I was born in Philadelphia, West Philly to be exact. I developed a love of all things that defined Philly. The world seemed to revolve around this town. If you don't know by now, I am 40, so that makes me a child of the sixties, a teenager of the 70's, and a college student of the late 70's into the 80's, at Hampton University.
Among my role models, I include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Now, I know that may sound pretty textbook, but it's not an automatic choice for me. I had the privledge of listening to live broadcasts of his speeches, and watched his legacy unfold in the early part of my lifetime. Muhammad Ali, a fearless and proud black man and athlete, that "represented" in a way that still affects the image of American-Americans in the eyes of the world. And then there's Bill Cosby, who I can say, even without our mutual Philly roots, reminds me of my Dad every time I look at him. My Mom and Pop are my biggest role models also, and a couple of web pages couldn't begin to hold the amount of pride and respect I hold for them both. Without any flash and glamour, and with very little thanks, they did plain and simple things all their lives. They got up early in the morning, they went to work, they put food on the table and clothes on our backs. If that doesn't sound too remarkable, keep two things in mind: The most they ever made as a household is less than a third of my present personal income. And lest we forget, they spent most of their peak years as legally oppressed "Negroes" in the good ole USA, hindered by ole Jim Crow.
Without books, or modern day "timeout" psychology, my parents were sympathetic to us when we needed it, and applied heat to our asses when, after repeated warnings, we chose not to listen to what's best for us. Nothing dramatic, I can remember getting spanked as a child three times. It's amazing though, that after 30+ years I can STILL remember it! It was traumatic at the time, but something had to override the negative influences of inner-city life, something had to come through as a stronger incentive. My Dad's big callous, factory worker's hands coming down on my bony butt? To HELL with peer pressure!
I also lived and died many times as a Philly Sports fan. (Oh man !... I remember Harold Carmichael and Roman Gabriel on the Eagles!) The Flyers championships, and with the Sixers BBall team, Dr. J was my Air Jordan.
While I was a senior at Hampton U., Hip Hop dropped on us hard, and changed the face and the style of music. In my opinion, it is still at the forefront of our youth oriented popular culture in general. I still love the bass, the beat, and the rhyme, even though I am too old to take much stock in the lyrics as words from great philosophers. I stopped going to the clubs, because at some point, I became percieved as someone's Dad more than a fellow music lover. As Chris Rock says " ...you may not be a real old guy, you're just too old to be in the clubs...." But it's cool to have known the genre first hand from its birth. What's even more important, is that I am among those that can remember music without hip hop, and for me, it puts music in its proper perspective. I can't wait to see what 2000 brings.
I have been married 13 years this August to my Hampton sweetheart, and we are trying like a champ to make this baby thing happen. Funny how the time flies when you start out saying it's too early, let's wait until we are on our feet.... trying to be responsible. I can't accept that we may have "responsibled" ourselves out of parenthood. It's not for lack of knockin' boots (my ego made me say that), and if the lord doesn't have it in the cards for us, so be it. We are looking into adoption, and i am coping with my selfish feelings that doing so is a form of giving up. There are tons of kids that desperately need a home out there, and we could have had at least one benefiting from our stable home for the last 7 or so years. What ever happens, one thing is certain: In my wife, I am blessed with the love of an angel and eternally grateful for it.