Understanding the characteristics and traits that we may have picked up from our parents can be vital in our development as adults.
So often in society, we start relationships and families without getting to know ourselves as well as our partners.
As a man, having the mental fortitude to seriously assess the long-term compatibility of a potential mate is a lost art.
After speaking with Sacramento, CA Radio Host and Community Organizer Jermaine Morris it was obvious that some people still find it important. We had the opportunity to discuss what he learned from his father, why he hasn’t had kids and the importance of getting involved in the community!!!
So, let’s get everything started. Tell us a little bit about your childhood?
I was born in Sacramento California. The family I grew up in was my parents and my siblings, which was two brothers right above me in age.
My father was married once before so I have a set of three older siblings, but I didn’t grow up with them. So, when I think of my childhood, I think of me, my two brothers and my parents. They were together until I was about 13 years old and then they divorced.
I went to go live with my mother, one brother had moved out already and the other brother went to live with my father.
So, I think if anything that was probably one of the definitive forks in the road for my development for the type of person that I became.
Now before your parents split, how influential was your father in your life and your childhood?
He was very influential. My father worked all the time, he was a garbage man. An old school garbage man too, not like now. The old way was two dudes hanging off the truck with the one guy in the front.
My grandfather was a garbage man too. My grandfather was a garbage man and a part-time security guard, and my father was a garbage man and a part-time security guard.
Ironically enough, I went into security at a particular part of my life, never was a garbage man though. Now, because of that, he was an extremely hard worker. He never took days off, never called in sick.
Throughout my entire childhood, short of a family vacation, I can only think of maybe three to four times he called in sick. One of the times he cut his foot through his boot stepping on some broken glass while working. He had to get stitches and come home. Once he got stung by a bee multiple times, so he had to come home then too.
There was one other time that he had a really bad illness but we are talking about in like a decade-and-a-half. So, working hard to get what you want is something that he really instilled in me.
So, my father was really big on going to work every day and being in a position to provide. He was very principled. I would say it was definitely a major influence and actually set the groundwork for the type of person that I grew up to be.
Ok, it seems like your father instilled some good qualities in you. Now, how did it affect you when the split happened?
So, there are many different facets to divorce that we don’t give enough credit too. A lot of times when we see two people get divorced, we think the husband and wife can’t see eye-to-eye anymore, so they can’t be together.
When you talk about custody, typically you start thinking of okay let’s arrange the child support and the visitations. When my brother went to live with my father and I went to live with my mother, things changed.
There is definitely a relationship that changes between the parent and child, based on where the child goes. The state didn’t send me to my mom, I chose to live with my mom. I was just closer to my mom.
That changed the dynamic between me and my father. I think he took it a little personal and that’s something that I’ve looked at as I’ve gotten older too. Often times, we look at how the parents are affected financially but there is a relationship change that happens.
If the child says I want to go live with the parent that you currently don’t get along with, someone who is not your favorite person on earth right now, that may hurt. So, I think that’s what happens with me and my father. I didn’t feel differently about him, but I believe he felt a little differently about me.
Ok, so your father may have felt you picked your mother over him. Have you and your father had the opportunity to hash out some of your differences?
So, we don’t really have much of a relationship now. That’s not due to a blow-up and there wasn’t a big fight or anything. I think almost to the equivalent of him and my mother, I think we just grew apart as father and son.
I think there was a pivotal moment where I was developing and there was a pivotal moment as to who he was developing into. I was 13 years old maybe 14 years old, my father is 26 years older than me. My father was roughly the same age I am now when all of that happened.
The shift in that phase of life for him, and the shift in that phase of life for me, just didn’t happen together. The man that I would grow up to be and the path that he would continue to shift and become. He had been married his entire adult life, obviously with his first wife and then right into a situation with my mother.
So, this is the first time he was single. My brother that went to live with him was older, so he had a little more freedom. My father was close to 40 years old with some new-found freedom, he was kind of developing into the person that he was going to be.
I was in the 7th or 8th grade when that stuff was happening. I was just transitioning into the person that I was going to be, and those two people didn’t transition together.
With everything that you went through with your father, I’m sure you would have a lot of information to share with your kids. You mentioned not having children yet. Can you talk to us about that decision?
I will be honest and keep it 100, my father and his father didn’t always have the best relationship. Now, me and my grandfather had a phenomenal relationship, I believe that when my grandfather was younger he wasn’t the man he was when he got older.
I know the man that I got as a grandfather wasn’t the same man my father got as a father. So, I don’t make any comment on their relationship because I wasn’t there. In any event, it turned out they weren’t on the best of pages. I would hear certain things from my dad in regards to some traits he didn’t like about my grandfather.
It seemed as though every trait that he said he didn’t like about his father, I saw in him. As I grew up, I would realize that anything that you don’t address, you’re going to repeat. At the time, I wasn’t that evolved, so I just looked at it like I didn’t want to be that next stepping stone.
I looked at the relationship that my father would describe that he had with his father, and I looked at the relationship that I had with him and my brain was thinking unless I figure something out I am just going to perpetuate this thing. Because nobody planned on it being that way.
If you would have talked to my grandfather before he passed, he didn’t even understand his relationship with his son. He didn’t understand why it was, the way it was. I’m sure if you sat down and really spoke to my father, he probably wouldn’t be a hundred percent clear on why ours is the way it is.
So, a part of me made a conscious decision, there’s obviously something in me that I don’t necessarily need to fix but I need to identify, so I don’t mimic it. The second thing had to do with the women I chose. I came up with a personal life philosophy because I happen to be around a lot of people who were struggling with custody stuff, baby mama drama or whatever.
My thing was if I wouldn’t keep her, I have no business having a baby with her. If this is not a woman that I would marry, then there’s no reason for me to even talk about having a baby with you. So, the two go together, it was a conscious decision because there are some things I just didn’t want to perpetuate.
I didn’t want to have baby mamas all over the place. I didn’t want to have kids that I couldn’t be there for every day. I do value the two-parent household, I think that’s very important. If I wasn’t in a position to be in that kind of relationship or that type of environment, why would I do that to a child? Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean it’s to be done.
I definitely think that’s a philosophy men in our community should adopt. I listen to your radio show “A cold cup of coffee w/Jermaine Morris” and you share some same sentiments on your show. Talk to us about why you decided to do a radio show?
The radio show stems off of my blog amomentwithmorris.com. It’s just the audio version. I was contacted by the woman who owns the station and our relationship developed into an opportunity. The show is really based on getting yourself right for the week.
I provide some points and principles, usually, it’s two to three on a weekly basis, that you can apply right now. Regardless of whatever you do because none of them are based on where you work, or how much you make, if you’re married or single, it’s all about personal development.
A phrase you will hear all the time is, “Be the best version of yourself” Which is basically being accountable for yourself and getting to know yourself. I think that’s where a lot of people fall short. I think there are a huge self-identification and a self-esteem deficiency in our society. Most of us don’t know who we are, we don’t know our own value. I try to interject those types of points and principals into being the best version of ourselves and hopefully that can help somebody else.
Ok, I understand what you’re saying. Using your platform to help people become more aware is a great thing. I also noticed that you participate in a lot of community events. Why do you think that’s important?
Okay, so there was a shift. If you knew me years ago, I was the nightclub guy. I was the guy that was into nightclub promotions. I would also do artist management and marketing for some recording artists and stand-up comedians. I was The Party Guy, I was a DJ. I was just in the clubs, so I didn’t see that I had a personal responsibility.
At that time, if you talk to me one on one then yes, but not community-wise. I would be the guy that helps out, then you wouldn’t see me again. As I got a little older, I started seeing things in the community, maybe that just came with age.
But if I see something that I don’t like, I’m not one to just be a complainer. One of the major things I saw was children. Some of the ways that kids were developing, some of the behaviors that I saw. I just didn’t personally appreciate it and instead of going on the path of being that old dude that stands in the front yard telling kids to get off my lawn, I was like well, what can I do to help?
I’ve been fortunate enough in the industries that I’ve worked in that I’ve met different kinds of people. I work with all walks of life, so I started reaching out to people and connecting the dots. Okay since you do this over here, let me hook you up with this person over here to see if we can’t do this together.
The first main campaign that I did community wise was the Manhood Mentoring Conference. We did the first one a couple years ago and I reached out to my friends. Some were former NFL athletes, radio personalities, TV guys, community activist or whatever. We got together a forum and we brought in a bunch of young black man, not all black but primarily.
The first year’s campaign was honoring: Character, Integrity, and Living by principals, not just your feelings. I thought that was something that was lacking and so from that campaign I got involved with a bunch of other events. One of the gentlemen that I met by sheer chance, helped turn me on my path. I had my panel already set. I had Adrian Ross, Ontario Smith, Zo Williams and a bunch of other guys that came up.
Everybody really just did it for the love but it was one name that kept coming up, a guy named Berry Accius. So, I tracked him down because his name kept coming up. He didn’t know me, I didn’t know him, and I told him about the event. He had to vet me out. He had me go to three of his events before he was going to do mine to see how serious I was.
In doing that, I got introduced to a different culture, a bunch of people who were really involved in the community. I started seeing things that I wasn’t previously aware of. Same people, same town, same Community. I just didn’t know that they were here, and I didn’t know that’s what they did. I started getting more involved in other events so that led me into teaching about economics, finance, and history. It all started with me seeing some things that needed to be changed, rather than complain about it, I figured I’d get involved with it.
I completely agree with that, getting involved is the only way to positively affect your community. Ok, last question. How important do you think the black father is to the overall family structure?
Huge. A few years ago, I shot a short documentary and it’s called, Daddy Matters: Conversations on Black Fatherhood. It’s on YouTube. I didn’t want it to be something people had to pay for. I wanted everyone to be able to see it for educational purposes. I went and found different black men of varying ages, religious backgrounds, and professions.
The only criteria was, Are you a father or not? and Did you or did you not grow up with your father? I interviewed each of these guys. The reason why I did it was to show the different representations of fatherhood. Single dads, guys who are married, the guy who grew up in a single-parent household, the guy who grew up in a two-parent household.
What was uniform across-the-board was that fatherhood was important to everybody. I don’t look at it and say was a father being in the home important to you, I think it’s important for both parents to be in the home. I don’t think you get a better or necessarily a worst deal from a single mother opposed to a single father.
Different parents bring different things to the table. You get your confidence and self-esteem from your dad, so that’s why it’s so significant and important for the father to be in the household. You need the masculine and feminine energy in a household to raise a balanced child. I think that having both parents present and not just physically but actually present is what’s necessary to raise solid children.
Ok Jermaine, Thank you very much for speaking with Melanated Fathers of America!!!