A new powerful new documentary called “The Streets Were My Father” features three Chicago men, two Hispanics and one Black, who grew up without fathers. All three did hard time for serious offenses, including murder.
The film, with no narrator, just lets the men talk. None blames “systemic racism.” All concede they made bad choices, but choices nonetheless. All talked about the pain they felt growing up without a father figure to instruct, scold, guide, motivate and instill confidence and direction. I highly recommend it.
In Barack Obama’s first book, “Dreams From My Father,” he talked about the hole in his soul, having last seen his father, briefly, when Obama was 10: “There was only one problem: my father was missing. He had left paradise (Hawaii), and nothing that my mother or grandparents told me could obviate that single, unassailable fact. Their stories didn’t tell me why he had left. They couldn’t describe what it might have been like had he stayed.”
My brothers and I were fortunate. We grew up with two strong, hardworking parents, both born in the Jim Crow South. But when I grow up, most kids came from two-parent households. My father, on the other hand, never knew his biological father. A man named Elder was in his life longer than most of his mother’s boyfriends. He was an alcoholic, who routinely beat my father’s mother and would beat my father when he tried to intervene. Dad’s illiterate mother sided with her boyfriend during a quarrel with my dad and threw him out of the house at the age of 13. He never returned. This was in Athens, Georgia, deep in the Jim Crow South, at the beginning of the Great Depression.
He took a series of menial jobs before becoming a Pullman porter for the railroads. As a porter, he traveled all over the country and was amazed when he traveled to California, where he eventually relocated, and could actually walk in the front door of a restaurant and get served. My father joined the Marines, did duty in Guam during World War II and became a staff sergeant in charge of making sure the “colored” troops were fed. When he returned, he sought a job as a cook but was told, “We don’t hire (N-word)s.” So, he worked two jobs as a janitor and cooked for a white family on the weekends. After a grueling day of work, he attended night school two or three times each week to get his GED. He took courses on restaurant management and then started a small cafe when he was 47 years old, an ancient age for a first-time entrepreneur. The cafe was successful. He owned the property and bought some rental property before retiring in his early 80s.
He tolerated no excuses and always gave my brothers and me the following advice: “Hard work wins. You get out of life what you put into it. You cannot control the outcome, but you are 100% in control of the effort. Before you complain about what somebody said or did to you, go to the nearest mirror and ask yourself, ‘What could I have done to change the outcome?’ And, no matter how hard you work, how good you are, bad things will happen. How you respond to those bad things will tell your mother and me if we raised a man.”
I wrote a book about the eight-hour conversation I had with this crusty old Marine, whose old-school discipline my brothers and I did not appreciate at the time. The hardback is called “Dear Father, Dear Son,” and the paperback is called “A Lot Like Me.”
Several readers who, like my dad, grew up without a father wrote to me and said that the book “changed their lives.” Many readers who, like my brothers and me, grew up with tough Depression-era World War II dads said the book changed how they saw their fathers.
Larry Elder is a bestselling author and nationally syndicated radio talk show host. His latest book, “The New Trump Standard,” is available in paperback from Amazon.com and for Nook, Kindle, iBooks and GooglePlay. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an “Elderado,” visit www.LarryElder.com. Follow Larry on Twitter @LarryElder. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Larry Elder, Great commentary. Your father was a real man with a moral compass. God Bless your father. Lyndon Johnson’s perpetual welfare destroyed the black family unit and as a result look what has happened to the inner cities.
The Democrat Party has allowed women (baby factories) to marry the government.
The more babies they have the more the government pays them free welfare, food stamps, housing, medical, phones and even cable TV, and of course they say that they have no idea who the fathers are. So we the taxpayers support them and the illegal immigrants.
80% of all black babies are born to single women.
And all we hear about is “income inequality”. Jeez, I wonder why??
You’d think, WITH ALL THESE facts out there for anyone with eyes to see, the blacks would STOP VOTING for their own chains under dem rule..
The ways to really support the black (and the white and Hispanic) communities are:
1. Bring back fathers – Fix the divorce laws so that they’re not biased towards women, make joint custody the norm, treat men and women equally in divorce courts.
2. Stop rewarding single motherhood. Get rid of most welfare programs, require work to get assistance.
3. Streamline the regulation process to encourage entrepreneurship by slashing permitting and licensing requirements.
4. Encourage home ownership by slashing permitting requirements.
5. Encourage quality education by getting rid of the teacher’s unions so that school boards are responsive to parents rather than teacher’s unions. An intermediate step is to remove impediments towards charter schools.
6. Devote MORE police to high-crime areas to provide a safe living area for everyone.
7. Stop the systemic racism of the left that considers blacks too stupid to do things for themselves (such as get a driver’s license and register to vote).
8. Treat blacks like fully mature adults from any other race and require living within the norms of society. Most blacks like most whites do this anyway. Don’t let the troublemakers and miscreants spoil it for everyone else.
It’s a good list but didn’t you leave something out? What are the steps to make these things happen?
Conservatives generally know what is needed but I see no way to make any of these things actually happen. I’d like to see that list.
For welfare, that’s easy.
TAKE THE VOTE AWAY from those who stay on welfare, 3 years or more… PERIOD.
Let me make this a little plainer. We all know the steps for correcting the situation. The hard part is getting enough people in office who are willing and able to actually do it and keeping them there.
Biden, Pelosi and Schumer are not going to follow our advice.
Conservatives (not RINOS) need to control the presidency and both houses of Congress and we need to control them by a large margin for years. That’s what has to happen to change things. Until it does we’re just talking to hear our keyboard rattle.
So you’d rather say/do nothing, TILL (and if) we win back control?
There is something called systematic dummycrats. It’s been their wretched plan to destroy the family since welfare became law during LBJ’s term as president.
This year, it’s “Happy Birthing Person’s Day”.
Next year, it’ll be “Happy Sperm Donor’s Day”.
The year after that, the adopted will have formed their grievance committee, and everyone who used the aforementioned terms over the past two years will be “canceled” for their past Hate Speech against Adopted Persons.
Intersectionality will continue to eat its own until they figure out that the ultimate minority is… The Individual.
Pity its only Figuratively “Eating their own”..