It’s good to be writing you again as we begin to slip into almost everyone’s favorite season of the year, summer summer summertime!! Our programs are up and running, of course there always fixes to make, but I am confident we can fix them.
I’ve noticed as the weather heats up, so do issues, not only in Chicago, but around our nation. One of the recurring issues that often come up in my community and at my dinner table is the plight of youth and their relationships with their fathers, especially black children. Unfortunately there is a perception in this country that black men fail to be responsible for the children they father. This is a reflection from the days of slavery where black men, “studs,” were used to breed strong black slaves. Our country can be slow to change their perspectives.
As Father’s Day approaches, I want to do my part in shattering that myth. Here is an Ode to my dad.
Growing up in South Shore, my upper middle class family was considered “hood rich” because my parents’ total household income hovered around $100,000. My siblings and I never ever wanted for anything, we had the latest video game consoles and cartridges, all the hottest fashions, family vacations to the Dells and Disneyland, plenty of pocket change daily for snacks, and anything our little hearts desired. My parents dressed very well, my Dad business casual everyday as a computer programmer, and my Mom wore dresses mostly as a public school special education teacher. Both of my parents had cars, but of course Daddy was a little flashier with his Cadillac. I remember growing up you were the man in the black community if you had a Caddy, “sun roof top, diamond in the back, hitting on the scene with the gangsta lean!” were the lyrics to a popular soul song you could hear blasting from homes and car radios.
Although I grew up into sports, my Daddy and I never had that particular connection because he was an intellectual and not an athlete. When we would sit and talk, it wouldn’t be about the Sox or Bears (no diss Cubs), instead he would put me in front of his favorite globe, spin it, pick a country, and talk world events; or we would discuss domestic affairs happening, especially during the Regan era (no diss Republicans but it was bad for black folks).
My Daddy is a modest and humble man that grew up in the south in the 40’s and migrated with his family to the north during the 2nd Great Migration. Daddy grew up very poor with many siblings in one of Chicago’s housing projects, so he was determined to do better for himself and his family when he became a man. Oh boy did my Father do just that, he got his education and landed a great job with Standard Oil, being only one of two black men there corporately up until his retirement.
At the time I felt hurt that my Daddy didn’t come to my games, or teach me how to fight, or teach me how to romance a woman (boy did I learn all the wrong ways, Dana glad you put up with me!); but once I became a father things couldn’t be more crystal clear and words can’t express the appreciation and gratitude I have for my Daddy in the things he did teach me and how he reared me.
I am the man and father I am now because of Harold E. Dillon Sr., I reflect now and cherish those discussion we did have, or sitting up late night eating popcorn, and watching horror movies hosted by Svengoolie and cuddling under my Pops when I was scarred Frankenstein was gonna get me. Oh boy did I long for him letting me sneak a sip of his Old Style while Mom was out of the room! I felt like a man!
As we prepare to celebrate our Dads this weekend, and some of us mumble about what our fathers didn’t do for us, we have to always remember the things they did do, and if we have children carry on the good lessons and avoid the mistakes or things our Dads didn’t do. Let’s deeply keep in mind that many kids for whatever reason don’t have their Dads actively involved in their lives on a daily basis; that alone should be an impetus to be a part of these kids lives, an active male role model can never replace a child’s father, but it can heal a lot of wounds and put that kid on a healthy life trajectory. That’s why I may have 3 kids at home, but I have over 100 other children at Lost Boyz. Day in and day out I am going to keep loving them, keep helping them, keep hurting with them, and keep pushing them to be the best they can.
Had I not had the experiences I had good and bad with my Daddy there would ultimately not be a Lost Boyz Inc. So today I want to say thank you Daddy for all you have ever done, you are a great man and my hero; I hope my life has made you proud and I love you!!!
Happy Father’s Day Guys!! Hug your kids and see you at Donuts with Dads this Saturday!