Racial disparities can be addressed by involved fathers

Booker H.I.TThe HIT is back!

I have been busy completing my dissertation, and in May I will become the first police officer of color in the state of Minnesota to earn a doctorate. The process has taken me eight years and I am very happy with how everything turned out, but I will discuss that in later columns.

I will use this column to discuss the importance of being a father to your kids. With all the madness going on around the country and locally involving the image of African American males, I just feel its time to get back to the basics.

All these issues surrounding African American males can almost all be traced back to the lack of commitment to family. 247WallSt.com recently rated Minnesota as the second worst state in the country for African Americans. We earned this rating in part because we have high incarceration and unemployment rates in relation to other states.

We also earn less than half of what our White counterparts earn in regards to income. Almost 10 percent of us were not able to vote in the last election due to felony convictions. I would argue that all these racial disparities could be eradicated if we as men would be fathers to our children.

I have two sons, and being a father is a blast. Is it hard sometimes? Am I tired all the time? Do I get frustrated sometimes? Absolutely! But I would not trade it for anything in the world.

I could not imagine having my sons growing up without me in their lives. After having kids I became more dismayed at how someone could not take care of their kids. We as a community must make it socially unacceptable to be a deadbeat dad. We allow absentee fathers to be community leaders and pastors. If this were eight years ago I would list them, but I have matured and I am sure these people know who they are, as do their children.

Just imagine what it would be like if these deadbeat dads showed up at community meetings trying to present themselves as a leader and they were shunned? I can tell you what would happen; it would send a powerful message that the standards of our community require men to be fathers to their children. Instead of shunning them, we embrace them as they arrive to community gatherings in high-end vehicles that cost more than their child support arrears.

Having two sons brought me closer to God. My dad told me once that I would not know the true love of Jesus until I had a son, and I can tell you that he was right. Having this thought in mind I find myself laughing a lot at my boys, particularly when they cry about not getting something they want fast enough.

I look at them and wonder why they are crying or whining when I have what they want and intend to give it to them — just not when they want it. I think God does the same thing with us. I never fully understood this until I had a child.

I know that a lot of us don’t know how to be a father, but I hate to break it to you — no one does. My dad was not the perfect dad but he was the perfect dad for me. He had many shortcomings, as I am sure my boys will say about me when they grow up.

I say that to say you can be the best father for your kids if you are there for them and you try your best. None of us are perfect, nor should we expect to be. We need to be there for our kid’s period.

We need to get back to the basics. Having strong families is the foundation of any thriving community. So brothas, take care of your kids.

I know this column is not typical of what I used to write, but I felt strongly that the message in this column needed to be conveyed. We need to get back on track. I just see the detrimental effects that not having a father in the household has on young men’s lives and felt something needed to be said about it.

In the next column we will get back to our usual HIT genre. We have conducted an extensive investigation into Community Action of Minneapolis and what we found may surprise you.

The information reported in the mainstream media was the tip of the iceberg. They reported on low-hanging fruit and failed to mention those who had benefitted for years from Community Action.

Can you say trips to Caribbean? I guess if you’re going to help people with heating assistance you need to know what heat feels like in the winter, right?

Booker T Hodges welcomes reader responses to bhodges@spokesman-recorder.com.