Reverend Curtis L. Moss is the Pastor and long-time member of New Bethel Baptist Church of San Diego which just happens to be the church I was born and raised into and the Church my Grandmother the Late Robbie Mitchell attended. He’s someone I’ve known as long as I can remember me and nurtured me through my faith and through life as a grandfather type figure. I look up to and commend MY pastor for being an exceptional black man. He is inspiring he is the epitome of progressive masculinity in my eyes. So of course, he’s the first person I thought to interview for this project.
I asked him just to give me a quick run through of his life: “I was born in Arkansas in a city called Wabash on June 3rd 1950. During my life time we had a lot of civil rights and by the time I got to be a teenager in around ‘65 I experienced a lot of the civil rights movement in the 60s. We never marched with Dr. King but we were in another city doing the same things. Although the Vietnam War was a big issue during my youth, in my opinion, not as much as the Civil Rights. My brother served in Vietnam world tour in Vietnam and young men 2/3 yrs older than me spent time in Vietnam. In the south, however, we were more or less concerned in civil rights than war.”
Next he talks about his big move to California and his Working experiences: “In 1970 a friend of mine let me hitch a ride with him and we came to California. I lived in Los Angeles from 1972-1997, that’s 25 years. Then in 1997 I moved down to San Diego. I had one Job that I loved. It was at an oil refinery and it was a great opportunity for a young man with no experience, just moved across the country, looking for work. There I worked on a platform 125 feet off the ground. We learned about so much learned about tools, good job, paid good money at that time. Then I lost that job in 1979 but still got another job working an oil company in 1981. That company closed and then that’s when I started working a job with the Federal government at the shipyard. In this job I began moving up. Moving upward since ’81, up in ’85, and in ‘94 commissioned my first leadership role. 1994 became a supervisor. In 1997 I Moved to San Diego and that’s when I came to New Bethel Baptist Church. The pastor at that time was Michael K. Wilson, and from there I became Pastor in 2009. I retired Last year in October and now I am a full time Minister.
After he finished that off, I asked him to give me a little more detail about his childhood and family life.: “I had 7 siblings. One died really early when I was 9, of Lukemia. Like I said we grew up in the south, 3 bedroom house, we call it a ‘shot gun house’ ‘cause you could look straight through them. We always had food…which was a good thing. Not much of a struggle. My dad was always employed no alcohol and no drug use. We had things we needed, not the best clothing but lived decently. Like I said, Dad was always blessed to have a good job, and was a mechanic on the side. But my parents had martial problems separated 1963…My mother wasn’t looking for more companionship, she wasn’t mean, she treated all of us well, and it was a kind of good thing. She would pressure my dad would do better for us. “
I asked, did you get into any trouble as a kid? :“I had a little trouble when I was 9 or ten with stealing. I guess I was just running with the wrong crew got caught up and almost went to reform school but the judge let me go cause I didn’t have a criminal record. Straightened me out.”
Can you tell me a little bit about the relationships in your life?: “1st marriage childhood sweetheart but I guess I was too dumb to realize things. In 1994 met sis Moss met at New Bethel and we just hit it off. (Laughs) She had a little crush on me and I had one on her… I guess I felt like we were made for each other because our relationship has been solid. I never knew how to maintain a relationship. Instead of watching Sports all day and running out to get beers like in my first marriage, we talk and communicate. It’s a love affair, 15 years later. I learned a lot of things from my father and mother about relationships. My dad used to jump on my mom and I never wanted to beat up on my wife. We have problems but been able to handle our situations and deal with our differences.”
The first Stereotype I want to bring up that Pastor Moss challenges is the idea of the Lazy Black Man who does not work for anything. According to the interview he has kept a Job all of his life and on top of that is even able to retire comfortably at the age of 60 with benefits and nothing to worry about. He moved to California with nothing and now is comfortably upper middle class. Although he didn’t go to college he learned and perfected a trade and used his skills to move himself up to supervisory positions in his field. An accomplishment.
During the interview although I didn’t include it, Pastor Moss stressed the idea of how even though his parents split up, and him and the mother of his children split up it didn’t affect the relationship that both him and his dad had with their kids. According to society all black men are dead beat dads and I will admit it is kind of refreshing to hear about TWO generations of black men that have been constantly there for their kids to handle their responsibilities.
Another stereotype I would like to address that Pastor Moss challenges is the idea that Black men are hyper-aggressive and violent. Although his father was abusive to his mother he didn’t use that as a reason to continue the vicious cycle trying to take power over his wife simply because he is a man and he can. He used his experience of seeing the pain his father caused his mother, realized that it was wrong, and grew off of it and knew he would be gentile to his wife and other women. Not only does he not exert violence over women but he is not violent by any means, in fact Pastor Moss might be the complete opposite. He is one of the most gentile and loving men that I know. This also ties into the idea that Black Men are not supposed to show affection. He is not scared to hug and kiss us church members including the men and also is not scared to shed a tear in the pulpit. To me this doesn’t show me that he’s weak or not a man as society would think but the fact that he is able to comfortably show affection shows me and all other members of church that he is man enough to show us that he loves us. It allows us to respect him more as a Pastor.
In my opinion, and in conclusion I don’t think Masculinity has an absolute definition. To me, masculinity is someone who is able to take life as it comes, and handle it in a good manner. Men are Men, but they are human first and as humans we will make mistakes and our parents will make mistakes, and the world will be screwed up around us but most importantly, and what I see in Pastor Moss, and what I think true masculinity is, and what a man should be able to do is to take these experiences and these hardships, and this world around us and use it to make himself better. When I interviewed Pastor Moss I could tell he was VERY proud to tell me about his self and his achievements and it was very inspiring. Reverend Curtis L. Moss is his own man, he is not shaped by stereotypes; he handles things in a way that are good for himself, his family and also the community around him.
By: Ashley D. Robinson
May 15, 2012