The inauguration symbolizes the peaceful transfer of power from one presidency to the next, but this year was much bigger than the power switch. This year was bigger than Joe Biden. It was even bigger than the removal of Agent Orange.
*Queue a DJ D Nice mix of Black women empowerment songs*
We witnessed the swearing-in of the first woman, first Black woman, and first South Asian woman as Vice President. Black women, Black men, allies, and co-conspirators alike carved out time in their day to embrace history.
I just need to know one thing… Who invited Garth? The country megastar showed up to Kamala’s cookout with unseasoned potato salad. Garth Brooks was tasked with singing the middle school talent show classic, “Amazing Grace”. After he was introduced, Garth walked down the aisle with his 2x Grammy award-winning white privilege and sang the best raisin speckled potato salad rendition of the old negro spiritual he could muster. Garth has a good country voice and is no stranger to inaugural ceremonies. He sang at Barack Obama’s first inaugural ceremony. However, in the wake of mass national protests, a pandemic that has claimed over 400,000 lives and revoked more than 3 million jobs, you’d think they would leave Amazing Grace to someone with a little more soul. I vote for Fantasia. They could have also let H.E.R get up there with her guitar. Jennifer Hudson can sing to the heavens (I wonder where she’s been), and there are plenty of other Black singers (both women and men) that could have blessed us with a performance.
I’m sure there was some behind the scenes “unity” politics being played. I’m selfish, I thought the inauguration should have been Black AF. It should have starred Black women and featured Black women with a cameo by Black men because Black people voted Biden in. He probably would not have made it without Kamala on the ticket. But I digress.
Lady Gaga and Garth did their job and sang their songs, I commend them for their efforts. They could have been Fergie at the 2018 NBA All-Star game. This inauguration was good, Andrea Hall was the first Black woman to serve as fire captain of Fulton County Fire Rescue and the first Black woman to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the inauguration, oh yeah, she also used sign language. Amanda Gorman, the United States’ first-ever youth poet laureate, recited her poem “The Hill We Climb”. History, Black History, and Black excellence were in abundance yesterday. I enjoyed the inauguration, it just could have been… Blacker. Bye Garth, respectfully.
I often wonder how friends take different paths in life. You can have similar backgrounds, family structures, and support systems, yet you can have completely different outcomes in life. When I was in high school, I spent my free time with the same group of friends. We would all hang out together and we were welcomed into each other’s families. After high school, we all went our separate ways.
I had a friend who is now in jail. I met Michael in high school, sometime between freshman and sophomore year. We had similar interests, we quickly became friends, but it didn’t take long for me to realize some red flags. Some were character flaws and some were consistent actions that caused our friend circle pain, embarrassment, and some trauma.
I remember several of us went to the corner store as most teens do. We bought juice, chips, and candy before we went to the basketball court. Once we made it, Michael pulled out extra snacks that he stole! We were upset with him. To us, it did not make sense because he had the money to buy what he wanted. We voiced our frustration, but we remained friends.
Another time, about 7 of us were walking home from an event. He thought it was a good idea to throw rocks at street signs. 7 Black boys and girls walking through a moderately white neighborhood was risky enough, but we didn't consider that to be an issue until he brought extra attention to us. The cops came and stopped us. Michael apologized and we were let off the hook. We voiced our frustration, but we remained friends.
After a school basketball game, 3 of us were hanging out and venting about the relationships we had with our fathers. He shared a very intimate experience with us. We literally laughed him out of the room. We were terrible friends, we never shared a vulnerable space again. I couldn't blame him. He needed us and we failed him. He voiced his frustration, but we remained friends.
I spoke about this situation in my post When They See Dom. Michael, myself, and a third friend were leaving the store one night. Michael bought some ammo for his paintball gun. While we were in the parking lot, he fired his paintball gun into the ground. A bystander heard the shots and quickly called the police. She reported Black men were firing a gun. Within minutes, the police rushed us with guns loaded and ready to shoot. We didn't have the chance to react. We were forced to the ground and arrested, they separated and interrogated us, they threatened the third friend and used every scare tactic they could. Michael told the truth and the cops released us with no charges. We voiced our frustration, but this was one of the last times I would hang out with him.
About a year ago, I received a call from a friend that told me Michael went to jail. I proceeded to look up Michael and read his charges. It came full circle, but I always wondered, what if. What if we intervened? What if we tried to get him some help? What if we didn't laugh at him when he tried to share his truth? Would these things make a difference now? It’s easy to say don't think about the hypotheticals, but this was my friend. He is in jail and unable to take care of his family. Would his life be different if we did more to help him?
Hi, my name is Norris Dion Hudnall, but please, call me Dion.
This is a short and possibly fictional story about me.
For those of you who haven’t done the math, my first name is Norris. My parents were going to name me Ronald Anthony Hudnall after my dad’s two best friends.
When I was born and my mom held me for the first time, the doctor asked what my name would be. She looked at me, looked at my dad, then back at me, then at the doctor.
"Aye fam, let’s name homie after you."
"Deadass?" Dad asked with a grin on his face.
Mom retorted, “But his middle name gon’ be Dion tho.”
“I mean... that rhymes with my middle name, lets run it!” Dad was getting excited now.
“Yeah, I just thought of it,” She replied. My dad was so ecstatic he cried tears of joy.
And that's how I have my name. Upon further reflection, Ronald Anthony wasn’t a fly name, I don't think they would have hyphenated it but it sounds like it should be. But Ronald-Anthony? I wouldn’t have made anybody’s Myspace top friends. I think my mom sensed that and made a necessary audible, I commend her for her efforts.
I imagine I looked like Benjamin Button because Norris is an old man’s name. According to my parents, I told them to start calling me Dion around the age of two. I won't accuse them of dropping me in those first two years, but something happened for me to make that pivot and start using my middle name as a toddler. Maybe I realized that Dion sounded younger than Norris. Maybe I grew tired of being confused since there was always another Norris around. My parents never filled in that blank. I also imagine my pops putting me in that “Baby Boy” headlock. Frustrated that I chose to go by Norris, he might have grunted, he might have cried, you’ll have to ask him for clarity. But thinking about it, they didn't call me junior, because I'm not a junior, so every time somebody called out Norris, it could be either one of us.
At the beginning of each school year, I went through the same routine of correcting my teacher. “No... no… Norris?” I’d raise my hand and ask them to call me Dion. It got to the point where some people would know me for years and never realize that Dion was my middle name. It felt like the ones that did know, kept that knowledge in their back pocket like a blackmail photo. Hype to throw it out like it was the big joker. Even professionally, everyone calls me Dion. Most of my past and present coworkers will only figure it out with this blog.
People often ask me if I dislike the name Norris (they'll also call it my “real” name as if I pulled Dion out of thin air). Truth is, I’ve been going by Dion for so long, I can't imagine being called Norris regularly. At this point, the only person that’s calling me Norris is my wife, and that's usually when I get on her nerves.
So that’s the past and the present about my first name. My parents would likely tell a completely different story about how they agreed on my name. What is the story behind your name? Drop a comment below, on FB or IG.
There will be times where you will be tested in ways you never considered. You will consider running. Do not run, stand in the confusion, sort through the mess, and resolve your issues. If you start running from your problems now, you will be chasing answers for years to come.
You will make a lot of friends over the years. Some of those friends come with expiration dates. You won't be able to read a label to know when they indeed expire, but you will see the signs, react accordingly. Contrary to popular belief, it is okay to cry over spilled milk. Do not cry too long, and remember to clean up the mess so the next will have a clean seat at the table. Forgive, forgive, forgive, and seek healing, healing, healing.
You will meet a lot of girls, even like some of them. Treat them all nicely. You will meet one that you will make your wife. Always be honest and never be afraid to be vulnerable. She won’t ask for much but give her the world anyway. Whatever you give her, she will multiply. Sidebar: have a 3 drink limit at the reception. The stories I heard were amazing and hilarious. Unfortunately, I can't remember when they happened.
Rome was not built in a day. Nothing you want will be either. Learn to fall in love with the process of becoming great and even the most challenging days will be enjoyable. Be thankful for the valleys, because they will help you cherish the peaks. Pour love into everything you care about; family, friends, work, your passions, and having fun.
You don't have them yet, but you will get mentors that will treat you like their own son. Listen to them because they have been through similar situations. Remember, "Hov did that so hopefully you won't have to go through that".
Thank God and stay humble,
- 30 y/o Me
They say we are fighting for the soul of America. It sounds so black and white, so right and wrong. A vote for Biden is a vote for moral righteousness, a vote for Trump is a vote for moral degradation. We have seen trump sully the integrity of the title POTUS and use a myriad of racial epitaphs on national television to describe Black and Brown people. I look at the election results map and I see so many red states, including my home state, Ohio. This tells me that the “soul of America” is still stained from the blood of those who were sacrificed to build this country. So, what is the soul of America?
I sat up until about 2 am going into November 4th. I had to work the next day, but I wanted to hear the bullshit Trump was about to spew from his mouth. I fell asleep, but I woke up to CNN replaying Trump stating that he already won the election and they can stop counting. 45 consistently finds a new way to sound stupid, it’s honestly pretty impressive. To be this asinine daily, it takes a level of stamina and vigor that I can’t comprehend. Unfortunately, it seems millions seem to keep up with him. Look at the election map, footage from any rally, or some specific black celebrities, you will see that so many people still support Trump’s racist and divisive rhetoric (by vote or by presence). I can’t say much about America’s soul here, but I will say many people are too far gone. Trump has shown his hand for decades, voting him president in 2016 only invigorated him and people like him. Voting him in again would likely be a fatal decision.
America will have to be baptized by Bishop T.D. Jakes in the River of Jordan and have a funeral for racism eulogized The Honorable Louis Farrakhan before I could begin to claim that racism is gone. The level of reform and defunding that is necessary to uproot the racist systems is likened to scorching a farm, laying fresh soil, and planting new seeds. I will not say that democrats are the ones that can do it, but I will say that Black people, more specifically, Black women are at the forefront of this vision. I shine this light on Black women because they largely have been more progressive and forward-thinking than Black men. Black men quietly reap some of the benefits of patriarchy and we still tend to lean to the right (roughly 20% of Black men still voted for Trump, while less than 10% of Black women voted for trump). Black people are the soul of the nation and we carry that weight like Jordan carried the Bulls in the Flu Game. One day America will support us back, but that’s for another day.
The soul of America is Black, the soul of America is Black, the soul of America is Black. It is about damn time to do some soul searching and listen to Black people, not Lil Wayne, or Ice Cube, or Terry Crews, but the ones who accurately and appropriately voice their concerns and their ideas for the nation and Black lives specifically.
Not So Mad Black Dad
Parenting is an absolute rollercoaster. One day, you’re sitting and waiting in the delivery room for the culminating event of a nine month pregnancy. The next thing you know, you’re chasing a toddler around the house stumbling over toys. Dad-life has been a blessing like no other. Being able to see the life you helped create, grow and mature right in front of your eyes is special. Fatherhood has come with its fair share of highs and lows, but I can confidently say, that highs have far outweighed the lows. Here are some things i’ve picked up from being a dad:
Being a dad is everything I thought it would be and so much more. I remember listening to other parents, both young and seasoned, many had comments that made parenting seem like a daunting task that came with more stress and pressure than joy and laughter. There is so much pressure, I can’t fake like there isn't, but I feel more jubilance than anything. Each day comes with a different challenge, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Hello! I am Dion Hudnall. I am 30 years old, a husband & the father of a 3 y/o boy. I grew up a military brat, my dad served in the coast guard for over 20 years. Because of his profession, I’ve lived in Alaska, Alabama, Ohio & Louisiana.
My parents divorced when I was 14, so I lived with my mom & sister until college. I attended college at Central State University & transferred a few times before graduating from Cleveland State University.
I’m a licensed school counselor and I work in a local school district. One of my passions is to provide high school students with the support and guidance that I didn’t have growing up. I aspire to have those that will succeed me be better off than I was.
Diary of a Mad Black Dad serves my other passion. I aspire to create a space where I can open up about my experiences as a Black man, Black fatherhood, being a husband, and anything else that I experience.
I used to write frequently to express myself when I was young. I thought I was BOMB at poetry. Someone once told me I should publish a poetry book. They were gassing me up, but some of my old work should still be in my Facebook notes if you ever want to read them. https://www.facebook.com/dion.hudnall/notes_my_notes/ I do not consider myself a great writer by any means, I just want to create and share my story.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for following me. Thank you for subscribing. Diary of a Mad Black Dad was created in 2019. Since then, I have been able to share more than I ever thought I could. I am very excited to continue to share parts of me with all of my new readers and faithful readers.
I am not as far in my walk with God as some others. I can’t fire off scriptures that well. But there’s something about 2020 that feels like it was ripped out of the Book of Job. Now, for those who don’t know, I’ll give you the abridged version.
God & the devil was shooting the breeze & the devil was like, I got $50 that ya mans Job turns his back on you if shit hits the fan. God was like that’s easy money. See, God doesn’t make bets he can’t win, so he already knew this bag was secured. Anyway, God let the devil strip Job of valued possessions, starting with his wealth, his animals, and his land. The devil had the birdman hand rub going. Job cried unto the Lord for the loss of the material goods he lost, but he remained faithful. The devil kicked it up a notch, Job’s family died. Job cried unto the Lord but remained faithful. God, still knowing he was playing with house money allowed the devil to cast disease upon Job; painful boils & blisters riddled his body. Job painfully cried unto the Lord, but still would not curse the Lord.
This is what 2020 has felt like, it seems like we have been bombarded be fret, disappointment, and sorrow. We have lost iconic and inspirational people from Kobe to RBG. We watched from our quarantined homes as the coronavirus took the lives of over 200,000 people. We witnessed wildfires rip through California claiming countless homes, and thousands of people lose their jobs because of covid cutbacks. At times it seems like as soon as we get over a financial left hook, here comes an emotional uppercut. With a proverbial lacerated eye & swollen lip, we have to keep the faith that things will get better. Job held tight to his faith in God, despite all of the pain and hardships he experienced.
Job wrestled with the facts of his life, many of us do the same. Whether we are teaching virtual classes, working from home with our children next to us, or feeling the effects of isolation due to the pandemic, we are all grappling with a new reality. I think it is imperative to push forward and pray for the best. It is normal to voice our frustrations, but we cannot allow ourselves to become fixed in that frustration.
I skipped a lot of the story, but in the end, the Lord restored everything Job lost. There was a light at the end of the tunnel for Job, and he was able to hold on long enough to see it. The grass will be greener on the other side, I cannot tell you how long it will take to get there, but as long as you do not give up, you will make it. I did not talk about it much, but we also have to surround ourselves with people that will celebrate with us when we are riding a wave and be present with us when we are walking through our valleys. 2020 has been a rough year for many people. Be thankful for the things you have, cheer for the highs, cry about the lows, and always keep moving forward. Build a support system that can roll with the punches of life. And like Big K.R.I.T said, “Thank God, and stay humble”.
I often think about how I’m on the receiving end of awkward dad comments.
“Love to see black men in their kids’ lives!”
“He’s so well behaved!”
“Awe that’s beautiful!”
“You go, Dad!”
It is nice and it is maddening, mostly maddening. I’m mad. I’m sure people think it is a polite gesture, a compliment even. It's not, it is demeaning and it lowers the standard for Black fathers. It sullies the work that I put in as a dad but especially as a Black dad. Highlighting the fact that I am a Black man in public with his child is a microaggression, depending on what you say it's flat out racist. I know yall not saying this to white dads. I work hard to provide for my son. I am talking about my presence. I am talking about the tenderness that both complements and contrasts the tenderness that Leah gives him. We hear about a mother’s love, there is also a father’s love and I make sure he receives it day in and day out. I have high standards for myself and I will not allow it to be diminished by half-ass compliments that are fueled by racist stereotypes.
I imagine witnessing these comments could make a Black mother feel disrespected. People give Black dads the star treatment for simply walking with their child in a store, meanwhile, Black mothers get little praise when they bust their ass doing the same work, if not more than some Black dads. Black mothers deserve genuine praise. Parenting isn't easy whether it is a two-parent household, single-parent household, or a co-parenting system.
It is interesting to me that not only white people come with these comments (No offense to my white friends and allies, this is not directed toward you). Matter of fact, they mostly comment on Dom’s behavior as if they are surprised that he isn't falling out inside of stores or kicking and screaming. The main culprits are my fellow Black folks, mostly the older ones. I’m sure they mean well, at least that's what I tell myself. Regardless, they shower Black dads with this abundance of support and love for the least amount of effort. Somebody help me understand it. I get it from other young dads too, they try to pull you aside to tell you how good it is to you with your child. Sir, do you truly feel we are that rare? This is not Animal Planet and you are not Steve Irwin, you will not observe me minding my business then invade my space to talk about things I am aware of. Just say hi and ask to go out for a socially distanced beer, hopefully, LSU is playing that Saturday.
I have this unyielding idea that I should not just be in Dom’s life but invested in it, dedicated to it, and immersed in it. If Dom is learning sign language, I'm learning it too, and I'm practicing with him. If I am learning how to handle my emotions, I'm teaching Dom too, and if my wife and I are building a strong foundation, we will teach Dom how to use the same tools so he can continue to build on that foundation long after we are gone. I am not comparing beliefs to any other parent’s, this is how I carry myself.
I am saying all this to say, don’t comment on my presence in Dom’s life.
Much of growing up consists of unlearning things I’ve picked up along the way to adulthood. My defense mechanisms, my ideas of friendships/relationships, and my perspective that once shaped my youth and aided me in surviving my upbringing are now obsolete and probably toxic. Even though some of these things were my sword and shield at the time, they were place holders because I could not process the situations, and I didn’t have the emotional intelligence to speak on my real feelings. I need to unpack a few things.
Truthfully, I am still learning some of my toxic traits, and I’m not unpacking all of them here, just know I'm a work in progress. One of my more toxic traits was utilizing absence as a means to punish or gain control, in other words, my fallback game was on point. If I felt like a situation was not going in my favor or I am becoming irritated, I would simply disconnect from it. I could sever ties from anything, friends, family, I’ve even cut off responsibilities (that only hurt me in the grand scheme, but nobody said it had to make sense). I could disappear without a word and I wouldn’t give any timetable on my return. Sometimes it was easier to disappear than to talk things through.
I’ve been unlearning everything I thought I knew about relationships, both platonic and romantic. I struggled to keep friends that are women because I never learned how to be a friend. I had to learn to view romance as a living thing. It should be nurtured for it to flourish. I struggled to maintain female and male friendships in general because I wouldn't allow myself to get close to them or vice versa, because I learned early on that you make friends, then you move to a different city or state. I grew up starting over every few years, so it was always easier for me to keep things shallow, so if I ever left, it wouldn't hurt me as much. That was a product of being a military brat. I missed out on a lot of situations that strengthen bonds and build loyalty. I learned the most when I had to go through real trials with the people I love the most.
I remember having this idea of success that was so simplistic that it was a fantasy. If you work hard, it'll work out. That’s it, that's the whole tweet. I quickly learned that sometimes… shit just doesn't work out! But what do you do when shit hits the fan? Nobody taught me that, I had very little resilience. Failure would break me down, and leave me in pieces. I had to unlearn that primitive idea of success and understand that there will be failed attempts, there will be some rerouting, and there will be some scrapped projects.
Unlearning is one of the most important things I learned as an adult. Sometimes I feel healed when I realize how much of the old me I have let go. Have you reflected on some of the things you have to unlearn? If you feel comfortable, let's talk about it.