Results tagged “family” from LTG Blog

“That Name”

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I was recently at my birth home in Apalachicola Florida soaking up sun, enjoying seafood and wonderful long visits with family and friends. Because of Florida’s longstanding relationship to disturbances in the Gulf of Mexico – hurricanes – we decided to have the trees on the property pruned back from the house. For this task we hired Joey and John’s Tree Service.

My family moved to Apalachicola in the early 20th Century from Alabama and Georgia. They came to this part of Florida because of a lumber company that was cutting dead head cypress along the Apalachicola River. My mother’s father was a river boat pilot and my dad came along with his brothers to work in the lumber yard. My parents met and married in 1926 and I am the last of their nine children.

The house that we had the trees pruned back from has a relationship to the lumber business that brought my parents to Florida. When my parents purchased the land for their home in 1947 they did not have much money left to buy materials to build a house. It just happened that the lumber company was giving away old houses that had been used as camps for the men who cut the cypress along the river and one of the houses became my family’s starter home. The core of this existing house is that old camp from “up the river.”

Watching CNN’s Soledad O’Brien’s show on “Black in America” and the segment on the Rand family made me pause as I realized one of those “hiding in plain sight” realities of white American life: large gatherings of all our kin don’t happen very much anymore, if they ever did. If my extended family’s any guide, we know our genealogy ( all the way back to the Pilgrims on our mother’s side and New Amsterdam Dutch on my father’s ) better than we know each other.

The Rand’s, 300 hundred strong, get together every two years with family cheers, bar b-q cook-offs, and buses arriving from around the U.S.; t-shirts sing it loud and sing it proud. On my Burghardt side, we’ve got half a family tree on eight feet of graph paper sitting on a shelf in the shed. On my mother’s side, the Robinsons, there are a couple of pictures of an old guy with a hell of a beard. He’s not cheering in any of them.

Speaking Our Truths

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Senator Obama’s talk on M.I.A. and AWOL Black Fathers delivered at a Chicago Church on Father’s Day lacks the informed analysis that I expect of him if he is win the vote of this African American father for President of the United States.

The absence of some black fathers from the lives of their children is owing to many reasons far too complex to cover in this space. I would like Mr. Obama to take the time to understand this complexity and not paint all black men with the same brush. Furthermore, I ask him to please share with the citizenry what he considers a father’s responsibilities. Surely there are many constructions of what is considered responsible father behavior.

To Dwell or Not to Dwell that is the Question…

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Wow, has it really come to this? Is the state of our economy at a place where single 30, 40, 50 even 60 year old male and female alike college degree bearing, solid career having, pension holding individuals are forced to take up co-habitation with other just as successful persons of no relation. No, I’m not talking about a spouse that you no longer like or some other type of significant other. What I’m speaking of, shall I dare say the words, or is there a way that I can say them without making the person labeled as such sound totally juvenile, or immature lacking some of the luster and validity that we all expected our adult lives to be.

Barack Obama's Father's Day speech critiquing Black fathers for not taking up their family responsibilities got me to thinking about the fathers -- all of them white -- whom I knew growing up in a once-small New England town back in the '50's. My brother and sister and I grew up on a tree-lined street with grassy lawns in the back where kids played ball in the day and hide n'seek in the evenings. For someone driving by, it would have seemed just about perfect, rosy as a summer peach, a "Jack 'N Jill" cover come to life.

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