I have started reflecting on the fact that my father grew up in the South, in a very poor family.He came of age during the Depression and his own father, who struggled to feed his children,showed little affection towards his family and raised my father and his siblings with an iron fist.Who could have imagined what it was like to grow up a poor black man in the South, robbed of dignity, bereft of hope, struggling to become a man in a world that saw my father as subordinate. I was the first black artist to be played on MTV and I remember how big a deal it was even then. And that was in the 80s!
My father moved to Indiana and had a large family of his own, working long hours in the steel mills, work that kills the lungs and humbles the spirit, all to support his family. Is it any wonder that he found it difficult to expose his feelings? Is it any mystery that he hardened his heart,that he raised the emotional ramparts? And most of all, is it any wonder why he pushed his sons so hard to succeed as performers, so that they could be saved from what he knew to be a life of indignity and poverty?
I have begun to see that even my father's harshness was a kind of love, an imperfect love, tobe sure, but love nonetheless. He pushed me because he loved me. Because he wanted no man ever to look down at his offspring.