By Randy Crump
One week before Father’s Day, as I spent time with my wife, our son and his family, I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that my father would have been 100 this year.
Thoughts of dad lead to thoughts of my ancestral roots, although as a descendent of slaves, it might be difficult to trace my lineage beyond a few generations. Nonetheless, I wondered what my father would have made of our trip to visit theme parks, when there was so much unfinished work to be done.
Sadly, I never had an extended conversation with my father about what he did for a living, but I did observe his work ethic much of my early life. As an older teen, I learned that my dad’s chief job, even without a high school diploma, was as an assembler for Allis-Chalmers.
He also was landlord/property manager, an unlicensed barber, a part-time laborer and a scrap metal recycler. If my father wasn’t sleeping or handling basic human needs, he was working.
I only can imagine my father’s “elevator pitch” going something like this:
Interviewer: “What do you do?”
Dad: “I work.”
Interviewer: “What type of work?”
Dad: “What do you need done?”
Interviewer: “No, I mean, how do you make a living?”
Dad: “Whatever is legal.”
Professionals and tradesmen often identify themselves, and each other, simply by the work they do. Traditionally, that mindset particularly has applied to men.
Perhaps with the rise of the dual-income family and the number of households headed by single women, this too has changed. But women at least seem to have a greater ability to maintain perspective on the importance of family.
My dad saw work as a means to care for his family. Work, therefore, came first.
Men seem to have a need to work to have a sense of importance and self-worth. My father simply worked, no matter the job, no matter how difficult, dirty or tedious. He never complained, at least not that I would know about it, but I always knew he worked hard to support our family.
After my mother passed away when I was a child, he continued to keep the family together, working even harder to make sure that we never went without. I never will forget his unselfish sacrifice for the good of our family.
Especially in traditional black households, men are critical in raising, disciplining and supporting children.
However, during the past 30 years, family supporting jobs for those without appropriate formal training increasingly have become scarce in central cities, while government aid requiring the separation of men from families has proven disastrous.
For these reasons and more, I am excited about Gov. Scott Walker’s $100 million commitment to business expansion, new housing and job creation in Milwaukee because it has great potential to be a catalyst for more public and private investment.
Coupled with work force provisions to ensure local work force participation, such an investment has the potential to help many men and women regain their identities as breadwinners and role models for their children.
Randy Crump is CEO of Prism Technical Management & Marketing Services LLC.