The majority of us clearly understand that a mother’s love has truly been a stabilizer and the driving factor in many solid successful families. All of us can identify with a situation where a mother’s love was the absolute saving grace in a family, and maybe in our own home. The love of mothers was proven conclusively during slavery, throughout the years of racism when we were treated as second class citizens, the depression period, unemployment and underemployment. Mothers, grandmas, aunties etc., enacted the multiple roles of breadwinner, laundress, cook, seamstress, educator, disciplinarian, physiologist, and yes they are real wonder women.
There is no absolute that a two-parent family will not have any problems, but it is my conviction that it increases the potential. The men who leave home leave for several reasons such as inability to obtain or retain a job, tension with the wife or the pressure that makes it extremely difficult to remain focused on trying to support their family. I clearly understand that there are a segment of males [not men ] who absolutely refuse to shoulder the responsibility of providing for their families. The family courts are overwhelmed with the failure or the inability of men to pay their child support and the media carries these stories everyday. Yes the absent of strong positive Black men has proven to be an overwhelming factor in an untold number of destabilized families. However, I have had the excellent good fortune to have met and known so many Black positive strong men, and one I just met about a year ago is Ray Demus.
Ray and I were having a conversation one day about the importance of Black men providing for their families and Ray remarked, “You are talking to one.” He then elaborated on his life story by telling me that he quit school in the 11th grade, took a job in the mill, got married and fathered four children. Ray and his wife split up and he left Pittsburgh and moved to Detroit. His mother wrote him a letter after he was in Detroit for about four months and enclosed in it an article in the newspaper about a house catching on fire and four children and their mother were killed.
He instantly thought it could have been his children and that week quit his job and came right back to Pittsburgh. After coming to an understanding with his wife, he accepted total custody of the four children. Ray then went to work at Heinz and remained there for nine years, married again and eventually there were seven to provide for—six biological. However, Ray and the second wife separated and he became a single parent again.
Then Ray was employed by the railroad and he remained there for 18 years. I then asked him how can you work every day and raise seven children, his response was “my mother, who remains my BEST FRIEND in addition my grandmother and sometimes my cousin.” He then tells me that he changed jobs again and went to work at C.M.D. and retired from there after 21 years. As this column is being written Ray still has a 17-year-old son at home, just the two of them. Ray is currently 68 years of age and his three main jobs covered a period of 48 years. He is employed today as a truck driver.
It is an enjoyable occasion to write this story and a double enjoyment to listen to Ray tell about the years and that he never once ever thought about giving up. Yes Ray Demus typifies a proud strong Black man, who recognized that he had an obligation and a responsibility to provide for his family. It’s the kind of act that takes place everyday, but its not told frequently enough.
These are trying times, Kingsley Association needs your financial support more than ever.