I chose to interview my father. He was born in San Diego, California December 2nd 1967. Specifically, he was born in Paradise Valley Hospital in National City. He lived on 30th and E Street, but during this time the Government bought the property to build a freeway. When this occurred he was forced to move to a new location; he moved to Solola apartments when he was about five or six. Around this time he attended Knox Elementary School. At Knox Elementary he says, “a lot of teachers were very positive and loving;” they also took the time to explain how money works. One of my father’s favorite instructors was Mrs. Sanders; she had been very influential in my father’s life. Mrs. Sanders taught my father right from wrong; for example, when he failed to do the right thing, he was assigned to pick up trash with the lunch lady as punishment. Later years into elementary school he had eventually graduated into 6th grade and attended 6th grade camp. This camp was called Cuyamaca and it was the first time he spent a week from home. He explained being homesick, but he was forced to tough it out. Another influential woman in his life is his God mother, Ms. Janetta. She taught him responsibility. He says, “I had grown up poor, but we always had things.” A male influential figure in my father’s life is Mr. Scales. Mr. Scales would always invite my father to recreational events; my dad says, “this is the reason why he invites underprivileged youth to similar events.” Mr. Scales taught my father to invest in him-self and save money; he continues to do this today. As my father transitioned into the ninth grade at Madison High School, he ran a very short life of track and field. He said that he ran the 4×4 relay with a Jerry Curl, but he did not continue sports because he doesn’t like staying away from home. My father says, “he was the first son to graduate from high school on time.” He also says that “he doesn’t drink or smoke because he has seen addicts in a low income residential area called Bay Vista apartments. In this area there is a street referred to as the “dip;” here addicts drank and smoked all day with no regard for their own lives. My father worked all throughout high school; he says, “when your family doesn’t have enough money you must work.” After High School my father did not pursue a college education. He did not attend college because no one thought about college, High School was it. He also recognized in high school teachers were not teaching properly; he was very disappointed and believed that the high school system failed him.
After high school, he had met my mother through driving buses. He worked 12 hours a day and had driven buses for 2 years. My father was about 20 years old working for the city and the bus company. Another influential male figure in my dad’s life is his step father; who taught him how to repair. Although my father had a biological dad, he considered his God father, Steve his real father. His biological father lived in Joplin, Missouri, and his name was Frederick Barber. My father’s last name is Webb because his grandmother gave him the last name of her second husband. My dad was never tempted to live the lifestyle of my Uncle Jimmy which portrayed some of the black male stereotypes. My dad says, “he always hung around older people.” He also says, “It’s hard not to go the route of making fast money.” He also explained that the entertainment industry makes a tremendous amount of currency, but there are other ways to make money. My father asked, “how could you tell drug dealers anything different, when selling drugs was an easy way to make a lot of money.” In my father’s opinion, drugs and alcohol destroys people’s life. He says, “you have to believe in God, have faith, and be content with what you have.” Because of his education he’s limited on what he can accomplish. I also asked about my father’s opinion on the stereo types black male rappers portray. When discussing stereo types of the black male rappers, he dislikes how contemporary rappers use money for material things. He believes that they contribute to the negative stereotypes of black males. He also believes black rappers should be giving back, building parks, and investing in schools. He says “If your making your money from the people make sure to give back to them.” Sponsor events in low income communities. In other words, if you are ever able to make a lot of money, give back to the community.
After interviewing my father I believe he is a prime example of redefining black male masculinity. He is not a man who is attracted to the “flashy” lifestyle. He always wanted better for himself, but this does not mean that he had to have the cars, clothes, and women. To him, these material things didn’t define masculinity; In fact, being a hard worker and being able to provide for a family meant more to him. My father said that “he was never tempted to make a quick buck;” although, having a lot of money is appealing. He made sure to stay on the correct path. My father had several brothers, but he chose to go the opposite direction of a material life style. He has also witnessed some of the down falls to living a fast luxurious lifestyle. In his community, individuals who had a quick rise to the top usually sold drugs, but most who did eventually got caught and sent to prison. I admire my father’s awareness for alternative routes than just making quick cash to get rich. If black men have the opportunity to make fast money he believes the entertainment industry is the place to do it, and he doesn’t blame them for being able to do this. He believes the entertainment world is a fast way to make an abundant amount of money legally. My father has worked various hard working manual labor jobs. I believe if my father had a chance to do it all again, he would have continued his education and went to college. Although he is hard working, he has found out that physical labor has it’s limitations. Throughout his life he has focused on doing the right thing and making money legally, but education is key. My father believes that he has reached a certain cut off point because he has not advanced his education. During my father’s earlier years, he had multiple mentors in his life to guide him on the correct path. Both men and women have been influential in showing my father different positive alternatives. He has always been a hard worker and realized at an early age that he needed to work. My father could have easily chose to go down the wrong path if no one guided him. Without major influential figures in his life he could have fell into the stereotypes black men often fall into: hustlers, ball players, pimps, etc. I believe my father never had to worry about me going down the wrong path; my mother made sure to keep me out of trouble. My father had helped from various people along the way to accomplish his goals, and I believe he goes against black male stereotypes. I believe, if my father chose a different route he would not be the man he is today. He even said that he surrounded himself with people who were doing positive things in their life. He is content with his lifestyle. Moreover, I can learn from him by integrating his work ethic into my own life. I understand that as a black male that you have to work hard, but as you age you have to work smarter. This is where I can pick up where my father left off. I also surrounded myself with positive influences who wanted to pursue higher education. He has always set an example of doing things the right way. Although black males are subject to various stereotypes they should not limit us. We should be aware of them, but also know that there are alternatives. My father redefines black male stereotypes because through his life he has shown that a black male has options.