Early Foundations, Books, and Parenthood
Books filled my childhood. With my father's work as a church pastor, he maintained a home office with volumes of books on religion and leadership. I remember most mornings began with the sight of my mother reading at our kitchen table. My sisters were also avid readers. It was very clear from a young age that learning was an action my family valued.
When it came time for me to begin my family, I also carried the tradition of reading and filling my home with books. Similar, to my father I have a home office with books ranging from history to wellness activities. Before bed, my wife and I read to our children. We emphasize that they must exercise their brains, complete their homework, or do something creative before turning on the television.
I want my three little ones to appreciate the simplicity of learning through reading and discovering opportunities for application in their environments.
My children often complain about the rule to keep the television off until they’ve read, drawn a picture, or finished a school assignment, but it’s important that they value the learning opportunities that books can provide. While television and online resources offer educational programs and activities, I want my three little ones to appreciate the simplicity of learning through reading and discovering opportunities for application in their environments. It was my parents who instilled in my five sisters and me to be grateful for resources that make you think.
On May 18th, my first book Critical Race and Education for Black Males: From Pretty Boy to Man, was released! It was thrilling to search my name on Amazon and see this project that has taken almost three years to publish available for sale. When I began writing the book, I had no idea that it would push me to grow as it did and I did not know that I would move to Mexico to bring it to fruition.
Throughout the book, I discuss my experiences growing up between Chicago's Southside and the south suburbs. I explain my experiences with racism, gender, masculinity and the challenges that came with developing positive self-awareness. Similar to the material that is part of my column at The Good Men Project*, my book is consistent with content that encourages young men to reach their full potential. It uses a theoretical framework called critical race theory to inform the autobiographical narratives of each chapter.
In the book, I provide details of how rules like the “no homework before television” rule shaped my approaches to school. I also explore how my identity as a Black boy influenced the behaviors I decided to perform while spending time with my friends. Despite earning a Ph.D., I was not always a model student. In my efforts to prove self-worth I fought my peers and resisted school policies that I believed were not justified.
While my entire family valued education, I did not always see myself in the curriculum and feel connected to the schools I attended. My lack of excitement about school during some grades led to suspensions, detentions, and far too many teachers who called my home to speak with my parents. In my senior year of high school, I began to change after a counselor made some comments to me about not having the ability to be successful at a university.
Through my father’s consistent effort to expand his knowledge through reading, I witnessed a man value the process of learning.
One of the factors that influenced me to finish college and proceed to earn a graduate degree was my father. Through my father’s consistent effort to expand his knowledge through reading, I witnessed a man value the process of learning. The teachings he provided with my mother’s partnership helped me to become the father I am today.
With my children, I pass the love of reading to them that my parents instilled in me. Through, my first book I also give them the opportunity to value writing and their family’s history.
Interested in learning more about the experiences that shaped me to become the person I am today? Purchase my first book at this link!
* A previous version of this post can be found on my column at The Good Men Project