“Deadbeat dads…

Deadbeat dads cost the American taxpayer a minimum of $38M/year. They cost their children so much more.

The Winehouse in Our Houses

I must admit to a fair amount of angst over the reaction to the loss of Amy Winehouse.

She had an awesome talent; her voice brought to life just a small part of the pain she obviously carried. When listening to a Winehouse CD, you’re transported to a jazz club where a sister simultaneously ministers and self-medicates with a shot glass in one hand, a mike in the other.

Her death (joining Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison in Club 27) reminds us that in the midst of fame or anonymity, wealth or poverty, ballin’ or project livin’, it’s all irrelevant when it comes to the plague that is drug and alcohol addiction.

People are quick to share their opinion that addiction is a deal-breaker, a non-conversation, a reason to get up and go. But how many of us have a brother, father, ex-husband, or friend with the same struggles as Ms. Winehouse?

Addictions tear marriages and families apart every day. The heroin scourge that tore through Harlem in the 1950s hit my family hard and the vestiges of that drama are still at play today. If I post that my Uncle Bubba died from a drug overdose, will you respond with an outpouring of concern or will you share a kind word while quietly wondering how “one of them” ended up in my family?

Families are hurting because of the shame and the stigma of addiction. Children act out in school, rather than share the root of the problem. Women go to work, holding on to their sanity by a wing and a prayer, in fear of revealing that the monster of addiction is wreaking havoc in their home.

The next time you hear of a brother struggling with addiction, say a prayer. Understand that his pain is no less tragic, his walk is no less painful to watch, his need for grace and mercy is no less warranted than that of any media celebrity.

Take a minute and look for the good in him, too.

Back to Where I Should Have Been

I’ll be honest. It’s been a while since I’ve been on the blog scene. Not a big confession, though, since the dates of the blog posts make it obvious that it has been a minute since I was on the scene.

Fatigue. Chasing the dollar in other places. Survival. Parenting – yup, I do that too. Church. School. All those things that pushed me away from where I should have been.

But I’m back.

And what sealed the deal was a workshop session I gave in Baltimore on April 16. Heal a Woman, Heal a Nation is a wonderful – no, make that tremendously vital – grassroots organization that deals with the real issues and questions facing women who are raising children alone.

By grassroots, I mean that the focus wasn’t a guest speaker who flew across the country to share knowledge – and we can always use that – but this conference had real “I drove in today” sisters, of all denominations and hues, talking about who they were, where they wanted to go, and how their success was so integral to the success of their children. Working-while-powerful people like me and you.

The conversations after a session always allow me to go home uplifted and encouraged. For some reason, though, as a sister talked about an ex-partner who kept taking her to court out of revenge, or a three-year old who had no relationship with his father while she wondered if that would be okay in the long run, or an older, very polished sister who said that successful single-parenting is possible but gee, it hurts…I realized three things.

Black men, black fathers, have a job to do that can be done by no one else. They can pass it off, they can fake it, they can ignore it, but to be done well it must be done by them.

Black women, black mothers, have a job to do to make black fathers welcome in the lives of their children. Fake it, yeah, chant, meditate, pray, hold back that tongue–whatever. Some brothers need that space and permission to do their job.

Lastly, I have to do the job I was given. Bills, students, a case of the it-doesn’t-fit-right, an attack of the is-anybody-listening, none of that matters. I have to do my job, and not where I want to be but where I should have been all along.

improving the dialogue between single mothers and absentee fathers. In support of their children. One word at a time.


Father’s Day…….Let’s Keep it Going

Father’s Day……..Father’s Day is always hard for families where Dad is absent. Or if we tell the truth, he might as well be absent. In some cases, folks are wishing he were absent. For the past week or so, I Tweeted a daily tip on how to look at Father’s Day from a different perspective, if that was what was needed to get you in the mall to help little Jaden or Jasmine get that gift for Daddy. The feedback from Twitter was good, and I wonder how many fathers are aware that their gift was a result of  a little bit of Twitter and a lot of prayer.

The new day is almost here, though, and Monday will eliminate the Father’s Day fervor and get us back to the everyday negotiations of life without Daddy.

Stay tuned……………we’re going to move you from Chaos to Communication and find the Good in Him. “Cause it isn’t about you, it’s about the children. It’s all about the kids.