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Positive Messages: For Young Men Growing Up Without Their Fathers

An excerpt from Positive Messages for young men growing up without their fathers by Marc Anthony Butcher

When I was six and seven I constantly wondered why I didn’t deserve to have a father, the other half of my biological parents. I knew what my mother told me. She had left him.
“But why?”
“He was a black jellyfish”; a Black man with no backbone (that’s heavy).
“Then why did you have three sons with him?” (I was the third.) There was no answer.
Over time I realized the answer was she had made a poor decision when she married him. I met him much later.
It was at my first holy communion. He had come to the church and after the ceremony, my father gave me a quarter and told me to share it with my brothers. It was My Celebration, and My Father gives me a cheap twenty-five cents and tells me to share it.
So I took it home and gave it to my mother and told her what he had said, and I refused to take it from her when she tried to hand it back to me.
I didn’t hear from him again, not a postcard or a letter, not even a phone call; that is until I was nineteen years old. I happened to be at my mother’s house for a change of clothes (it was still my address, but by then I was spending most of my time elsewhere), and her former husband calls. She says, “It’s your father,” and hands me the telephone.
When I put the phone to my ear and said “Hello,” he said, “Boy, you so intelligent, you’re stupid!”
I took the phone from my ear and just let it dangle by my side, and thought I should hold it long enough to let my mother think I was actually speaking with him. I then put the phone back to my ear and said, “Excuse me, my mother wants to talk to you.” I called my mother and gave the phone back to her.
Here was this man who had not provided my family with any support, a man I didn’t know and cared even less about, telling me his opinion of me. He must have heard me on a late night radio talk show discussing the students’ position about open enrollment. Very bluntly –with no ‘hello, how are you’—he’s going to tell me something about stupid intelligence for involving myself in a cause and closing down CCNY (this was back in 1969).
After I had handed the phone back to my mother, I finished my pit-stop change and left the house. That was the last time my father ever said anything to me.
Seventeen years later, and now fourteen years ago, I received a phone call from my half-brother, who I never knew existed, informing me that our father had died and had been buried.
Shortly after this, I began thinking of the many things that might have made a difference to me if I had been told better, like “here, look at it this way,” or even to have been asked once in a while, “what do you think?”
And so, for the past twelve years I have been formulating these positive messages to instill a particular type of thought in the mind of each person who may read them.
Once a mind is exposed to an idea, it triggers a flood of thoughts; the mind is forever changed and so is the person.
A young mind is open to suggestion. It is fertile and ripe for planting seeds of information. The information, if positive, will affect future decisions you might make. So many young people spend years trying to decide where they are going, but I’m not sure that they question why, for what purpose, to what end or mission?
My intention is to add something extra to the lives of young men who, like me, won’t know their fathers, or are just too distant from them, for whatever reason. I have worked at keeping a moral tone in these messages and hope this will influence what you choose to do for the rest of your life.

Marc Anthony Butcher
Positive Messages for young men growing up without their fathers by Marc Anthony Butcher
Brooklyn, NY

I was riding the train after going in the wrong direction. I sat for about 30 minutes with my eyes closed. When I opened them briefly, I saw this man’s poetic crown standing by the door. I remembered I took a picture of him from behind four or five years ago at the #IAAFfestival in Brooklyn. I never saw his face. He had a sign on his back he wore to promote his self-published books and poetry. I was blessed to finally meet the wise king. He was actually just getting off the train. He allowed me to interview him and was kind enough to give me one of his books. “Positive Messages – For young men growing up without fathers.” I have not put the book down yet. His words came right on time. I’ll be sharing segments from his book on the @proudpoppas pages soon. Thank you, Mr. Marc Anthony Butcher.
Photo by Tyrone Z. McCants

From the back cover.

What happens during your first seven years leaves you with scars that can take forever to heal. If you’ve been abandoned by either of your parents, for whatever reasons, you’ve been scarred by imbalance. Your psyche, the gateway to your will and the dooryard to your self-esteem, has been cluttered with cumbersome obstacles. How you overcome them is supposedly your own personal challenge. Many a grown man will not advise another male child for fear of having to be too candid and honest. For hard-learned wisdom is also laced with the shame of confession. But Marc Anthony Butcher has taken care of that hurdle for you with his own honesty. Thus, this book is a blessing. A refreshing, frank and thought-provoking collection of solid advice for all young men in need of direction and focus, especially those, who like Marc, did not grow up in their father’s presence. Parents, relatives, and friends who may not know quite where to start with those needed talks will find this book most useful. The range of topics and advice offered here are consistent enough to serve as a solid base for good discussion. But Marc’s approach is not just about sex education, religious and ethical instruction, or about lying, cheating and following the wrong crowd; this book is inundated with care and concern and with practical guidelines for living life fully. Not one entry is dry or puritanical, but earthy and real. The author’s focus is on the need to communicate, and he does it with such sensitivity that you can’t help but feel good about having read it and wanting to share it. Louis Reyes Rivera

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About Proud Poppas United

A former Youth Division Aide and Mental Health Therapist with the Office of Children and Family Services turned his reduction-in-force experience into a win-win situation, and many are reaping this harvest. When Tyrone “Zire” McCants, who is also a versatile services photographer and visionary in the Phoenix, AZ, lost his job; he took his youthful interest in photography and his prior knowledge from working in a family-centered position into new ventures. He even figured out a way to coincide his two passions into meaningful opportunities to advance his cause. The layoff he faced freed him up to develop his photography business (Zire Photography & Graphics) and to showcase his skills as a prolific artist. One of those ventures that McCants created was an initiative called Proud Poppas United; which is a community-based group designed to strengthen the bonds between fathers & their children. It aims to encourage a tradition of fatherhood and family, increasing the number of active fathers in our community. When McCants isn’t intellectually cultivating his repertoire of talents, he manages to merge his interest in photography with his desire and passion for fatherhood. Using the Proud Poppas Photo Project, as his flagship initiative, he displays images which celebrate and encourage the pride of being an active father. In many minority and ethnic communities, there is a progressive concern of absentee fathers and the devastating effects of this challenge on our children, our families, and community. He also believes that by displaying these images will help to shed light on and celebrate the gift of fatherhood. He hopes that this movement will also become contagious and bring other men closer to their children and families, and encourage a presence of well-being and development in our children, our families, our communities and our people as a whole. McCants quotes that “My scope is capturing the energy between a father and his children” and that’s what he is creating through his community development initiatives. Through, a first look into the reality concerning “Responsible Fathers” many disturbing statistics and contributing factors related to absent fathers. But, to the credit of McCants, he has been able to overlook the negative stereotypes and prejudices that have perpetuated his community and rise to the occasion. Although, he wears many hats that provide guidance and leadership to the infrastructure of his life’s purpose. To all of the fathers out there with the silent victories of triumph and the principle-centered leadership; who fight depression, financial woes, relationship conflicts, the penal system and the racism of our day; McCants say’s “Thank you” for all that you have been able to get accomplished behind your veil of anonymity. You have just endured the last 13 years of this millennium, and you are still here to tell about it. Although some will say that these last few years have been amazing they are still asleep to the fact that; we (The black community) must work with higher ideals versus dollars and cents. We must look within ourselves and see us as being brave, black, accountable, and reliable. The truth of the matter is that you are embracing fatherhood but at a frequency that may not be understood. I am with you as we will not look at the diluted statistics but at the “transformational leadership” that is displayed by all black fathers and role models everywhere. Don’t give up now as our families are leaning on you in these times of difficulty to represent us to the best of your ability as the “Mighty Men of Valor.” You are the man for the job, and now it’s time to come out of hiding and show the world what real black men look like; and we represent as a tribe of Intellectual builders, teachers, warriors, leaders and Kings. “Fatherhood is not a right; it’s a privilege. Your children are the best part of you. I send my love to this new generation of fathers who have learned from the sins of the past and take a very active role in the lives of our children. ~RAPPER TALIB KWELI, FATHER OF TWO


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