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Kwasi Turner, who just happens to be my son, served as co-producer for the film, “Do They Fit?” which will be shown at the Cannes Film Festival in France this May. The film, written and produced by DeForest Mapp, was co-produced by Stefan Gonzalez and is a romantic dramady to be showcased in the Short Film Corner of the festival. The featured actors include Erric Thompson, Afi Ayanna, Christine Waller and Jasania Deshong.
This is the question that was posed to me recently at the 40th anniversary of the Bay View celebration held in San Francisco. On two separate occasions, women cited poor choices on the part of women as a serious contributor to the erosion of the family structure. Neither of them had any sympathy for women who select men they know from the outset do not measure up as potential fathers or, for that matter, even good friends.
Congratulations to Mary and Willie Ratcliff and Muhammad al-Kareem for the People’s Liberation Movement as manifested for 40 years in the San Francisco Bay View newspaper. Congratulations to the collective voices which have graced its pages over this history, especially ancestors such as Kevin Weston, and, to JR Valrey, much respect for envisioning such a wonderful tribute program on Feb. 21.
Some say, “Out of sight, out of mind,” but I know better and so do you. It takes more than fancy cars, a suit and tie slave gig or a house in a gated community to squelch the reality that too many thousands of Black fathers are missing from our communities. Yes, my brothers “inside,” you may not hear from us, the “straight johns” on the “outside” as often as you should, but I wanted to let you know that you are thought of and deeply valued.
Three wise men, actually young men, all presented me with a gift I didn’t dare refuse. The gift from each one was the same: a simple “check-in” via telephone to let me know they appreciated me and that our relationships meant a lot to them. Appreciation is an easy gift to share with someone you care about and, best of all, it doesn’t cost you anything. I hope that each of you will have an opportunity to give or receive this wonderful gift at some point during the year.
Although I have not yet been able to make my way back to my father’s house, I do know that he will welcome me because during my self-destructive ordeals he has been my beacon and never once waivered in being my refuge. To my fellow confined men, I encourage you to think about your fatherly journey if you have children. You must strive to dignify your father by living in the light of his integrity, personified by the things he did to be colored a father.
Family and friends who traveled from as far away as the Sierra Foothills and the San Francisco Peninsula were brought together in celebrating what was to be an upcoming birth forged by the union of Nicole Penney and Derrell Lewis. On Sept. 15, their beautiful son Amir was born. These two longtime friends, equally yoked in their demonstrated love and support for one another, are evidence that the future of our village is in good hands.
No matter where we stopped in the educational process and no matter what the reason, we all have more within us to share and to learn. We can be and do more, but what does it take to awaken the “authentic” fire that once burned when we were young or even in our adulthood? No matter the reason – and for each of us it will be different – it’s never too late to change “what if” to “maybe” to “I’ll give it a try.”
The Sonoma County Chapter of the ACLU held its annual Jack Green Awards Luncheon on May 3, 2015. A room filled with long time activists – attorneys as well as a new generation of community minded leaders – gathered to acknowledge this year’s honorees. Included were original founding member of the Black Panther Party Elbert “Big Man” Howard and his wife, Carole Hyams-Howard, a long time human rights activist and former community worker for the Black Panther Party.
In December 2012, local resident and New York Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia donated a tournament size pool table and flat screen television to the Florence Douglas Senior Center in Vallejo. The pool table served as a catalyst in attracting growing numbers of African American men, mostly fathers, to the center. The pool players and their senior supporters are denouncing the racist decision to remove the pool table.
The most important thing you can give any child is your time. This month I will share some activities and outings you can enjoy while sharing time with your children, grandchildren or the children of friends you are fortunate enough to have in your life. Here are a few suggestions of positive ways to spend some moments that will create memories to last long beyond when you and I are gone.
With all the miles traveled, lessons learned (hopefully) and general knowledge under our belts, we become incredible sources of joy and wonder for the children in our lives. Here are some of the roles we can play in supporting and enriching the lives of the children around us. Remember that we each bring unique talents and abilities to this life and so do our children.
Now that I am a grandfather, I’m realizing the joy and opportunity it gives me to just love and be loved. My grands live in Southern California, so I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like, but when I do, I make the most of it. We as grandparents can be an incredible source of comfort and support for our grandchildren that they cannot find anywhere else in their lives.
You may have noticed that my monthly article offering helpful suggestions to fathers and would-be fathers has been on somewhat of a vacation – a vacation that’s taken me on a journey deep inside myself to look at the pervasive attacks and legalized annihilation being levied on our children and our families. An environment supporting “business as usual” murders as commonplace doesn’t lend itself to joyful inspiration.
I’ve created a fatherhood survey to help men evaluate how they think they are doing as fathers as well as some thoughts and ideas that may help improve areas of weakness. Remember, dads, we are only human – not robots. We are imperfect and will make mistakes every day. The important thing is that we love our children, learn from the mistakes and continue to practice on the skills that will make us the best fathers possible.
This month, I’m challenging all fathers of school age children to visit their classrooms at least one time during the school year. There is nothing that makes a child feel more appreciated and proud than having a parent come to school for positive reasons. Moms usually fill this role; let’s change that up this year. You don’t need any special skills, and most teachers will welcome you with open arms.
The joy of fatherhood can quickly be interrupted by unexpected twists and turns in daily life. We do our best to prepare our children for these occasions – let’s call them “bumps in the road” – that we know they will inevitably face. Over the past 30 years or so, the ever increasing presence of law enforcement in the lives of our children has created new challenges for them as well as for us as parents.
The following information and suggestions are based on my experience as a parent and preschool teacher. From my observations, the formal creation of a specific nap time usually occurs between the ages of 2 and 5 years old. Naps are great for children and adults as well, so why is it that our children see them as a punishment rather than a cheerful opportunity? Let’s start by looking at how naps develop and where the challenges begin.
Whether it’s raining or sunny, warm or cold, the sun comes up and goes down with or without our approval. No day should go wasted, especially when there are so many exciting ways to spend time with your child or children. As anyone with grown children will tell you, those “growing up years” fly by. As a way of encouraging this time together, I thought I’d provide a brief list of some activities and resources that you might want to check out.
“Dare to Be Extraordinary: A Collection of Positive Life Lessons from African American Fathers” is a journey of triumph. At its core, this inspiring book is about positive examples of bold, courageous parents set by loving, present African American fathers who raised their children to become extraordinarily successful adults. It recognizes and honors the wisdom and teachings of fathers passed down to both sons and daughters.
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