For the Black Male Elder Project I interviewed my father, Dexter S. Scott. I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about why he made some of the decisions in his lifetime that further demonstrated his ability to be a progressive black man. Before starting the project I was a little worried about what areas I would focus the interview on, because my father is not ‘progressive’ in all areas of his life. However, Dr. Johnson reminded us that no one is perfect and that we would only be discouraged if we were looking for someone who has everything together. He is a great example of a progressive black man to me and I am very proud to say so.
INTERVIEWER: Vivian Faith Scott
INTERVIEWEE: Dexter S. Scott
Me: Where are you from? How was your childhood growing up? Who were your role models?
Mr. Scott: I was and raised, for most of my youth, in Palmers Crossing, Mississippi. It’s a small city known as the 16 section owned by the government & set aside for the African American communities. As a boy I did a lot of farming, picking vegetables, and yard work to make some money & to have something to do. Because my father wasn’t around, I looked up to my great uncle Cloudzel. He was a working man, & showed me and my brothers how to work.
Me: What was your motivation to make sure you a part of your children live? And how did you approach your responsibility to be a single father for my sister and me?
Mr. Scott: Well I started a family with your mother when I was young. I always learned from my uncles and mother that if you have a family to feed and raise then you just have to make it happen. I always asked myself ‘who else will take care of them if I don’t?’ Being a single father was much different and required more of me than before. However, I took that as my responsibility, because I loved yall and wanted to be three for yall like I’ve always promised.
Me: What are some of your proud moments where you were helping in your community?
Mr. Scott: I spent most of my time working and raising my kids so I never really look to do anything beyond that. In 1997 a black kid was killed for dating a white girl in Columbus, Mississippi. Jesse Jackson started a march at the courthouse and I took pride in joining them and standing up for the boy’s family and community.
Me: I learned about that case in 5th grade. I did not know you were a part of the march; I’m glad to know that. What would you say to encourage young black man like your nephews, on how to progressive in their communities and to not play into stereotypes of black men?
Mr. Scott: That they’re free to reach their goals; It’s difficult and a lot of hard work, but I can’t say that it’s impossible. I encourage them to take care of business and start making things happen for themselves. Their some many things trying to hold them were they are like unemployment & poverty, but if they reach out for guidance and stay motivated they will progress.
I enjoyed my interview with my dad. I choose the questions I thought would show how he is a progressive black man to me. I wanted to ask about his perspective on healthy, progressive relationships in the African American community, but since he does not believe that his experience with women to be ‘progressive’ I choose not to ask. For the purpose of this interview I think his character as a hardworking man and father were great examples of how African American men can be progressive. Throughout the semester I was able to watch different films and read several articles that discuss how black man can be great friends, show emotions in relationships, be great fathers, commit to their families, and work hard to earn everything they have. These characteristics aren’t often associated with men especially black men.
In most films and media network stations I’ve seen portrayed so many stereotypes about black men. Black men are often seen as criminals, dishonest, dead-beat dads, etc. Even though my father went to work every day and raised my sister and me, I still believed some of those stereotypes as I begin my own relationships with young black men. Being raised by a black man who I seen as an amazing man did not prevent me from drawing assumptions about black men I met. I am still guilty of depressing former black male friends with my pre-judgments and expectations.
I am thankful for Dr. Johnson’s Black Male course, because it has challenged me to look beyond my black male friends’ flaws and mistakes. I am learning to not pre-judge nor make assumptions about the black men I will meet and date in the future. I am glad to say that I have continuously witnessed a black man’s unconditional love and friendship through my father, and I hope to find the same love within another one day.