December 9, 2011

A Tale of Two Guys

I watched Tyler Perry's "Daddy's Little Girls" last night. Or at least some of it. But what I saw hit me pretty hard. From what I could surmise, the story revolves around a single dad with sole custody of his daughters. He loses custody (kids were playing with matches) to his ex-wife, who's far from the ideal mom.

The dad character is a hard-working guy. He's smart, truly loves his girls and is pretty easy on the eyes. In other words, he reminded me of Jamie -- except Jamie's not black and I'm not an evil ex-wife. Throughout the movie, the dad hits different walls, including romantically. At first, his love interest - a high-powered attorney who's also black -- wants nothing to do with him because she's got preconceived stereotypes about black men from "the hood": bad credit; Baby Daddies'; lazy; ex-cons...and pretty much whatever else you see black artists doing on hip-hop videos.

She tells him all that, pretty much verbatim, and it was harsh. A verbal castration, really.

Then I thought about my brother - who is pretty much like the dad in the story (except for the kids and evil ex-wife). Who in turn, is very much like my husband. They're two hard-working, non-college-educated guys. But I guess that's where the similarities end. If you put my husband in a suit, outside of looking hot, someone could look at him and assume that he's a college educated office guy. Same suit on my brother: bad credit; Baby Daddy; lazy; excon.

Growing up, we were taught that we'd have some humps to overcome when it came to race -- it just went with the territory of living in the skin we're in. We also knew that the humps weren't any excuse to not live up to our God-given potential; so as kids, we weren't suprised with the DWB Stops (Driving While Black) in the suburban parts of Milwaukee; learned to laugh off the department store detectives who followed us as soon as we entered and even at the people who decided we'd understand them better if they "talked black" to us.

But even with that attitude, even with our educations and ability to be "articulate", I know that these two guys who I love so much, and who are so alike, are living very different lives.

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