The product of a teenage mother and absentee father you'd believe that Wallace's chances for success were slim. Combine those odds with being Black and male in a society that's taught to fear him and you'd have a statistical blueprint for failure. Yet, it's each of those factors that have fueled him where they could have easily burned.
It's the community that embraced him as son, after his father's numerous disappearing acts that has kept him. "I've had everything that I've ever wanted and have never lacked anything," Wallace says. The community of his mother, grandmother, church, and mentors providing him with all the love, support, and encouragement he's needed.
Wallace's father or lack thereof he says plays an insignificant role in his life and someone he doesn't think of often. A perspective not too many people would admittedly share. They've always had a very consistent, inconsistent relationship. "We would talk and then we wouldn't talk." Wallace, Sr. he says, "too busy chasing women and trying to be a friend."
The lessons he's gained from his father's absence outweighs any pain he's ever endured. He's learned a lot about manhood and fatherhood: what it is and what it isn't. "I've learned how to commit to things greater than myself. The value of keeping my word. The value of being determined and how to survive when you may not have someone to do it for you. It pushes me to want even more."
The contrasting images of his father and the Black men in his community the greatest examples. His vision of manhood and fatherhood were shaped by his uncle, pastor, and elementary school principal. All of whom taught him the meaning of Black fatherhood, "responsible, strong, passionate, caring, sacrifices for their children, there for them through thick and then, a teacher, a back bone, and someone who teaches them about the past."
Values he has never forgotten and instills into the children of his community. Today, he is an instructor at one of the local middle schools where he strives daily to, "transform and heal lives through education." Many of them children of color that may otherwise never see a positive image of a Black man or most importantly of themselves. His position in the classroom much like the multitude of fathers he's had pushing him along the way.
A dear friend once said to me, "Statistically we weren't suppose to be here." We weren't as children of color from broken families, low socioeconomic backgrounds, and parents without an education suppose to dream and actually achieve. Those statistics never took into account the data in which you cannot calculate because it's immeasurable. It's the strength of our community, the richness of our culture, and the effervescence to move a mountain with only a mustard seed. It was never our resilience, it was always the clutching of the power of "us" that made us who we are--A community of family.
Wallace's story is a part of a series dedicated towards telling authentic stories of Black fatherhood. For privacy purposes the name used in the story has been redacted.
Dominique Mack (@just_dmack) is a writer, counselor, and advocate whose vision is to help people heal through their own stories. She hails from Brunswick, GA and regularly blogs for those finding their way at: http://www.dominiquemack.com/