Dr. Hasan Johnson
BLACK MALE ELDER RECOGNITION PROJECT
Dana Rozelle Jackson is the man that I choose to interview. He was and continues to be an influential person in my life. He is my father. He gave me life and taught me a great deal about life. Electing to interview him gave me the opportunity to delve further into the how’s and why’s of his life.
Me: Can you tell me when and where you born? Also can you share your family structure? Can you give me a picture of you growing up?
Mr. Jackson: I was born in Omaha, Nb in 1946. My mother was only 14 when she gave birth to me. My father was 16 at the time. I am the oldest of 4 children. We lived in Omaha throughout my childhood and teenage years. I was highly involved in activities. I played all sports with basketball being my favorite. I also had my own step team. We were pretty good. I had aspirations to play college ball but I tore up my knee and was never able to recover from it. If only the doctors back then were as good as they are now I might have had a chance. Regardless of that I went from being a player to coaching. I always had a leadership quality in me and enjoyed showing people how to do things.
Me: Where there any people you looked up to as role models? If so who?
Mr. Jackson: First and foremost it was my father. He was a hard working man. He took care of his business and did not take crap from anyone. I believe he learned early on that because he became a father at such a young age that he would have to fend for himself if he wanted his family to survive. Malcolm was another whose message I listened to. He offered more to the blacks to me because he talked about ways blacks could better themselves. I was not a believer in Islam but that did not stop me from listening to what he had to say. Because I was young at the time his words really resonated with me.
Me: What made you move to California?
Mr. Jackson: Well after having my second child with your mother we wanted to make a change. I wanted to head west and pursue some better job opportunities. Another reason was my mother and sisters had made the move a couple years earlier. We ended up in Hanford for a couple years then moved to Fresno.
Me: So this interview is about black masculinity. Where or who helped shaped your idea about what black masculinity?
Mr. Jackson: I got my idea of what masculinity was from watching my father and other men in the community. I believed as a man you are suppose to take care of everything the family needs and those are food, a roof over our heads, and paying the bills. As I grew up the women were expected to take care of the house and kids. As I grew older I started to change my stance on the expectation of women. It was because I had 3 daughters myself and I have seen men use women in the wrong way and I did not want my daughters to be taken advantage of.
Me: As I got older I realized that you were not like most men in our community. We lived in a poor neighborhood where a lot of my friends had no father and if they did the father was addicted to some type of drug. Did you ever get the sense that you were different?
Mr. Jackson: I knew that I did not adhere to the status quote that surrounded the community but I just did what I needed to do to support my family. I became a teacher and a coach because teaching was the gift given to me so I used it.
Me: As I watched you coach and teach you showed a lot of emotion. You showed a lot of compassion more so with the girls but many men looked like they did not really mean their compassion when they showed it but yours look real. Where did you get that from?
Mr. Jackson: I do not know. That is something that would just come out of me. Maybe I could say that over time I learned that you have to be real and show yourself and people will believe in you more.
Me: Did you realize that you were a role model for so many children in the community?
Mr. Jackson: Yes. Going into the teaching/coaching profession you know that people are looking towards you to be a leader and role model. I just wanted kids to have an opportunity and outlet that they might not have in another place.
Me: As life went on you were presented with a new challenge being a single father. How did that make you feel?
Mr. Jackson: Well it was difficult splitting with your mother. Something that made me feel better about that was the fact that all my kids decided to stay with me.
Me: You started to play new roles. You were doing things that moms usually did. Did you have any reservations about doing “women’s work?”
Mr. Jackson: At first I relied on your sister to fill that role in the house but she was older and ready to move on with her life. Out of necessity I had to do the “women’s work” if not you guys would have been missing an important piece.
Me: Did you know that those times would impact your boy’s life in regards to gender roles and masculinity?
Mr. Jackson: No I did not know the impact at the time because I did not have time to think about that. Now as all of you guys have grown up and become fathers I can see how those times affect you guys now.
Me: Thanks for the time and conversation
Mr. Jackson: Your welcome son
As I interviewed my father I began to realize how fortunate I was. I was exposed to a man that was not afraid to show emotions that most men would classify them as soft. He was not afraid to wear different hats in the family structure. It provided me with a balanced outlook on life in general and masculinity specifically. In my relationship now I am not prohibited ackfrom letting my wife assumes some of my duties and I am unencumbered with taking over some of her roles. I have four children an even split 2 girls and 2 boys. I have been able to model for my children different forms of masculinity so that they will have the understanding of how it comes in many different forms.