Before the Huxtables and the Obamas

Years ago I was touring with Dr. Odell Hobbs, and the Virginia Union University concert choir. We had stopped in Tennessee at a Hardees for breakfast; all 50 of us college students. Not long after our arrival, some of Tennessee's finest decided they would stop for breakfast at this same Hardees, eschewing their regular trip to 7-11. It didn't take long for them and the other patrons to relax and get down to enjoying their biscuits and coffee, since we obviously were paying them no attention. After we re-boarded the bus, Dr Hobbs mentioned an insult he received during breakfast One of the patrons who just happened to be white commented/complimented him on how well behaved we were. R. Hobbs was polite, yet un-accepting, letting her know that this was the norm, not the exception.

I thought about that incident as I reflected on all the talk I've heard over the last few months referencing the Obama family and the wholesome picture of black families they reveal to the world. During that time I've also heard a number of references to the fictional family, the Huxtables from back in the '80s. After hearing enough of these references I like Dr. Hobbs became annoyed.
I'm not blind to the harsh realities of the world we live in regarding the makeup of American Households, I was raised by a single strong woman, but I'm also not blind to the positive realities of American households.

Before the Huxtables made Thursday night "must see TV", the Beasleys; my aunt and uncle, were successfully raising three children in Paterson New Jersey. Before the Huxtables, The Wilsons; my other aunt and uncle were successfully raising my cousin, who's now married and raising three boys of his own. My Uncle John and Aunt Dee adopted and raised a pair of brothers. And I can't forget the Jones, another aunt and uncle, who successfully raise five boys in a place called the projects. Five boys, who became five men, happily married, successful in business, active in church, and in the lives of their children (I envy dem boys). Right now, fifteen feet away from me is a happily married man whose teenage daughter was recently elected to the Greater Richmond Youth Association local bowling hall of fame for teens (Jessica Overton); having learned the sport from her dad who was elected a few years ago, the same week that she received a full academic scholarship.

Even as I browse the blogosphere, I see numerous examples of black families making marriage work. When you get a chance, visit Donovan McNabb's mom or, read about Keith's night out bowling with his wife and a bunch of other married couples. If bowling isn't your thing then read about his trip to the movies with 75 other couples. Please pay a visit to Tammy to read about her Funny Valentine. And, before you sign off say a prayer for our sister Lisa Shaw who's been fighting illness lately but still managed to start Marriage Flavor.

While I admire all of these examples, I also admire those of you that have suffered through the pain of divorce, the trauma of abuse, or the salted wound of infidelity, but have somehow managed to keep your sanity and your integrity intact. I mean, I like the Huxtables, but you've overcome a whole lot more with a whole lot less.



People are so fixated on what was such a popular but fictional show where in real life, neither Clair or Cliff held it down. Bill had an affair and reasons unknown to us, Philicia got a divorce.

I'd much rather focus on the real-life struggles of those who are doing the very best they can with little to no road map or script for that matter. Most Americans want a happy, loving & successful relationship and happy and successful children following close behind. I'd much rather have a role model living next door, in my immediate family, at church or other places that I might frequent so that I can see the real life struggles, how they've over come them and how if we all pitch in, we can have one less divorce, one less abused person and one less statistic of any kind. I'm all for reruns of the Huxtables, but I'd rather have lunch with you and the Mrs, Tammy and the Mr and Shaz and the Mr so that I can get some tips for my next "Wedding on the beach" (smile)

Love you!
SLC said…
Free Spirit you hit the nail on the head, and great reminders about their real life issues. I think all of these couples have gotten on each others nerves at some point and had to learn how to heal and forgive.

So what's the name of that restaurant we're meeting Tammy at in New York? Maybe we can hit Philly on the way back, if Keith will lead us to the best Cheese Steaks in town.

See ya soon.
Shanita Waters said…
That was a great post. You are absolutely right. Some have slipped these "insults" in disguised as compliments and many of us (including myself) allowed them to fly right by us just happy to have a Black American first family. The Obamas have accomplished a lot but they aren't the first. Thanks for helping us to put things in perspective.

ZACK said…
This is why I enjoy your blog so much. You always bring such a fresh "perspective" on issues that affect real people.

People have begun angering me by saying that our President is ONLY a good speaker. To be honest, he's not the best. In fact, I admire his intellect more than I admire his presentation skills. (He says "uh" too much) But I think that blacks should be known more for whether we "speak well", but rather if we "live well".

That's something that people of all colors should strive for.
Keith said…
Thanks for the shout out and such a positive post about sucessful marriages and family life. It's a shame that even amomgst our own people there doesn't seem to be too many examples of marriages and family life that is positive, but all one has to do is look and you will see several examples of it all over our community. This was a
great post.
Shaz said…
Great post! You have just given hubby and I some great examples to follow on our life long road of marriage.

Butterfly - We're going to need more then lunch to go over the fab ideas I have for your beach wedding (smile)

Thanks for dedicating this post to Jeff and I.