‘The corner of the block was my father’

“I am your son / A male raised in a manless home / My mother was my father…The radio was my father…Television was my father…The corner of the block was my father…” My friend Bill Stephney of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in New Jersey recently introduced me to Be a Father to Your Child: Real Talk from Black Men on Family, Love, and Fatherhood, a book by and about black fathers. In addition to analytical material, the book presents personal, anecdotal pieces — including poems and lyrics, short stories,
and interviews — that form a powerful composite portrait of the challenges facing black fathers. In the painful excerpt below,  artist Saddi Khali discusses growing up fatherless. “Your Son’ By Saddi Khali I am your son A male raised in a manless home My mother was my father The story of my childhood is a torn piece of cloth My memories dangle like string The radio was my father Songs divorced from love separated from life were my relationship blueprints I became a dj in a crowded club of girls Makin short skirts & halters dance to a hit song called “We don”t love them hoes’ I am alone, now No one told me I could change the station I am your son A male raised in a manless home Television was my father “calling all cars, calling all cars’ “mr. mcgee, don”t make me angry you wouldn”t like me when I”m angry’ “ok, u wanna go to war? I”ll take u to war’ I fought my whole life like life depended on it Fighting is all I really know how to do The corner of the block was my father Where young men w/ Battle-scarred schemes & caviar dreams get thrown to the pavement like dice I am your son A male raised in a manless home I was my own father Taking manhood ingredients From my mother, the radio, the tv, the corner I am the gumbo of what I”ve seen For anyone who wonders if I will ever raise a child into a man tell them, I already have Khali can be reached at To learn more about the book, go to To order it, click here. Proceeds from book sales are dedicated to the “Black men and Boys initiative” at the Twenty-first Century Foundation.

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