So yesterday I arrived in Los Angeles. I stepped off the plane and the weather was amazing, exactly what I’d always heard it would be. Check. At the rental car shop, where the dealer scammed me into a full size Nissan with the push-button start, A woman walked in who was as beautiful as anyone I’d ever seen in real life ..or tv. Check. My first stop was Venice beach, where the first thing I saw were sandwich boards advertising for Medical Marijuana doctors. Check. So LA is exactly what I expected it to be = cool as a polar bear’s toenail.
But, what really blew my mind had nothing to do with the natural resources, nothing to do with the caliber of women. [Although Helen of Troy may have hailed originally from LA. Nefertiti at least had family in the area].
The coolest thing I saw was when I got the opportunity to hook up with my mentor’s cousin Mr. Green. I went to a networking event they were hosting at USC and met up with him and his son. Now let me first describe Mr. Green. He’s a short man, smart as a whip, brutally honest, and 100% committed to helping the younger generation of minorities get a leg up on life. Picture Russell Simmons in a suit and tie. Now while he was impressive, what was really impressive was his son. Or..I’m not quite sure how to say it..it was more that I could see the seeds that he had planted in his son’s life and what great fruit it was on its way bearing. I couldn’t help but be in awe of the power that a dedicated father has on his son’s life.
He son, legit, reminded me of Tiger Woods. He was focused, articulate, confident and..hold on, i think I need to expand on what type of confidence this was. There are different types of confidence. Some confidence is bravado, some is fear-driven, and some [the strongest] is hard-earned through time building a skill and/or being tested and refined. Most of us (and I’m speaking primarily for African-American men) have to get the third type via alot of struggle, mistakes, and wasted time. Huge amounts of wasted time. Heartache..and even more wasted time. However, this young man had a confidence passed down to him from his father. From hours of watching his father navigate the halls of power, years learning how to create the life you want, decades learning what the definition of what a man is.
For most of us this knowledge comes only after years of trying out different definitions of manhood – is it the absence of fear? Recklessness? Is it being smart? Being strong? Being with many women? One woman? Is it having alot of kids?
If your verrrrry lucky you don’t get stuck in any one definition before you find the true definition and what works for you. But very lucky is rare. Some of us die while were discovering that a gun doesn’t make you a man. Some of us lose the ability to grow further because we don’t take advantage of educational opportunities because no one told us that being smart didn’t make you less masculine. There are a million different pot holes that can slow down or stop a black man in America.
I can only imagine how much farther we’d all be along if we had father’s who knew how the system works and were able to pass the skills needed along to us.
This made it even more important for me to do a couple things.
1. Learn how the world works and what it takes to succeed.
2. Pass on this knowledge to my son, daughters, and as many other minorities as possible.
In my head as I’m writing this, for some reason, I hear like a tea party member screaming from the bleachers – “isn’t that racist? Why the focus on minorities?”
Which is another totally unrelated post, but my short response back to this tea party person in my head (besides what are you doing in my head?) is I’m not sure people who haven’t been in the position of minorities can really appreciate just how murky and imposing certain institutions/corporate America can be for us. Without someone to guide us, people tend to take the paths of less resistance. These are the well worn paths of sports, entertainment, and if there is no strong moral vision for a household – illegal activities. Most of these paths will, in the end, leave us unable to really create the lives that are the best use of our talents, intelligence, and passion.
Never missing an opportunity to quote Jay-z: “Took me 26 years to find my path/ My only job is to cut the time in half”
A special prayer of thanks to all the fathers, teachers, mentors out there.
Fly or Fall.