This week On The Same Page has the honor of interviewing James Klingman, economic empowerment activist, renown speaker, and author. He is the author of Empowerment or Economic Enslavement, The Million Man March, Blackonomics, and Fathers and Daughters. On The Same Page will be discussing his book, Fathers and Daughters.
M.T.: What was the inspiration for you book, Fathers and Daughters?
J.K.: Simply put - my daughter, and the love I have for her. She is my first and only child. I was 49 when she was born. I have always wanted a little girl, and when she came -- even before she came, I started writing a journal that she could have in her later years. When she turned three, I gave her that journal and then decided to write the book -- again to leave something behind for her.
M.T.: How did you obtain the pictures of the fathers and daughters in the book? They really add to your book!
J.K.: I put out a call for photos from my friends. My original plan was to do a cocktail table book, in full color, with about thirty photos. I soon found that I could not afford to do it that way and opted for a few Black and white photos. I still have the other photos and may do an expanded version of Fathers and Daughters one day. All of the photos are those of friends and their daughters.
M.T.: Did you interview other fathers for some of the essays in your book such as the chapter, "Giving her Away"?
J.K.: No, I did not interview other fathers. I remembered anecdotal comments made by fathers, especially concerning what will happen when my daughter grows up. Of course, I have seen several father-daughter relationships as well. The "Giving Her Away" essay was inspired by a wedding I attended of a friend's daughter.
M.T.: I really enjoyed the chapter on "The Tie That Binds." Please elaborate on your father's generation and how they related to their daughters.
J.K.: My father hardly ever "let his guard down" in front of us as children. He always worked, came home, and went back the next day. He hardly ever shared in our school work or activities. He had to take care of the family and that was that. However, I know he and my sister were close, even though not physically close. There was indeed a bond between them.
Men of older generations, especially Black men were brought up to be that way. That may be why we saw (and still see) so many of our women - and men - acting the way we do. We missed out on that emotional bond that should take place between parent and child. We, as parents today, must change that. We had four boys and one girl in my family and my father, and others like him, outwardly encouraged the boys to "be men" but inwardly cherished and protected their "little girls."
M.T.: What do you feel the role of a Black father is for his daughter? What is unique about this role?
J.K.: The role of a Black father for his daughter is complex but the primary roles, in my opinion, are guiding her spiritually, instilling in her
self-confidence and self-respect, and letting her know that she is very very special, so that she will never allow anyone to treat her differently and she will not accept less than what she deserves. That is not to say that we should spoil our daughters and make them think they are better than anyone else.
We should always keep our daughters grounded. The uniqueness of this role is found in the fact that only fathers can bring certain things to the party, so to speak, just as only mothers can do likewise. Of course fathers and mothers can do the same basic things, but they cannot provide the same things psychologically. That's why God set up marriage the way He did. Thus, the unique role of a father is found in the "First Kiss" essay.
M.T.: I like the chapter on "Protecting Her." Please share what inspired this chapter.
J.K.: "Protecting Her" came from my thoughts around my daughters growing up and spending more time away from us - out of our sight. It also sprang from the news and what we see occurring almost on a daily basis in this country. Men - and women - doing insane things to children. What it boils down to is the fact that we cannot watch them 24/7 so we must trust in God to protect them and teach them that He will do just that.
M.T.: Why do you feel there is a need for such a book as "Fathers and
Daughters." Did you interview women who grew up without fathers for this book?
J.K.: There have always been books on mothers and sons, fathers and sons, and even mothers and sons, but not too much is written on fathers and daughters, especially Black fathers and daughters. It is a relationship that should be treasured, nurtured, and held in high esteem in the public eye, not just in our homes. Men must not be ashamed of being perceived as something less than macho just because we really love our daughters and are unafraid to show that love in public.
Fathers hold up their sons and show everyone how strapping he is and brag about what he will be when grows up and get all into the sports thing with him. I take my daughter with me where ever I go and proudly demonstrate my pride and affection for her. This book has already inspired an outward display of love between fathers and daughters in Cincinnati.
Last year, based on this book, a "Father and Daughter Night Out" was created, which inspired many to come out and share their feelings and pride for their fathers and daughters. Some of the poems and essays were read and interpreted through dance and music, testimonials were given by fathers about their little girls (although many were adults), and everyone shared a beautiful evening. I read a couple of my favorites with my daughter by my side on stage. It was wonderful. You should try it. We are planning to do every year.
Again, I did not interview women, but several women talked to me after they read the book, some whose father had died, some whose father abandoned them, and some who never knew their father at all. They were uplifted by the book and said even though they missed out on the relationship, the book made them feel good about their the father they never knew. One lady was afraid to read the book because she and her father were on bad terms. I told her to read it and call him. She said she would.
M.T.: How did you go about self-publishing your book?
J.K.: I had written and published two other books, so this one was not too difficult. I bought a book on self-publishing and took it from there. I used my> web site and my national newspaper column to promote the books.
M.T.: Do you have other books? Are you at work on another book?
J.K.: My next book is called Blackonomics and should be released in March of this year. the other two are Faces in the Crowd - One in a Million, a book on the Million Man March, and Economic Empowerment or Economic Enslavement - We have a Choice.
M.T.: Please discuss the work you do and your website www.blackonomics.com.
J.K.: My work is centered on economic empowerment for African Americans. I practice it and promote it in just about everything I do. I think it is where we need to be as a people and must do everything we can to get our people to understand that and to do what it takes to move us in that direction. That's what Blackonomics is all about. I am available to speak at conferences and other events, and I am proud to be listed in the new Success Guide Millennium as a top speaker in the country.
M.T.: Thank you, Mr. James Clingman, for sharing these gems of wisdom.
Please order his books at his site: www.blackonomics.com.