Presence: is the state or fact of existing, occurring, or being present in a place or thing.
I started this blog with definition of “Presence” because the presence of black men is under attack. With the mass incarceration of black men, to the father-less homes, and in the workplace the presence of black men is lacking.
I work in Child Welfare Services andbeing a big black male I look different from my coworkers. Which just means I am not female or white. I look like or can relate more towards the families I serve, as majority look like me, or even remind me ofmy family members or friends I have met through my life. When I go to some neighborhoods, some which are considered the hood, ghetto. I say that because my wife would call me when I am at work to ask me when was I coming come? This question used to getme mad and I used to laugh and wonder what type of question is that? Of course I’m coming home! I come home every night! What I didn’t understandwas my wife had the right to ask me those questions being thatmy job is unpredictable with the on calls, going to court, jails, homes and not knowing what are in those homes. In reality I'm not guaranteed to come every night. On top of my job the amount of time I drive on the road puts me at a higher percentage of being in a car accident. I began to understand the fear in my wife's statement, “Are you coming home tonight.?” All that combined with the killing of unarmed black men in the news has my wife/ family on high alert. A couple of years ago I ignorantly thought the police would never harass mebeing that I work closely with them, I even have a couple offriends who are police so this isn’t an attack, but the seemingly increase in the number of black men being killed WITH video evidence of police using extreme force is worrisome and almost always equals no justice for the victim, the victim’s family, and the community. That has me extra cautious about my baby boy when he grows up because most likely he is going to be a large black man like his father, uncles, and grandfather that andI am terrified of being stopped by the police and my son growing up in a world that fears his skin and his large size.
The night after Terrence Crutcher was shot my wife and I were fed-up asking ourselves, how can this just keep happening? We turned the TV off and went to bed. While I was sleeping I was woken-up by my wife. She punched me and the forceshook me to my soul. "I need you to be here. We need you to be here!” Confused as to why my wife punched me, I didn’t understand her statement till she made me sit-up and explained, “Your presence is needed in our lives for me and your son. You bring something to our home that can't be matched. When you come home from work and open up the back door our son gets a smile that only you can put on his face. That smile can't be duplicated and if you are gone our son will miss you and he will never have that smile knowing his father is home. I know you're stubborn and I fear if you are stopped by the police I wont see you again.
It was a simple yet important reminder of the importance of my presence in my family's lives.
I've worked in the dependency system since 2011 and I’ve seen how badly minority clients are treated comparatively to white clients. I realizedthat low in-come families are criminalized more due to poor legal representation and unconscious bias when severing minority families. I’ve seen how the dependency system mirrors the criminal system with the over criminalization of minority areas. In my workplace I see how my presence (me being a big black man) is needed and valued. I say that because a high majority of the families that I serve are minorities. Representation matters! I think when a minority family has a minority case manager; a good case manager at that it can alleviate the stress of going through the dependency system. In my job men are scarce and the number of black men is even fewer.
This country is at an crossroads where faith within the black community is beingtested and we need to exhibit the faith the size of mustard seed and rebuke evil forces in our path. With everything the black community has suffered I take comfort in reading Psalms 121 and knowing that God has not slept on injustice and he has not forgotten about his people