Thoughts on America, on this day

Photo by Edewaa Foster
Photo by Edewaa Foster

My oldest son, Middleton, was born on July 4th in Washington DC. A few hours, later fireworks erupted in celebration across our nation—I’d like to think in honor of him.

This year, as his fifth birthday approached, Middleton inquired why July 4th was also called Independence Day. One answer led to another question and another, and me becoming an amateur aficionado of the Revolutionary War.

Around this time, I discovered the soundtrack for Hamilton, which quickly moved to the top of my iTunes playlist. So many of the tracks speak to me in different ways: patriot, entrepreneur, writer, African American, public servant, son, husband and father.

In the months, weeks and hours leading up to Election Day 2016, I was increasingly drawn to the sentimental ballad “Dear Theodosia.” In it, Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton sing to their daughter and son, respectively, about all the hopes and dreams they have for them but also our country. The lyrics and melody convey the fear and vulnerability inherent with fatherhood and leadership.

Thinking Good is a product of not only my hopes and dreams, but also my fears and vulnerabilities. Every day since becoming a father—and a husband two years earlier—I endeavor to be my better self. Not just for my family, but also for my colleagues, community and country. I’ve made a million mistakes. Some days I think I know what I’m doing, others not so much. At times, I feel isolated and alone, but ultimately I am not.

Within my network of friends, mentors and mentees, there’s usually someone who’s wrestled with the same or similar challenge. But not always, and in those moments I turn to Google or YouTube. With enough time and patience wading through the muck, I usually stumble across what I’m seeking or something close.

At Thinking Good, we break through the clutter, with quality content and resources that inform and inspire. We are a community committed to being our better selves, for ourselves and those we encounter in our lives, regardless who they might be. We are not afraid to admit our imperfections or that sometimes we need a helping hand. As my Nana likes to say, “if you see a turtle sitting atop a fence post, know that turtle didn’t get there by itself.”

Photo by Benji Aird
Photo by Benji Aird

As a father, I am charged with nurturing my sons into emotionally mature, intellectually curious and self-confident men who will thrive and make positive contributions to their families, communities and nations. And as their father, I am also charged with ensuring that our country is a place where their dignity and self-worth is reaffirmed and their potential is only limited by their imagination and ability to make it a reality.

As Burr and Hamilton sing in the final stanza:

If we lay a strong enough foundation
We’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you
And you’ll blow us all away
Someday, someday
Yeah, you’ll blow us all away
Someday, someday

I shed a few tears listening to this song when I thought the outcome of the election would go one way, and I shed a few more when I realized it had gone the other.

Interested in more inspiring and empowering stories about Fatherhood? Check out these posts:

Happy Birthday Baby Boy: Thoughts On Your Future
A Perfect Fall Day, Father and Sons

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8 thoughts on “Thoughts on America, on this day”

  1. One thing that virtually every single father in the world shares – including fathers on both sides of the recent painful election cycle – is the desire to make the country better for our children. Maybe in some huge way (think curing cancer), or in a small way (think teaching them to hold the door for the elderly), but better nonetheless. Let’s not forget what makes us alike as some focus too much on the things that drive us apart.

  2. There is a strange wind that blows through every conscious black man that gives birth to a son in this country, I believe. At a major level it’s the positioning we must take and the silent unconscious oath to continue the lie. To share with him the promise of freedom and democracy that we have struggled to know ourselves.

  3. Phenomenal work from a colleague who I have admired from a distance for a minute. I will share this widely on fb, but I must say that as a man of faith who has no children, much less a son, African American men shouldn’t need to have a biological son in order to be compelled to father black male youth today! I admire and praise the burden you feel for your sons Jioni, but we also need men to feel a burden for the millions of black men already here who have no father. The need is too great and we need all hands on deck whether a biological father or not.

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