We Get It From Our Papa [The Love Below Series]

Jose Vilson Jose

This is the third post on love, commemorating that yearly event that happens on the 14th. Today, I’ll get a little into my own background without saying too much. I’ll try not to get too deep into family, but I’ll give a little context for the ideas I’m laying out. I hope to represent these ideas accurately.

Black Father, Son, Shaving

Black Father, Son, Shaving

As a child, I often admired my father: a goateed, handsome Black man with a raspy voice, and a charisma unmatched by any man I’ve met since. It’s funny how so many people consider their fathers the most charming man they’ve ever met. Yet, I wasn’t alone. My father’s expeditions from Haiti to Florida to New York and back around again left many women longing for more than what he could offer. Even into his 50s, he still has that spark in his eye, a qualifier for the lifestyle he (used to) live. However, his wanton ways left reverberations for the many children he left to some of the women he impregnated and left with no promises.

In the book Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters? by Alan S. Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa, Kanazawa explains that men are supposed to have as many children as possible because, according to evolutionary theory, they benefit from having their genes spread as far and wide as possible. On the other hand, women usually won’t have too many children because there’s only so many children a woman can have (on average, 25) and, thus, they have more investment in the child they have as they get older because of that cap.

Of course, Kanazawa doesn’t go into what is or what should be. Because, while as an adult, I understand the biological reasons for what men (and women) do at times, I had a really hard time reconciling with the idea of not having a father. My mother, as could be expected, did her best to provide for me, but as I now see with my own students, I also see how a reliable male presence in my life may have in my own upbringing. Seeing all these other faces, whom all looked familiar, but nonetheless were born of other women, irritated me because, as the ghetto so environmentally pronounces, I was a reject even without having actually done anything to be rejected.

And of course, it only got worse when it came to how I learned about the opposite sex. Frankly, I wasn’t quite as versed in the ways of cavorting / flirting as I am now. He wasn’t there for that. I still haven’t learned how to drive a car. He wasn’t there for that. I spent most of my conscious life in fear of my life with a man who had no real investment in my life, and taught me that beating on anyone who angered me was appropriate, and I had the unprovoked welts and mental scars to prove it. My father wasn’t there for that. And I suspect that all my siblings in one form or another had similar hardships.

My mother always told me to love my father. And when I went to visit him when he was on his last breath, I felt the love emanate from all my siblings. From those who adored and looked up to him only to try and grab his attention in the most not-so-subtle ways to those of us who downgraded him to strands of human code, we felt love was the only thing to feel. Since then, those feelings of bitterness and resentment turned to a weird sympathy, respect, and love.

And it’s easy for me to sit here and discuss his failings, but if not for his absence, I may not have had the life I do now, where it’s precisely the lack of a male influence that’s kept me in the “industry” I’m in. It made me want to make my own family. It made me want better for myself. It made me. Plus, I can’t say what would have happened if he did stay. Part of me believes that many of his genes definitely carried through all of us, but another part of me believes I can rebell against that behavior. A huge part of me would like to see love last a long time, and unconditionally.

I’d like to follow that trend someday; I’ve never seen it before.

Jose, who is working on it …