Niagara Gazette

June 14, 2013

HAMILTON: Fathers Day in the ghetto

By Ken Hamilton
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — There is something unusual about the Rashads, the Jamals and the other similarly named young men that we can see walking up and down the streets of any city.

Often, you can easily spot them, too. We see them as athletes that are dressed in what they call urban clothing.

That, of course, means that their boxer shorts are high above the cracks of their rears and their trousers are sagging beneath the bottom creases of their buttocks — and it seems that they just don’t care about themselves, or about anyone else, doesn’t it?

We judge them, don’t we — yet do we even know these people?

However, I am finding that more and more of those aforementioned young men are not dribbling a basketball in front of themselves, as they meander down the streets. In fact, while too many are, most aren’t even wearing sagging pants. And they are not all named Rashad or Jamal, either.

Instead, many of them that are pushing a baby buggy and the kid strolling inside it own is their own!

You’ll notice those strollers too, if you take your eyes off their buttocks for a minute.

In general, today’s society has too often taken fathers for granted; and that is not just those urban fathers, either — it is all fathers.

Somehow, something in our DNA directs our desire to protect those whom we have long perceived as being the weaker of humanity — you know, ‘women and children first.’

Men, who wear red and blue ties with their business suits and fill our legislative halls, and many of those who don black robes, have passed and ruled on compassionate and compensating laws that have empowered those latter two groups, the women and the children.

Perhaps, in compensating them, has our society also further weakened the role of fathers? If so, it isn’t just young urban fathers, either, is it?

May I direct your attention from the Rashds and Jamals to the Homer Simpsons and the Peter Griffins for a moment? Where are the similar cartoon stereotypes of mothers?


More so than even the Homer Simpsons and the Peter Griffins, by hook or by crook, the faceless Rashads and Jamals have already been weakened enough by society. They likely receive more negative criticism than anyone else does, and would they not therefore be likely respond by doing some of the negative things that they do, like wearing their pants sagging in rebellion?

But these fathers, as do other fathers, nonetheless, love their children just as much as mothers love them; but fathers just love them in a different way.

It is true that most of our state’s 400 or so homicides per year are overwhelmingly committed by men like the Rashads and Jamals; but aren’t all men, when by their physical strength and by their societally weakened legal standing, have historically been apt to lash out in that way?

But, these fellows have hearts, too. Men, like the generous mechanic Rod Saunders, have given me a load of children and baby clothes or toys to drop off to the loving staff at Summit Life Outreach Center on Pine and 17th Street. While there, I not only see at least one or two of the Rashads and Jamals with the mothers of their babies; but I also see the Bart Simpsons and Chris Griffins there, too. All of them are learning and selecting the things that will make them better parents. The mothers are encouraged and helped to keep their babies, while the fathers are encouraged and taught to protect and better parent them.

We all need to understand that while fellows with their boxer shorts worn high above the cracks of their rears and their trousers sagging beneath the bottom creases of their buttocks do not project the most positive of images to us, such doesn’t necessarily mean that they just don’t care about themselves, or about anyone else, either. They do care, but just in a different way.

And if we cared more for them, then just maybe, they would care more about what we think of them — as they stroll down the streets of the city, pushing their kids in baby buggies; even if there is a basketball in the buggy too!

Happy Fathers Day, fellows; and, ladies, the belts they sell on Military Road makes a nice gift — for the rest of us.

Contact Ken Hamilton at