The Brother Jesse Experience
Written June 2011
Father’s Day is upon us … sigh.
For the last 32 years, I have watched this annual Father’s Day holiday go by without the presence of my biological father. I remember only drawing cards for other people’s fathers as a gift to them, but not once have I ever known what it felt like to juggle between getting cologne or a silk tie for mine. He wasn’t there to receive a gift or a pat on the back for being a great caretaker.
Not only has he been absent, I found out over a year ago that he has been deceased since 1988.
In September 2009, as a birthday gift to myself and my mother, I decided to discover the truth as to who my biological father is. Due to my mother’s circumstances surrounding my birth, I had two possibilities and a reality to face as a result of one pending DNA test. One DNA test would let me know more about myself, more about why I’m the way I am and mostly what the next phase of my life would be like concerning this.
With the support of my friend, Russell Simmons, I launched the search publicly right here on GlobalGrind. I wasn’t trying to get a reality TV show deal. I needed the public encouragement because I knew it would be difficult.
One man, Joe McCray, was deceased and the other one, Earl Rideaux, was alive somewhere in Houston. I chose to find Earl and ask him to take the DNA test if he would agree. The Power of Allah (God) moved on my desire to know the truth and I was able to find him within days.
See, Earl was the one I was told all along was my biological father. Before I changed my name from ‘Jackson’ to ‘Muhammad’ in college, I used to bear his first name as one of my middle names. Honestly, I was happy to get rid of it because I figured why should I even carry his name when he had never carried me in his arms?
The little boy in me was still happy to see him in 2009 and talk to him on the phone. I didn’t feel resentment. I only sought atonement and redemption. Up until that moment I had only seen him twice my entire life. The first time was in elementary and then my senior year in high school at the end of one of my basketball games. The days leading up to the DNA test, I prayed that it would be him. Then, regardless of his shortcomings in the past, I would have a chance to have a father-son relationship, buy him a card, shop for a silk tie, catch a movie, shoot some basketball, go out to dinner and even hear him say for the first time “I’m proud of you Jesse.” Plus he had other children who would become my sisters and brothers.
It is bigger than a commercialized holiday, but if the DNA results had turned out as I desired, I would be enjoying Father’s Day with my biological father from now on. We took the test and the results came back 0% probability. I was crushed and so was he. Nonetheless, I applaud him for standing up like a man and having the courage to take the test.
So at that moment I had to face reality.
The man that Allah (God) used to bring me to birth is dead, yet, he lives in me and through me. I actually knew him growing up, but I didn’t know he was my pops. I was told he was my ‘Godfather.’ He’s gone. He wasn’t there to see me play basketball, graduate from school, learn to ride a bike, get my first car or even see the birth of his grandchild.
I was blessed with a strong single mother, supportive siblings, a firm grandmother and a caring extended family being there through it all. Plus I have had male role models in my life.
However, the results of that DNA test showed me that I still had a void within that I was only covering up, just like some of you reading this might being doing now. It is real and we need healing.
My journey didn’t stop there. I obtained my father’s death certificate, did extensive research at the library, and gained help from others which led me to July 4, 2010—the day I found my dad’s two living brothers and sister. Since that time I have been bonding with Uncle Larry, Uncle Curly, Aunt Marilyn and meeting more family members. It has been unreal!
As a man, if you have children in the world that you have not seen in a while go and atone. Start the healing process. If your father is alive and you haven’t spoken to him in a long time, pick up the phone. This is only encouragement. I don’t know the extent of your personal situation and I know the epidemic of absent fathers can’t be solved in a 900 word blog. Nevertheless, I know healing is possible.
If you have your father in the home with you, don’t take him for granted. If you’re headed to the mall to get him a gift, don’t take it for granted. Some of us might happily trade places with you.
If you’re being raised by a single mother or your grandmother, tell her “Happy Father’s Day” because she’s pulling double duty.
If you’re a father who is taking care of your responsibility, I applaud you. Fatherhood is more than a day.
To those of us void of the presence of our fathers and still paining, Hallmark doesn’t have a card big enough to fill this void. However, there is a Divine Father who has yet to abandon us through it all. Hold your head up.
So I may not have my biological father present, but this Father’s Day I get to spend it with my uncles.
Anything is possible.
Hurt 2 Healing Interview Cover: HOW I BECAME A MAN IN THE ABSENCE OF MY FATHER W/ JESSE MUHAMMAD