Not Your Average Black Man- By: Ashley Burks

Biography

Kevin Burks Sr. born September 10, 1967 in Fresno, California who is a son, husband, brother, and father. He is the middle child of three. His father was a police officer and mother worked for the IRS. Growing up with educated parents he strived to do the same, and was taught nothing in life comes easy and being a black man he had to give 150%.

During his early years he contributed to community service and played sports. In the 5th grade his parents divorced, he then moved with his grandmother who was considered lower class. As a child he was taught to stay in a child’s place, and to respect your elders no matter the situation, “whoopins” were in style then. Going from upper class, to lower class was a drastic change but he learned to appreciate the little things in life.

Although when living with his parents growing up with a silver spoon in his mouth and getting everything he asked for he felt being with his grandmother he was loved and special which was more important than material things. As for his older brother he continued to live with his father, his younger sister then moved with their mother to San Francisco to start fresh. Now living on the Westside of Fresno, which was known as the bad side of town Kevin now had to adapt to the environment that he was not familiar with.

In his teenage years he started to notice a difference about himself, although he maintained good grades and was a star athlete in high school he couldn’t hide from reality. He was affiliated with the good and bad having friends who were apart of gangs, abused drugs and got into fights but he refused to get involved but on some occasions he fought for the sake of his friends. In high school he became a victim of racism mainly from teachers who treated him differently because of his skin tone, which he also went through with his own family. He felt as if he was the “bad apple” of his family, both siblings were light complexions as well as his father, Kevin and his mother were “dark skinned”. Complexion has always played a part in his life in a negative way even twenty-five years ago a fair skinned African American individual was treated better and considered lucky and it still plays a part in society today.

During Kevin’s high school days he made a lot of friends and enemies because of his superiority and popularity. Specifically his senior year was full of happiness and had major decisions being the star wide receiver of Roosevelt High School he received scholarships from Stanford, UCLA, USC, and many more. At this point he had been seeing a young women by the name of Nancy Flores from Madera, California they dated throughout their high school years. With his promising scholarships and bright future ahead of him he learned he was expecting his first child. He now faced one of the most difficult decisions in his life whether he would go off to college or stay home to raise his child.

He ultimately decided to stay home to care for his new family and sick grandmother aka big momma whom he loved more than anything. In 1986 Kevin and Nancy welcomed a baby boy, Kevin Burks Jr. Two years later they were married, Kevin began working for his father’s upcoming steam cleaning business while Nancy began nursing school. In 1990 there second child was born a baby girl they named Ashley. Within the next couple of years Kevin and Nancy worked hard saving their earning to get a place of their own in a friendlier neighborhood for the sake of their children. Now it’s twenty plus years later Kevin is now living a comfortable life with his family, well established, and going on 24 years of marriage. He continues to work and be a devoted husband and father.

 

Reflection

After interviewing one of the most important men of my life I was enlightened by his past and upbringing of his generation. Although I knew so much about him already it’s was more of a detailed description of his life one on one. Learning about his sacrifices, trial and tribulations I learned to appreciate my father more after our brief interview.

Starting from the beginning being familiar with Fresno, California myself which I was raised I can agree that the West side of Fresno is a tough place to grow up. It is highly known for its drug and gang activity that can deprive the thoughts and ambiton of a youngster. At a young age he became involved in extra curricular activities, sports and community service to keep himself out of trouble After his parents divorced and moving with his grandmother he had older uncles still living home with their mother, two of the three hustled and abused drugs. It’s astonishing that he also did not fall into these bad habits, which is one of the few stereotypes for African American males in society today. Although Kevin witnessed these things first had he did not contribute to such manners. Only every now and then he might get caught up in a fight but he always had a police officer as a father to bail him out.

Discussing being the “bad apple” this only made him see clearly and work even harder to achieve what he has today. All African Americans have the same opportunities it’s about mastering what you need to do due to your own circumstances. Also, blaming “them” the media or white society will not get you far in life.

After Kevin made his decision to stay home to raise his son he then knew it would change his life forever. I could only imagine how difficult that was for him; having top schools recruit you for something you enjoy doing to only turn them down but for a very good reason. As a man he knew it was his responsibility to raise his son, for this reason I have an everlasting respect for my father, he could have easily left to fulfill his dreams.

When Kevin graduated high school things became established quickly, in a matter of two years he was a husband and father. He worked for his fathers business and completed some college in his early twenties. Years later he began working a higher paying job while Nancy worked as a R.N. This ultimately shows his dedication to his family and how black males are not limited to stereotypes the multi million-dollar media portrays all black males to be. I am proud to say this is my father.

 

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