“Donald Toussaint” by Donald Abram

Donald AbramInterviewee: Donald Toussaint

What city were you born in?

I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Columbia, Mississippi. I moved to Mississippi when I was around the age of 7.

How many siblings did you have?

I have 8 siblings, but one of them died 3 days after they were born.

How did you grow up?

I grew up in a single family home with my mother and grandmother. We grew up poor, and did not have a lot of money. However, we learned how to make do.

What type of community did you grow up in?

I grew up in a low-income/ middle-class neighborhood. Most of the people that held middle-class incomes had two parents in the house; I only had one. There was very minimal to no gang violence in the community. The boys in the neighborhood would fight for practice.

Were your mother and father present in your life?

My father was not present in my life. He began to be apart of my life once I was older. I lived with my mother and she raised me and my other siblings.

Did your mother view education as being important?

Yes she did. If you lived in her house, you were going to get an education. The idea of one of her children not getting an education was unacceptable.

What did you do for fun when you were younger?

When I was younger, I swam a lot in the river. My friends and I would go down to the river almost every day. Often times, we would take watermelon from the local market place, throw it in the river, and wait for it to get cold. Once the watermelon was cold, we would go down the bottom of the river, get it, and eat it. When I was younger, we would also do a lot of outside sports. We would play football, basketball, and do a lot of running.

Was church apart of your life?

Yes. Church was mandatory in my family. We would go to church every Sunday.

How did you decide to be in the current occupation that you old?

I am currently a Pastor in Port Arthur Texas. I began preaching in 1982. Although I did hold other jobs, preaching is what I have done continually.  I became a Senior Pastor in the year of 2001, and I have been a Pastor ever sense.

What degrees do you hold?

I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education and several certificates

Essay

Media of all forms have portrayed a negative image of African-American males. The traditional narrative of African-Americans males in the media has consisted of black males being hypersexual, unintelligent, and overly aggressive. To often, the cause of this is depicted as a lack of parental guidance, no respect for authority, and negative perceptions of the role of women. Television, radio, and musical lyrics accompany the aforementioned stereotypical views of African-Americans. Despite the fact that this is the dominant narrative, it is one that is not the case for many African-American males. A profound example of this is, Donald Toussaint, the interviewee. He has proven himself to be a progressive African-American male through his educational achievements, performance of parental duties, and his professional achievements. All of this explicitly shows that African-American males are more than what the media depicts them as.

The majority of African-Americans are in under resourced, impoverished neighborhoods.  Consequently, the surrounding educational systems do not adequately prepare students for institutions of higher learning.  This lack of preparation leads many black youths to drop out of school, and look for alternative way of establishing economic stability. As a result of this fact, the media has portrayed African-Americans as being unintelligent. However, this is not true for Donald Toussaint. He has matriculated through college, and received his bachelor’s degree in Christian Education. In addition to that, Mr. Toussaint has received several certificates in church administration. Regardless of the fact that the school systems in which Mr. Toussaint attended may not have fully prepared him, it did not stop him from attending an institution of higher learning.  Mr. Toussaint has proved himself to be intellectually astute and highly intelligent.

The media has also depicted black adult males as absentee fathers. Mr. Toussaint has not fallen into this negative stereotype. He has three children, and is involved in all of their lives. The interviewee has expressed that he has a good relationship with all of his children. Although he does not live with his children, he does his best to stay up to date with their lives and continue to be a source of support for them. The traditional narrative is that black fathers are unwilling to support their families, and refuse to be in their children’s lives. Mr. Toussaint has readily and willingly participated in the lives of his children.

Furthermore, Mr. Toussaint has been a pastor since the year of 2001. He has inspired and uplifted a multitude of people throughout his professional career. Pastor Toussaint has been featured in several newspaper articles, and has preached across the country. He has established credibility as a preacher and as a leader. This has allowed him to become secure financially, and provide for himself and his children.

Through Pastor Toussaint’s educational achievements, performance of parental duties, and professional career, he has proven that the media has not accurately depicted African-American males. This traditional narrative has largely misrepresented African-Americans, and does not speak to the community as a whole. This is just one example of the many black males that are rising above the negative stereotypes that the media tries to confine black males to.  The media has attacked the black male in a variety of ways, and it is clear that those views do not encompass the totality of the black male experience.

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