I thought about being a dad before becoming a dad. Before becoming a husband. Before becoming a man.
I grew up in a dangerous neighborhood on Detroit’s west side. I grew up where you were discouraged from seeking an education. You were discouraged from seeking a way out.
But I knew I needed to escape. I knew I had to get an education. It was my only way of becoming a better father, even though I was not a father at the time. My primary goal was to give my unborn children a better path to success than I had.
I wanted them to feel safer. I wanted them to go to better schools. And I wanted them to enjoy a better financial situation growing up than I had.
The one thing I could not surpass was the love that my grandmother, aunt and mother showered upon me. I don’t know how anyone could.
My children never got chased from the corner store like I was a few times. My kids go to Kroger, a safe heaven for all.
Men who rolled dice and illegal cigarettes stood in front of the Vancouver party store. Sometimes I’d walk past these men on my way home. And sometimes one of them would follow me with the intent of robbing me. Then one day one of the local drug dealers put a stop to it, telling one of the would be robbers that I had a bright future.
He told them to leave me alone. I never got robbed again.
My children never had a neighbor climb through a window and rob them. I did.
A dude named William pushed his nephew Willby through our window and swiped a jar where I pitched quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. It was my life savings that had about $75 in it.
They denied the theft. But I made a surprise visit and my jar sat on the kitchen table with only a few coins remaining.
I attended the Detroit Public School system where I thought most of my teachers had my best interest at heart. I even learned to appreciate my ninth grade English teacher Mrs. Williams who refused to give me an A until I unlocked my full potential in her class.
I finally did and that A felt so good.
My classmates made fun of me for studying hard and “talking proper.” My daughter’s friends pushed for her to do better.
My DPS teachers wanted the best for me, but they lacked the resources of West Bloomfield Schools where my children attended school.
My daughter Celine finished up her junior year at Stanford and already has a six figure job offer either in Dallas or Chicago when she graduates.
My son will be a freshman at Michigan State University in the fall if Corona-19 cooperates.
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