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Ari Howard

The older i get, the more that i realize that everybody was raised different. I was raised different. I didn’t have the typical childhood. I saw a lot and i was exposed to a lot.  If you don’t deal with the pain, you will carry it with you forever. I’m older, i’m maturing, and I’m dealing with my pain head on. The pain of my childhood was not having my father there the way that i needed. I’ve always been super laid back and quiet. Part of it is because i’ve always felt like i didn’t have a voice. I was always younger than everybody so who will listen to me? My guess is nobody. I’m more of a thinker than a talker. I’m sensitive to certain things but that’s also what makes me so harsh at the same time if that makes any sense. I’m stoic but sensitive.  I didn’t have the typical 2 parent household. My mom was a working woman and my father was being a black scarface. With my mom working so much and my father being a drug dealer, my father didn’t have time to give me the reassurance that i needed as a boy growing up in the inner city. I needed those extra hugs. I needed that extra push. I didn’t get that. And i still need them.

I love my pops deeply. Always have. Always will. I don’t hold anything against him. I know my dad loves me. My mom did what she had to do as a single black mother in america. She didn’t have the time. I don’t hold that against her. A woman can’t raise a man. A man can only do that. I needed that love from my pops. I felt like my dad loved the streets more than he loved his own family growing up.  I know that’s not the case but that’s how i felt. The streets must be addictive. The fast cars, the fast money, the fast bitches, the jewelry. It’s hard to stay focused. He did provide. We wanted for nothing when i was growing up. But i didn’t give a fuck about material shit. I needed my dad around. I needed that love, strength, that push, that affection, that reassurance that you can only get from your dad. I missed that. I never got that. That caused me a lot of pain and i’m still learning to deal with it even today. I watched them haul him out of the courtroom and take him to prison. I saw that with my own 2 eyes so imagine what else that did to me. It’s impossible to raise a young black man from prison. He tried his best. He did. He never had a father figure show him what to do. He didn’t have that. His role models were street niggas, gangstas, dope dealers. My grandfather on my dad’s side didn’t do anything for him. Until this day, my dad has only hugged me a hand few of times. He’s never even told me that he was proud of me. That hurts. I know he loves me but i needed to feel it. I still need to feel it. I’ve never received that “i’m proud of you son” response. I’ve never received that “i’m proud of the man that you’ve become” response. It’s so many things i learned on my own. Outside of a few cousins that helped me, i learned how to be a man on my own. For the most part, i turned out pretty good. No kids, never been married, never been to jail, never had a STD, nothing. That’s why when people speak on me and my abilities as a man, it pisses me THE FUCK OFF because you don’t know what i went through to become the man i’m becoming. That’s part of why i’m so self reliant.  That’s why it’s hard for me to depend on anybody. I’m so use to feeling by myself that it’s made it easy to depend on myself. That’s part of why i’m so quiet. That’s part of why i have moments where i feel like i’m alone. I can have a room full of people around me and still feel like i’m the only one in the room. That comes from my childhood. I’m naturally a loner anyway but feeling alone on top of that doesn’t help.

Mom was at work. Pops was flipping birds. Who do i express my feelings to? Who has time to listen to me? Who took the time out to listen to me? How do i even express these feelings as a kid? I couldn’t express that in phone calls every sunday because “you have a collect call from a federal prison” interrupts your talk. And you only get a certain amount of time during those calls. That’s where the doubt came from as a child. That’s where the self esteem issues came from. I felt unimportant. I felt unloved. I felt unsure of myself. I felt like nobody cares. I still have moments like that. And when i do express myself these days, do people even give a fuck? Do people listen? Do people just listen just because? Are people gonna take the time to listen to me or is everybody gonna be just “Super” busy 24/7 and not take time out to listen? As kids, we always wanna make our parents proud.

We all need that reassurance from somebody. We’d love to hear it from them because we know that it’s coming from a genuine and sincere place. Everybody needs love. Kids need love. Some adults never get over this type of pain. It starts with your upbringing. If you have kids, love those kids, motivate them, push them, love them up, hug them, talk to them, listen to them. It could make a difference. MEN, take care of these fucking kids. Be a role model to these young men. It’s a jungle out here. Boys need a father.  If you didn’t understand why i’m the way that i am, you will now. This is me in my rawest form. I’m learning and maturing. This is me telling my truth while speaking up for young men that could be going through this and feeling like this. It’s about breaking that generational cycle and generational curse.