One man’s crus…

One man’s crusade to redefine African-American fatherhood


In one of his more interesting comic sketches, Chris Rock compares one group of African Americans, “niggas,” to another more wholesome group, “black people.” “You know what really bugs me about niggas is the way they always take credit for stuff a normal man would just do,” says Rock. “Like, ŒI raised my kids.'”
By Rock’s definition, I know exactly where I belong among African Americans today. For I am sure that even for this meager deed of fatherhood I am performing, I deserve a lot more than credit. My mission sounds simple enough: carting my young son through West Manhattan to visit another friend, working in Chelsea. I have logged enough baby hours to earn the title “stay-at-home dad,” so I’m not exactly new to this. But our trek into the city elicits terror because of three converging factors: 1.) I am a hefty 6’4″ black male—anything can happen. 2.) It’s Manhattan—everything might happen. 3.) My son is 7 months old—something always happens.
To take the mystery out of the island on this visit to New York, I have recruited two friends. It helps that they are native New Yorkers and know the geography. It doesn’t help that they are also young, black, male writers, whose size and dress (like my own), says almost nothing about who they are. Pushing the stroller, I remember the last time I was in New York with two other black male writers. As we were emerging from a Brooklyn subway that day, a white lady coming down the steps glanced our way and when she did not see Langston Hughes, immediately reversed direction. 

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