Maceo Keeling - SCORE Member, Business Owner and Consultant. Photo: Urban News

We Men

Maceo Keeling - SCORE Member, Business Owner and Consultant. Photo: Urban News
Maceo Keeling – SCORE Member, Business Owner and Consultant. Photo: Urban News
By Maceo Keeling –

Let me start with some basic facts.

Not everybody had a great dad in the home. Many boys never knew their fathers, or they saw them leave, or watched them get locked up or die, long before they reached manhood themselves.

Of course, I am speaking only from my own experience. I knew my father and my grandfather, and I knew of my great-grandfather. The joy, benefit, and power of this knowledge and connection was beyond words, especially for a boy with six sisters and no brothers.

It was clear to me early on that girls and boys are simply different. Not just in the obvious ways, but in how they live in the world. They mature faster than males, they have different needs, they literally have to respond to nature when their bodies tell them so. They also, when they grow up and bear children, nurture life in a way that men can never experience or understand.

So it was important that, when my dad came home from work, he would scoop me up, pound his chest, and say, “We Men!”

I can’t say I knew what he meant at the time, but I did understand that it meant we were different from women.

So what does “We Men” mean to me now, now that I’m a grown man and a father myself? It means that we have an obligation that goes beyond our basic self-preservation and survival. It means we are called to be protectors and providers—regardless of what women say. Men, you can trust and believe that even the most independent woman, who can and often does take care of herself, is comforted knowing that her man can also provide—and that he does not expect her to provide for him.

“We men” means that we are the visionaries. We set a course for our family and ourselves. In the “old days,” it was expected that a husband would look after his family, work hard, “bring home the bacon.” And while in our black communities women always worked as well, the man was expected to be the major breadwinner.

For example, I used to hear the old folks say, “You ain’t no man if you ain’t got land!” Though the circumstances have changed dramatically, the principle holds: you have to establish a foundation of strength and trust that your family can lean on.

How do you do that today? No differently than in earlier times. If you are a single man, establish your word as bedrock for who you are. Fulfill your word with your deeds: do what you say you will do, and do it well. If you have a family, be true to them. Put their needs ahead of your wants: often enough, what you think of as your own needs are just foolish desires for empty pleasure. Take care of your family, your children, your spouse, your parents, and they will take care of you!

If you are an older man, established in the world, counsel the young males you meet: they are starving for it. To say that “young men don’t want to hear it” is a trick of the devil; speak the truth, and it will always prevail. Equally important, lead by example. Show them how to behave by how you behave; seeing who you are will teach them to be who they can, and should, become.

Remember this: in reality, there are no great men, only good men who rise to great occasions and circumstances. Are you a good man? Can you rise to a great occasion? Not unless you can rise to the everyday responsibility of being a man!

If you can’t keep your word, don’t put it out there. If you can’t do the job, don’t take it on. Ask yourself if you can shake hands with conviction … if you can look another man or woman, elder or child, friend or stranger, in the eye and say yes or no … and live up to it.

Sound old school? Well, that’s because it worked well enough to become old school. Old school is what lasts, and it lasts because it’s worth keeping. Passing fancies don’t last, because they don’t deserve to! Baggy pants, dreadlocks, throw-back jerseys, biscuits, brims, beanies, and high button shoes … all were fads and trends, but cleanliness and shined shoes with level heels, a matching belt (to hold your pants up) and ironed, collared shirts still capture the attention of most worthwhile females.

Find your truth, find your self, find your word, find your integrity, find your manhood, find your God—and I’ll be first in line to welcome you into the community of men! A community that traces its heritage through my father, and my grandfather, and my great-grandfather, and beyond. The heritage that earns the title, WE MEN!

Remember: You don’t have to be great to get started, but you do have to start to become great!


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The opinions and statements made in this column are solely the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of The Urban News.

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