To Be Or Not To Be

Shakespeare once s060cd46a4a10164667b6ef2e95bc786aaid to be or not to be,
so to be or not to be great is a struggle we face every day as the sun rises.
We are faced with decisions, roadblocks, or our environment that can have an impact on our path to greatness, whether positive or negative.
To be or not to be a great father is a choice we make. The results cannot be concluded until our little ones become Kings and Queens.

It’s tough growing up in a society in which they decide what should you be or not be.
Never once has it occurred to them that I am who I am.
Even if my dreams fail I will still rise up again,
because I am a father and there is people that depend on me.
To be a dad is to be a warrior in this society, because we fight endless battles to get the honor that we are due, and destroy the negative stigmas that follow us to our death.

To be a leader for our children displays courage, determination, and loyalty.
We wage war on the negative teachings of society and we teach our kids not to be followers, but to be respectful, to be innovators, to be daring, but most of all to be educated.

Not to be a coward is a decision I made when my daughter was born and held my finger tight. The day I understood the best way to provide is to obtain my High School Equivalency Diploma, and enroll into college. When it wasn’t about me anymore but about them. That it did not matter who I am, but about who they want to be. As a father you lay your life down so that your children can live theirs. We make sacrifices that go unnoticed. We help create legends, sometimes by simply just being in the picture. We embrace fatherhood, so that they may embrace life to its fullest.
For the sake of love we kneel, so that they can rise and feel tall in a world full of opportunities.

To be or not to be, to be or not to be is a fight within me, every day constantly.
So many obstacles to overcome, so many sleepless nights to withstand, but when we look into their eyes the problems become small. They provide us with the joy we need to carry on. Their smile keeps us strong, their laugh helps us move mountains.

To the moon and back, they say fathers go beyond that for their little ones. We just hope to live to see the day when they reach their teens, when they wear their cap and gowns, and get ready to tackle their dreams.
We hope to live to see the day when our little one has little ones.

To be or not to be a great dad is a choice we make,
and cannot be concluded until our little ones become Kings and Queens.

Jorge Perez is a contributing writer to the Fatherhood Chronicles and will have a monthly column entitled “Jorge’s Corner. He is an alum of the CUNY Fatherhood Academy and currently is in school at City Tech College in Brooklyn pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Human Services.      Jorge is a proud father of two daughters.

Advertisements

Superstars

6c31cb7d4a72d9acde459aab3cf9cfe4Ever wonder how NBA players manage to play 82 games in a season, managing to leave their family behind and travel across the states, practicing and working out everyday? We may assume it’s obviously for the money, the love for the game, striving for greatness, or to be labeled a superstar. The one thing I know for certain is players like Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, LeBron James, and many other NBA players are proud to be fathers. They cherish the moments when their kids become the spotlight during an interview, or watching theirs kids play at their own respective basketball game. No matter how much money they make or endorsements they have, those moments are priceless.

Allen Iverson was viewed as a gangster of the NBA, labeled an NBA thug because of his cornrows, and people he chose to hang around with, but what they never mentioned was Allen Iverson as a proud father. On the court he played his heart out, at home he showed endless love with all of his heart. If we follow by example the same work ethic these athletes put into their training and craft, and apply that same motivation into our jobs, education, and making better decisions, we will always and forever be great fathers.

I know I did not win something as valuable as an NBA ring , but in my eyes I won something better–a second chance. The CUNY Fatherhood Academy helped me obtain a High School Equivalency Diploma, which led me to the position I am in today, and that is 1 year and half away from graduating with a Bachelor’s in Human Services at New York City College of Technology. I am now on a path to provide a better future for my two daughters.

Being a father is better than shooting a buzzer beater to win a game. A father represents leadership, stability, love, and so much more. Our presence in our children’s lives presents comfort, encouragement, and most of all support. There are times in which some situations may seem like there is no hope, the struggle is too real, or the adjustment to fatherhood may be complicated, but we have to remind ourselves at the end of the tunnel there will be light. We understand that we are not perfect by any means, it’s just like how people talk bad about my New York Knicks, but I am still a fan and I still root for them. The same applies with our kids, they are our fans through thick and thin, and they cheer us on as we strive for greatness.

lebron-james-and-his-sons-lj-and-bryce

We might not be making millions and scoring 30 points a night, or be an all-world player like LeBron James, but one thing we have in common with LeBron James, is as fathers we make sacrifices so that we may become better role models, because in the eyes of our children we are the true superstars.

Jorge Perez is a contributing writer to the Fatherhood Chronicles and will have a monthly column entitled “Jorge’s Corner. He is an alum of the CUNY Fatherhood Academy and currently is in school at City Tech College in Brooklyn pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Human Services.      Jorge is a proud father of two daughters.

Born Again (Part 1)

IMG_0001
24 year old CUNY Fatherhood Academy Graduate Temir Evans.

In the next two months my life is going to change forever. My baby girl is going to be here and just the thought of my daughter’s birth will represent a rebirth for myself as well. It puts a big smile on my face and words can’t express how I feel at times. I’m anxious, other days I’m nervous and most days I’m excited. She will be given her name in October and I will be given a new name myself, Dad.

Being a young father is a serious duty, I am an uncle to multiple children so therefore I’ve analyzed what my brothers have been going through throughout the growth of raising their children. There are some good days, some down days but they never gave up and that’s what makes them the strong fathers they turned out to be thus far.

My girlfriend and I have been together for two years now, she’s the mother of my child and we’re both each other’s support system. With her on my team, I feel like I can accomplish anything. We have a mutual level of respect for each other. This allows us to communicate our thoughts in a positive manner even if we don’t agree all the time.

Keeping the family together is the major thing I’ve seen couples that don’t get along after the baby is born have to deal with. Issues such as men being put on child support, single parenting and bad communication among each other are some factors that can contribute to not keeping the family together. So being around this repeatedly has motivated me as a soon to be father to be different about the situation and also made me the person I am today. That person is responsible, caring, hopeful and trying to set the right examples in the future.

Being a part of the Fatherhood Academy is a blessing. Not only do they help you further your education and give you advice and tips for your parenting, they also teach you how to be a responsible individual as you grow. I have an older brother that attended the Fatherhood Program four years ago. Around that time, I was a full time employee working 40 plus hours each week in order to survive. My responsibilities included maintaining income to keep a roof over my head, keeping clothes on my back, and keeping up with my cellphone and credit card bills with no help. It felt good being responsible and taking care of my priorities but in the midst of my responsibilities, there was one main responsibility that was missing and that was my education. Dropping out of school was my biggest regret. I was under a lot of pressure, dealing with family problems and trying to keep up with my grades. There was no motivation on my side to keep me going, as I started to fall off and doubt myself on everything. This led to my downfall of continuing school. I was blind to the fact that I was working, making ten to eleven dollars per hour punching the clock from day to night without a high school diploma.

I deserved more. My daughter deserves more. In a few days I will be taking my TASC exam for the first time. Words can’t express how I feel  and all the mixed emotions that are running through me mostly a feeling of anxiousness. The fear of failing has always hovered over me. It’s basically like a storm, a storm that you can’t escape. These are things that run through my mind as my exam approaches. My hope is to finally end this storm by passing this test and experiencing a new rebirth. I guess you can say I would be Born Again.

Editor’s Note: Temir and his girlfriend gave birth to a healthy beautiful baby girl named Zuri in October. This is Part 1 of a 3 part series where Temir will write about his experiences pre and post fatherhood. 

Native Son Revisited

fatherhood pic3

One of my favorite books I read growing up was the classic Richard Wright novel Native Son. It spoke to the social complexities and injustices that young black men have been experiencing for centuries. It also brought about the conversation of a very important systematic concept known as “Cycle of Despair.”  This chronicled the plight of the inner city black man as he seeks to do better for his family.

Today’s media paints an all to common narrative of minority fathers not being part of their children’s lives and not seeking guidance and help along the way to make for a better living. Now depending on who you ask, statistics can either back up this claim or provide deeper insights into the mitigating factors that contribute to this narrative.

The young men in the Fatherhood Academy are on a special journey. This journey will take them on many valleys and peaks but along the way they will experience growth mentally, emotionally and spiritually. You see many of our young men have heard all the misconceptions and mass fallacies that society has depicted them as: deadbeats, immature, irresponsible, misogynist, selfish and unavailable to name a few. These terms are strikingly harsh to someone who wears the crown of Father, and plays a pivotal part in how they  view themselves in the real world.

The main character of Native Son, Bigger Thomas represents a young man who is a product of all the wrong that has confounded him since birth. In the only mention of Bigger’s father in the novel, we found out he was murdered during a race riot. This was purposely illustrated by Wright as a means to show one of the many ways that black fathers were becoming missing links in their children’s lives by various means. This program serves to erase that narrative.

For 3 days in a week, these young men walk through our doors motivated, hungry and focused on being the pillars for their family. For some, their past transgressions no longer serve as an excuse to run away from their responsibilities as a father. The Academy urges them to face their deepest fear(s) and channel all of their negative and positive energy for a greater good and purpose.

The second piece to consider here, is when they all undoubtedly realize their potential. This serves as the perfect backdrop to their journey  as they continue to learn more academically in the classroom. What once seemed like an unattainable feat, now is within their grasp. The trajectory of their life aspirations now appears to be trending upwards as they continue to build confidence in their abilities as not only a scholar but as a father. The program taps into all the essential aspects of what fatherhood is. But the key is the education that starts to take place outside of the classroom, which in turns become vital fixtures in their overall development. The emotional and mental growth that is experienced, allow our fathers to soar high and take flight seeking new heights and endeavors.

In order for our fathers to truly be successful and take something from the program, they must accept their fate. In reality they are here in this program to make for a better tomorrow for themselves, their child(ren) and their families. If you take it a step further they will now serve as living examples for their communities of how change is in fact plausible and attainable. The fate of our young fathers  in societal eyes has been predetermined. They get to rewrite their script here in the literal and figurative context.

I always felt that there was a Bigger Thomas that lived in us all. As flawed as he was as a character and reckless in his decision making, there was always an underlying desire to overcome the stereotypes and put to bed the “narrative” that has been prewritten for us. Though our students do not go to the extreme lengths of inflicting their rage as Bigger did in the novel, they have to deal with their inner struggles in their own unique way and that at times can become daunting. The parallel is drawn here where we see that the three themes of the novel: Fear, Flight and Fate are a direct correlation to how our young fathers approach life and embrace the next steps of responsible parenting.

By introducing this blog, we will give these young men a social platform where they can share their raw emotions to the general masses but in a way that has not been heard before. The Fatherhood Chronicles will gain many believers and followers who will put aside preconceived notions and judgments and develop a newfound appreciation and understanding of what our fathers are going through. The hope is that we will spark many other young fathers nationally to share their stories and experiences and in turn change the narrative for once and for all, that fatherhood is a lost cause in the 21st century.

So sit back and open your minds and hearts. Enter our young fathers’ world for once and see things the way they see it. We formally welcome you to the Fatherhood Chronicles.

Peace and Blessings,

Jamie Corrodus

Managing Editor of The Fatherhood Chronicles