chump I’m being a daddy to my kids.

Something He Wouldn’t Know About

He wanted to talk and I could see the words were hard for him, but hell this was hard for me. We talked and talked. While
we talked my oldest daughter came in the room saying something about some sausage and gravy I was like yea girl fix you whatever, she’s picky like that, but that’s cool because she’s her own person. Molded and shaped, and I had a lot to do with that, something this chump in front of me didn’t know about.
Doug and I left my place and went for a walk. We ended up at one of the nice hotels, I guess we went there to get some coffee or something. While we were there I seen a black family come through the hallways, and for some reason security was on them because the dad was rough housing with his children and kicking and throwing a ball around with his kids. I seen security tell him to tone it down, geez let this family enjoy their time together… let those kids enjoy their dad, and the mom revel in the fact she’s not doing it alone.

No Respect
Back to this joker standing before me, I don’t know why, but it was hard for me to respect this guy. He was telling me life was hard, and that he was excited when I was born, but he was in the streets. He said he wanted to live with us, but mom wouldn’t let him because of his lifestyle and that’s when it happened the internal ground swell of rage inside of me was beginning to erupt. I was about to blow up with this guy talking all this nonsense, especially about mom, my deceased mom, my mom that couldn’t defend herself. I’m sure it was evident to him, I’ve never been one to hide my emotions, I’m told I wear them on my sleeve, so I’m sure he seen it in my face. My anger, my frustration, Majestyk (my alter ego), saying Nigga please.
Something he said caused me to jump in his face, and I’m sure everyone around was scared but they knew what was going on because I yelled in his face, so close I was essentially head bunting the guy. Dude you ain’t never come around why should I listen to the dad I never had, who are you?
We left the hotel spot, and we were driving around, and as we were passing a school, I think it was Central, it happened. He said something about he got locked up, about how he couldn’t see me because he was doing time. He didn’t stop there, he went on to say my mother stopped him from being there for me. That’s when it happened, so I wouldn’t cry Majestyk (alter ego), hit him, naw, that’s putting it easy. To show the disrespect I had for this guy I gave him a couple of open handed b***** slaps to the face.
It’s on, Round 1 Ding!
He stopped the car and I jumped out thinking it was on, thinking he was going to get out, thinking he wanted a piece of me. He looked like me, you could tell he stayed in the gym like me, and on any other day he might even have a chance with me. Not today though, not with this adrenaline rush and 37 years of anger. He didn’t get out, he stayed in the car clenching the steering wheel. Probably thinking he wanted to get with me, but he knew better. Probably thinking how bad he screwed it up, wishing he had done some things different, but you reap what you sow. What he was getting is what he gave.
When I seen he wasn’t getting out, that’s when I yelled “take yo punk ass on, get ghost real quick.” I was hurt but Majestyk was itching to let him have it, wanted to run around the car to the driver side window and pull him out, but before he could Doug  drove off.
As I walked home I didn’t know how to feel, in one breath I was mad, angry, rageful, but in another I was sad, hurt, confused. The best way to sum it up is in the look of the people I was coming across, folks that looked at me and crossed the street, I’m talking about even the hardest looking brothers, who probably had chips on their shoulders, knew this wasn’t about them, and stepped accordingly. I was breathing hard not realizing the forehead was wrinkled, fist clenched, and I just looked mad as hell, or crazy.
What’s Going On? 
I was thinking about my life, thinking about a comment someone made on the social network site Facebook. On his page he wrote something about musical instruments and asked which one did we play, (his friends). I posted saxophone, but only because my band director said I had no rhythm. The guy’s page I was on, responded with something like “people have been telling you, you can’t do it your whole life.” That’s what I was thinking how could I have love for this guy, Doug, the father I never had (to be continued in Me vs Me, Vol 1: Being the Father I Never Had).
He was never there before my mom died to help celebrate life, but after my mom died he didn’t step in to give me
what I needed to develop. He wasn’t there when I would get into fights right after my mom died and I would go home and cry. He wasn’t there when I had questions a son only felt comfortable asking a dad. He wasn’t there when I tried to play little league sports but didn’t know what I was doing, so all the rage I felt was relayed when I hit people playing football. All the pain I endured poured out when I ran cross country. He wasn’t there when I would win awards for my drawings and creativity. He wasn’t there when I got in trouble at school like I always do, but not the times I was guilty and he should’ve put his foot in my ass, but the times I was innocent but guilty only because of my rep.
Walking is supposed to calm you, but today it was making me more and more upset. I thought I was going to explode, I was a walking time bomb, that’s when it happened…

…I woke up.
 I had to share this because it was so real, and for many of us, this is the closest we get to meeting our dad.

By Shawn Gardner

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Does Anybody Care?

Does anybody (black and who lives outside of west Louisville) care what happens to West Louisville? This is a question that I've been asking myself recently. I know there are several very committed neighborhood activist, but as whole do we care?

If you look around west Louisville, Smoketown, Newburgh, and Berrytown/Griffeytown the answer would be no. Our neighborhoods are in such disrepair that it's not even funny. Even worse is that our people are in worse shape, but nobody seems to be alarmed or upset. What has happened to us as a people?

What types of investments have we made in our communities to strengthen them? Look at Portland. Gill Holland and other young business men/women and buying properties in Portland for redevelopment as we speak. Even better than that is that young professionals are slowly moving back into Portland to help revitalize that historic neighborhood. Do you think that black folks will invest in their historic neighborhoods?

As we as a people continue our backward slide, we will only have ourselves to blame, because only we can pull ourselves up.