Magazine article Ebony

Are You a Dead Man Walking?

Magazine article Ebony

Are You a Dead Man Walking?

Article excerpt

THE audience howled during most of a Chris Rock concert that I attended recently, especially during one part of the show when the comedian reeled off joke after joke about the trials and tribulations of fatherhood. "When you become a father, your life is over" he said as he talked about his experiences as a new daddy. "When you're a father, you're like a dead man walking. You may still be breathing. But you're dead."

He proceeded to say how a father always takes a backseat to his family, how a father's wants and needs are always low on the priority totem pole and how a father goes through life in a sort of "daddy daze," having learned that his life belongs to everyone but him.

I have to admit that the Brother is funny. My sides will attest to that. In fact, I was still laughing as my wife and I drove home from the concert (in a mad dash to pick up our two daughters from the babysitter)--that is until I began to think about what Rock had said. "Hey, wait a minute," I said as I clutched the steering wheel in disbelief. "He was talking about me. Am I a dead man walking?" "He wasn't talking about you," my wife said. "He's a comedian. Those were just jokes."

Well, if those were just jokes, I thought to myself, then why did much of what he said ring true? Why is this the first time in months that I've been out without the kids? If I'm not dead, then why am I rushing home right now? Any man full of life would be going to some wild after-party. Maybe I am a dead man walking. Maybe I am a father so buried by my patriarchal title that I've lost my true identity. What about you? Are you dead?

Are you a father lost in the shuffle, surrounded by unfulfilled dreams and unmet goals? Are you a father who never has the time, the energy, the money to do the things you used to do, or always said that you wanted to do?

Just like Black mothers, Black fathers also put their wants and needs on the backburner when they become parents. …

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