My name is Ogunbadejo Tolulope.
I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria.
I am a 25 year old, PROUD, BLACK father.
You know, it’s one thing to be a man, it’s another thing to be a black man in this world we live in. Irrespective of the continent, there is always an iota of racism. I’ll give an example. African nations, with Middle Eastern roots, always tend to show racism to the darker-skinned population. In South Africa, there are still shops where "people of color“ aren’t allowed into.
As a father, these days and all the thoughts that go with them, haunt me, because of my four year old son.
How can I explain to him that some people in this world are always going to be driven by hate towards him because of the color of his skin?
It’s difficult, first and foremost, because he’s black, but also with other stereotypes that are coupled with his culture/heritage like; Nigerians being tagged as scammers on a global scale. The world already has a mindset about us that creates a difficult situation for myself and my son. How we were born and look turns into fuel for some people on how they see us (criminals), and further intensifies how they feel towards us (hate).
Look at it this way, I’m living in a country where poverty plagues most of the population and the government is doing nothing to further empowerment causes. Instead, all they do is steal and loot. Police brutality is deep in the system because 90% of the officers are corrupt and make a living off extortion, so if you don’t cooperate, you could end up in the ER or a body bag.
I’m humbled to be from a decent, middle class family, whereby relocating has always been a possible future option. The plan was always to go study abroad for an M.Sc., get a part-time job while studying, try my best to keep the job post-M.Sc., stay abroad for a while and get a permit, then proceed to relocate my son and woman.
Sadly, one thought that has haunted me for the longest is “where will I start from?” I mean, I live in a black society, yes I’ve experienced racism from a foreigner, that’s nothing compared to a switch in an environment where my race is perceived as the “unwanted minority”.
How do I explain to my kid who has childish impulses that when a white kid calls him a “nigger” or a “monkey” he should not get emotional, but react with composure?
In times like this, where being black is difficult and people will do anything to see us extinct, things I think about is how I cannot always be there to protect my son, how his mother and I have to raise him into a fine, cultured gentleman, how we have to feed his mind with the appropriate tools to live in this world.
Hard work, integrity, principle, and discipline.
These virtues will play a major role in shaping him into a man who will trump whatever preordained views the system has of him. Because we all know that, if a white kid works at 100% capacity, a black kid has to work at 300% to have access to a fraction of the opportunities they have access to.
What do you call that?
I do my best not to put pressure on myself because it is a whole lot to take in and reflect on. The moment my son turns five, we're going to start having these conversations in stages, because kids' brain development is advanced at that age, so he can process it in bits. We have all seen kids, younger than that, have untimely deaths for nothing, just because of racism, so I’ll play my part to equip the mind of my child.
Being a black parent, male or female in whatever continent or timeline (past or present) is difficult. Society has created limitations that hinder growth in our minds. That’s why we, as parents, have to do better than our predecessors. We must act as catalysts for black empowerment to spark the idea within our kids that will create change.
As I switch gears, we must not forget about black on black violence. A product of the systematic oppression which has, and still keeps doing damage to our credibility. Everything counts as a black man, the choices we make, the actions we take, nothing is irrelevant.
Its sad to say, but, one mistake and it could be all over in a flash.
Against all odds, when we speak the world listens, even though they mostly choose to ignore it.
I know one day we shall overcome, but to do this, we have to start with our kids. I know myself and others men are looking at things from the dad’s perspective, but we can never underestimate mothers and the role they have in a child’s life. Its honestly inestimable. Mothers are the foundation everything is built on.
As I start to conclude my written, fatherhood perspective, I would like to leave you with an experience I shared with my son.
When he was two years old, he would see me looking in the mirror and ask me what I was doing, I would reply “Your pops is too fresh son, he’s handsome, but guess what? His son is finer.”
He would smile, recognizing how I spoke about him in the third person. Now he is four, and whenever he bathes in the mornings he tells himself, and everyone else ”I’m a handsome boy” and I smile.
Because my son identifies that he is beautiful regardless of his skin color. That alone will build up any child’s confidence!
What am I trying to say?
If I raise my son in Africa, America, or Europe, all these problems will still have to be dealt with, undoubtedly on different scales, but they all still need to be addressed the same way, with the same level of intensity, because as a black man even in your own country, you have a target on your back. As most of our leaders are products of systematic oppression built up over time, and the masses are mostly illiterates who look up to these leaders, learn from them, and try to emulate their ways. And from there the vicious cycle continues.
Being a black father, faced with all these challenges, irrespective of how I feel towards them, has only made me stronger and grind harder for my son, because the goal at the end of the day asides training our kids well, is to be in a position whereby we can assist them in fulfilling their dreams seamlessly.
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