Monthly Archives: October 2011

Treat Em Right!

Dear Akamo:

In your many marriages, what was the one thing that went wrong, or what was the most repeated problem? Basically, what does a sister need to do to keep your interest?

KC

Response:

Funny you should ask. I was recently pondering over this subject when ear-hustling a conversation between a young couple. They couldn’t have been much older than 20. Still wet behind the ears, but I see that the young man had a genuine interest in the sister and wanted to “get it right”. Yay for young love!

I can’t summarize my failed marriages into one problem, other than the fact that I chose women that I was completely incompatible with. But marriage is not about compatibility, in my opinion. We all have our similarities and differences, and the survival of a relationship depends on how well we connect with our similiarities and how we deal with our differences. Doesn’t matter if I like seafood and she likes red meat–where we differ should not hurt our feelings for each other nor should it affect our willingness to stay together. I think the only place we should be “compatible” is in how we manage our relationships–how we handle arguments and disagreements, how well we respect each other’s differing opinions on things like discipline of the kids, and rules with the household, religion and lifestyle, etc. If we can find a common ground there, we are “compatible”. All else is irrelevant.

That said, here are the things that went wrong in my marriages. They overlap my marriages, some things were more damaging in one but not the others, stuff like that:

  • Ungratefulness–this is one that I really find intolerable. I am good to you and your children, bust my ass providing and maintaining a comfortable, loving home, but the second you get mad at me, you swear I haven’t done anything for you. I have been a stepfather in each one of my marriages–an attentive one at that–and yet each woman when we were “going through it” swore that my role as stepfather was unnecessary or irrelevant. And get this:  each time we split up, I am always told that I was missed, and they’ve asked me to continue being a “good Dad”. Ditto that for being the provider, being a lover and friend, and trying to be a good husband.
  • Yelling and fighting–I will not stay with a woman who yells, argues, throws things, has tantrums, and otherwise cannot control herself. In all six marriages, I had hot-tempered women who embarassed me at my job, in public, and destroyed my belongings. My children witnessed my last two wives do the same only a few times. No woman who treats a calm, non-combative man will keep him, period. I’m sorry, but I have too many options and my self-esteem is too high for me to put up with this crap. If you have a shitty man, fight all you want. But if you have a good man, just know that mistreating him will get rid of him with the quickness. There are too many women who know how to treat a brother for him to stay with your spoiled ass.
  • Insulting and name-calling–baby, how old did you say you were? Would you like me to slap you in the mouth? Well, insulting and engaging in name-calling is the same thing as physical abuse. The difference is that years after the abuse occurs, the emotional abuse still stings, while the bruises of a well-placed (and sometimes well-deserved) punch in the mouth have disappeared. I have the capacity to be an abuser, but I will never stay around long enough to actually become one. My exes are prone to being abused by their husbands, and I honestly believe these sisters looked at me as a “punk” because I never did it. There were times, however, I would have been justified in doing it–it’s just not me. Good luck with that.
  • Threatening to screw other men–yeah, you read that right (pick your jaw back up)–I’ve had women threaten to fuck other men when they got mad at me. Woman, are you serious? You think you’ll keep a husband when you allow some shit like this to come out of your mouth? Check this:  I even had a bitch tell me she screwed two dudes while we were married, yet she still sends me “I miss our good times/you were a good husband” bullshit emails and text messages late at night. You must be kidding. Who is teaching these women the secrets to keeping a man? Good lord.
  • Taking your frustrations out on my children–mm hmm. They would come home and yell at my kids. I put a stop to that shit real quick. This is what led to the end of my last two marriage. My children only have one childhood, and I’ll be damned if I let some temporary broad ruin it. If I marry you, you’re here for life. But violate one of the deal-breaking no-nos, and you’re as temporary as a U.S. President’s promises.

Boy did I put my stuff on blast! Well, you came here for honesty and you got it. Thanks for visiting my blog.

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Cheap Aftershave and Coffee

It’s raining out here in Sacramento, California, and it sucks for me because of two things:  Arthritis and bidness.

I have arthritis. I’ve had it since my early 20s, the result of years of sadistic martial arts training at the hands of my martial arts teachers–all of whom were old men and didn’t know much about sports science. So, everytime it rains, my joints swell and ache, and I have to warm up in order to warm up in order to work out. LOL

On the other hand, I am also self-employed and my business depends on me being able to get out and pass out fliers to bring more traffic through the door. Now, don’t get me wrong. Mustafa Akamo is a soldier. A lil rain doesn’t scare me, and I will get my hindpots out there and work just as hard as if it were a nice sunny day; I’ve got discipline if nothing else. But because of the sore joints, the cold air, and the wet clothes, it makes my job very unpleasant. At the same time, it is a labor of love and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In the words of the baby Dave Chappell met selling drugs in the ghetto, “Bitch, I got kids to feed!” Oh, damn.

So this morning, I bounce out of bed at 5:15 a.m. rather than lounge around reading silly posts on Facebook, and jokes on the Zeta Phi Beta and Phi Beta Sigma message board. I jumped in the shower, paid my bodily rent to the creator of the Heavens and Earth (i.e., Fajr prayer), drank my coffee (Hawaiian coffee that is–gracias, señorita Especial o kapatid ko (can’t remember who bought it for me)–and headed down to the local AM/PM to fuel up the Mustafa-mobile.

Something about the AM/PM… any morning you get there, during the week, you will find about 20-30 Hispanic males, all who seem to be loitering in the parking lot. In this group, there are illegal immigrants on a gamble and a prayer, out of work men who are too proud to beg (brothers take note!), fathers, husbands, and sons. These men are out here at the crack of dawn, daily. Rain or shine, 50 degrees (which is hecka cold for California) or 100 degrees, these brothers come here like this is their job. Often, they find work. Sometimes, they go home empty handed. Never one to be discouraged by a few hurdles and setbacks, the Mexican man has been to hell and back. He has been spat upon by every race he has ever come in contact with. And to make things worse, he more often than not has no idea of the kings and warriors he once was. He happens to think that the Aztec and the Mayan are an extinct culture. Many are Cherokee and Iriquois blood. They were kings who ruled this continent when Europeans thought the Earth was flat. He ran a society so advanced and science so exact, he had a calendar, two years in advance, that predicted what dates it would rain. When Columbus arrived in the New World, he noted in his journal that these naked heathens he found had no criminals or prisons. Their language had no word for “steal” and “murder” and “rape”. He traded with African sailors when Europeans were discovering that there was people on the other end of the Mediterranean Sea. When Van Humbolt arrived in Mexico, he found African artwork and–get this–Africans. Then his land is taken from him, and he forgets that he was once the big boss around here. His enslavement lasted about 400 years, before he was granted the freedom to be his own person and have his own country.

Does this story sound familiar?

One of the most important things the Mexican has is his sense of self. So, yes, maybe he did forget that he is really an Aztech who speaks Spanish. But in his freedom he has established a new culture–the Mexican culture–and he is fiercely commited to preserving his identity, even when he takes a white woman for a wife, his children are always reminded that they are Mexican.

Which explains what happened when I went inside to pay for gas.

I go in after pondering all that I ponder (lol), and I am observing men. Brothers from ages 18 to 60, gathering around the register to pay for their coffee and bagels, none of them really knowing whether they will get their money back by the end of the day, but making the trip (often on foot) to the local gas station hoping for a day’s wages to feed their families anyway. As I take in all of this, I am listening to the conversation, and smelling the smell of cheap aftershave and coffee… Ah! The smell of

Daddies.

That’s right. If it’s one thing I know about my Spanish-speaking brothers, it’s that these men take a shitload of pride in being a father, and that role takes precedence over everything they aspired to be before they become a father. When that baby arrived, the brother is most likely married to the mother by then, he has worked and already thrown a party, and his mission in life is to provide for that child. Even if it means he will take work that most of us would turn our noses up to. Even if it meant he would spend every morning as part of some barely-noticed landscape by middle-class Americans filling their gas-guzzlers, afraid of being robbed or asked for a handout. Even if it meant they will bust their asses for less than minimum wage while the guy who’s paying him will go to the polls and try to vote him out of the country because he really resents his presence. He swallows his pride, because pride don’t put food on the table or clothe little ones or make wives happy. Even if it meant he would wear thrift store clothing, shave with Dollar Store razors, and slap on cheap aftershave in order to have enough money to send his wife to Walmart to buy new clothes for the children. This is what men do; they do whatever it takes to do their job as men, as fathers, as husbands.

I went to get cheap gas, and I got a dose of what manhood is all about. And for every brother out there who claims that we can’t work because the white man is preventing us (or the world is evil and racist), I wanna slap the shit out of you, and then embrace you and treat you to coffee while we hang with our Brown brothers. There is work out here. The white man can’t stop you. And even though there are white cats out here who swear these Mexican brothers are taking jobs away from “real” Americans–not only do I want to slap the shit out of you guys, but I want to kick you in the balls too. Let me tell you something:  A lot of the work these brothers do won’t get done if they don’t do it. People come down here because they can’t afford to hire a company or certified ‘anything’! Dummy, it’s a recession out here! Get a life!

And for the rest of us, I remember when I use to ride past The Cadillac Liquor Store in Northeast DC as a child and see the same scenery, but with Black men instead. We worked under the radar for whatever reason, and took whatever work we could, because we needed money. What happened to that? Are we too proud now? This is a very basic thing for our people. Yet for some reason, we have forgotten that there is always work–you just have to go out and find it. And sometimes, if you stand in the right place, it will come to you.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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Out and About: Good Dads

Whoever said there aren’t any good Black men out here don’t know what the hell they’re talking about! Meet Ronald and his baby girl…

 So, Mustafa Akamo is a Globe-trotter.

 
I’m not always getting out–especially lately, but at least I see the world around me as much as I can. (Remind me to tell you about my philosophy on being self-employed!) Being a writer, I happen to be a keen observer and master situation psychoanalyzer;  I am constantly texting myself reminders to “write about” this and “write about” that. But along with being an observant and intuitive man, I also happen to be a very big procrastinator–which leads to you guys coming out to check out the page a lot more often and finding nothing. (That’s why you should subscribe, baby–find out as soon as I post!)
 
Lately, one thing I have noticed is that there seems to be a lot of good Black fathers out here–a lot more than you folks give credit to. And no matter how many times I tell you, many of you simply won’t believe it and will insist that the Black Father is a thing of the past. So this is what Mustafa Akamo will do:  I will prove it to you by introducing them to you as I find them. Each unmarried, Black father has a story that I think should be told. As a Muslim, I believe wholeheartedly in the institution of marriage. As a African man in the African Diaspora, I understand that marriage is a millenia-old tradition and rite of passage that no African culture ignores. We as Black men are genetically predisposed to having a wife and family, and because we are not engaging in this practice regularly it is throwing our emotional, behavioral, psychological, and cultural balance out of whack.
 
Simply put, the Black man is not himself without a family. Where a Black man exists with no family, he is usually morally corrupt, he is unfocused, and he cannot reach his full potential. I know this to be a fact. No matter how rich he may become, without a wife the Black man is not complete, and he is poor.
 
Therefore, I commit to showing you that the Black man is at least a father more often than he is given credit for being.
 
Case in point #1:  Meet Ronald (The attractive brother in the picture above)
 
So, I am on the Greyhound heading to Union City to visit my sister. Why Greyhound, Mustafa?
 
Glad you asked. My car is acting a fool lately, and I don’t want to take it on the freeway, especially 2 hours away. I love my sister and my mother with all my heart, but I ain’t getting stranded on the freeway in order to see them. LOL. So, I had to choose between Amtrak and Greyhound, and although only Amtrak is $7 higher–I couldn’t get a trip early enough and I thought it would be interesting. I found the Greyhound station on Richards Boulevard to be clean and new (it was) and DRUG ADDICT-FREE. That’s right. A couple of overweight, but wannabe cop, security guards were on their job that day and trust me, these brothers weren’t playing. A little comical, but appreciated. Plus there is a Police station next door with Po-pos who eat in the station, and you know how addicts and Negroes tend to avoid Cops like real men avoid Gay bars. As a result my FOUR HOUR WAIT was pleasant and stress-free. I read two books, wrote some poetry, chopped it up with best homie on the phone, and watched this brother interact with his adorable baby girl.
 
And I got to thinking. Where was he going? What was the situation that he was in? Babygirl (from this point forward, known as “Azizah“, an excellent name, as in Arabic, the name means “powerful”. Any girl with a loving father who protects her, provides for her, and shows her what to look for in a man when she gets older by BEING that kind of man is indeed going to grow up powerful) obviously loves her Daddy. Age 2, she was bombarding him with questions about the world. Daddy, what’s that? Daddy, what’s he doing? Daddy why are you doing that? Dad patiently answered each question. No texting, no phone conversation. Just giving lil Mami his full attention, sharing french fries with her and paying no attention to the few attractive girls by the ticket counter checking him out. A site to behold, y’all.
 
Dad (from this point forward, called “Ron”) looked to be about 6’2″. He had a fresh new hair cut, clothes were clean and ironed, pants all the way up (yay Dad!), articulate and had a strong appearance and fit build. No doubt his ex-woman must regret losing him. But guess what? Despite that he was once engaged to Azizah’s mother (“we just didn’t work out”, he says–no name calling, blame shifting, gotta love that), he has visitation with his daughter without a fight. Ron had all the tools needed to have a ton of women at his beck and call. Yet he is not in the market of chasing women. If you ask me, I’d say this brother still loved his daughter’s mother, but don’t quote me on that. He was very respectful of Baby Momma, and had nothing bad to say about her. When was the last time y’all saw that? If he is no longer in love with BM, then he is certainly mature and ready for the next relationship.
 
Au contraire, Mustafa. Ron says he has no woman, but the only thing he has on his mind is work (he works in a warehouse) and raising Babygirl (okay, although I love the name Azizah, I adore the nickname). My kind of brother. Take your time, get your money right, make sure Babygirl is happy. When the right woman comes around, she will wait until you’re ready. Daughter comes first. After God. (Oh, I did forget to ask if there was a spiritual journey he was taking. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was on one.)
 
The pair were on their way to his sister’s house in Vallejo. What a coincidence! He takes this trip about twice a month, is originally from Oakland, and because he lives here in Sacramento with roommates and his sister has two children, ages 3 and 4, who are her playmates during the visits–they hang out in Vallejo. Ron picks up his daughter twice a week, and every other Saturday and Sunday. He is pulling temp work, but working consistently, while looking for something more permanent. No complaining, he seems content. The whole time we talked, which was only a few minutes–his attention was fully focused on mini-Ron, while politely obliging me.
 
His own father was not involved very much. Not that they had a bad relationship–his father was around and in the household–but his father spent a little too much time in the streets. Ron intends to give his daughter more than that and break that cycle. He has two brothers and one sister, and I am sure that they are cut from the same cloth he is, and that’s a good thing.
 
We are in charge of our destinies, and most importantly, in control of our children’s lives and happiness. While Dad’s father wasn’t fully involved in Ron’s life, it didn’t stop him from giving his daughter the kind of father she deserved. Things didn’t work out between him and his ex-fiancee, and he is still keeping things workable between them in order to give Babygirl a happy childhood. We all could learn a little something-something from this.
 
For me, at least–I have an example to use for my own relationship between me and my littlest baby’s Momma (ex-wife #5). And because of Ron, I am winning:
Ahem. Mustafa Akamo–1
The-Ain’t-No-Good-Black-Men-Out-Here Haters–0.
 
Thank you, my brother. I wish you well.
 
And thank y’all for visiting my blog.
 

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Ask Akamo: Sister with Troubled Marriage

Dear Akamo,

My sister is married to a man she met through church. He is the kind of guy who when you meet him everybody likes him, until you find out more about him. Basically, he’s a loser. Nice guy, but he has lied to her about having a warrant (he didn’t tell her, and then one day a few months into the marriage, he was arrested on a traffic stop), he has lost his job and hasn’t been able to find a job due to the bad record, and she is pulling her hair out trying to get bills paid. He has no income. But in his defense, I will say that he is good to her children (ages 8, 13, 17, and 22) and gives them the father figure they never had, goes to church, and appears to be faithful. I don’t want to be responsible for telling her to divorce him (which I think she should), because she obviously loves him. My sister has a Master’s degree and is capable of doing well, but she doesn’t need another mouth to feed. But what good can he do if he isn’t providing for her and the children?

TC

Dear TC:

First, DON’T tell your sister to leave him. Good lord! It’s their marriage, and not yours. If he isn’t hurting her or cheating on her (which I believe would hurt her)–then stay out of it, barring words of advice and encouragement!

Second, you say that he isn’t providing for her and the children, but didn’t you say that he is “good” to her children and gives  them the father they’ve never had? That–my friend–sounds like “providing” to me! Okay, so the brother doesn’t make money. But he did have a job before getting arrested, right? If you know he can’t find a job because of his record then I’m assuming that he’s looking. So it’s not like he isn’t working because he just doesn’t want to. It appears he was working in the beginning and is willing to do it. Let me ask you a question:  How important do you believe having a father in a child’s life is? Even if that “child” is 22, do you agree that a father is priceless? How much money does he need to make in order to be qualified… No. Let me reword that. How much money would your sister pay (or should she pay) in order to have a good father in her children’s lives? I know people that would have paid millions to give their children a father. Just some food for thought.

Third, so he lied. He didn’t tell her that he was in trouble? Was he a child molester? Did he kill someone? I think that is pretty important, it does raise an eyebrow. HOWEVER, they are married. People mess up. Your sister loves him. The children love him. He loves all of them. There is a church-going man in the household. WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? He can’t be forgiven? Malcolm X was a thief, a pimp, even kidnapped people. Should black people have forgiven him or write him off? Good people mess up, and it doesn’t mean they should forever be exiled from our lives or our love. Have you ever had a friend who had once been dishonest? Maybe cheated on a loved one? Are they still your friend? If anyone should be capable of forgiveness, surely it would be one’s sworn mate for life–for better or worse. So right now, they are in “worse”. But it’s not “worst”–I can think of many things far worse than hiding a fact that may prevent him from marrying the woman he loves. I would have done far worse to get any of my ex wives to marry me.

Face it. They are married, and in it. She loves him and will be miserable without him–and I’m sure the kids wouldn’t want to see him go either. The 22 year old I’m assuming lives at home and need guidance. The little one sounds like he’s never known a father in the home. The teens are at the stage that they need to see a nuclear family if they are to grow up to have one themselves. You said your sister is a college grad, so maybe she ought to be the breadwinner. His record probably needs some time to fix itself, and maybe the time off will allow him to bond with the children and heal from whatever psychological damage done from years of having no father. Is there a rule that says a woman who is capable of making more money shouldn’t make more money? If they both work, who will take care of home? Her, after work? Maybe your sister is dying to get into the workforce and get a break from dealing with kids all day, since she’s had a few years of doing it alone?

I say:  Let them work it out. Print this article and give it to them. When they married I’m sure they vowed to work though whatever comes their way. Whether that “thing” is joblessness, a lie, whatever. (Barring infidelity and abuse) I think she should focus on getting a job with that Master’s that will give them at least a decent standard of living, and then his job would be to make sure kids are taken back and forth, homework is done, house is clean (you didn’t say if homeboy can cook, but now is a good time to learn), and to teach the older kids that a MAN handles business–regardless of what obstacles are thrown his way–as well as the “bulletproofness” that marriage is supposed to be. It is as precious as a diamond, as indestructible as a mountain, as permanent as a memory, as stainless as steel, and as weathered as the earth itself–and let no man or his foolishness or situation separate them. He is human; we all are. She is his wife, and if she loves him truly–she can forgive whatever mistakes he made. Those kids need a father, and if she found a man who was willing to take her on and love her and her children, well she just found a needle in a haystack.

Because no one promised the knight in shining armor would be infallible. He may not be perfect, but two people who love each other and willing to get through anything are always perfect.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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