How this ‘very smart brotha’ is raising very smart kids

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Panama Jackson, one half of the very popular blogging duo “Very Smart Brothas,” has been keeping us entertained for nearly 10 years.  On the famed blog, Jackson provides the interwebs with his thoughts on everything from relationships to pop culture, to social justice. You’ll even find his humorous takes on cultural topics, such as “20 Things ‘You Ain’t Gon’ Do In A Black Household” or personal revelations such as “This Election Failed My Daughter.”

VSB has won numerous awards and has cultivated a sizable community with its unique brand of witty and irreverent content from Jackson and co-conspirator Damon Young. But when Jackson’s “mind isn’t his nine,” and he isn’t making his “pen his Mac-10,” he’s busy raising three beautiful children in Washington, D.C.

In an interview with theGrio for our #ThisIsBlackFatherhood series, Jackson shares some of the juggles of balancing work and fatherhood with three children, how it’s changed him and the added responsibility he faces raising two black boys.

TG: What year did you become a father?

PJ: 2009.

TG: What does fatherhood mean to you?

PJ: I think for me personally fatherhood means being accountable, being there, setting a good example. It means laying down a framework for raising decent human beings. And mostly just being there and helping build esteem and showing…With my daughter I need to make sure I’m a positive example of what a man is. What a black man is. And that she knows what to look for later in life assuming she wants to settle down and get married or whatever type of partner she chooses she wants. I need to show her an example of that.

And I guess similarly for my boys, give them a blueprint for how to be sincere, genuine, meaning what you say and being accountable to who you are and the decisions that you make.

TG: So you know for women, the conversation is being able to juggle it all…balancing work between motherhood. Do you feel like there’s that kind of thing for men? And do you think you deal with that struggle of trying to have work-life balance and juggle your career and also juggle being a father?

PJ: Oh, absolutely. I am with the mother of my son and my daughter comes from a previous relationship. But we have a very good co-parenting relationship. I’m juggling being a father to kids who have things to do while also making sure my job is done at work. So there’s a lot of different pieces that have to come together in order to make it work.

But I think… and maybe this is just because of how I’m personally wired… I also never think about how much I have to do. Like I really don’t how much it is until people tell me… I never take a moment to sit back and think about stuff going on. It’s just, I was raised if you got something to do then you just do it. It might be juggling but it all manages to work itself out. In one way or the other everything that’s supposed to happen happens.

TG: Has fatherhood changed you?

PJ: Fatherhood definitely changed me. But I also didn’t give a f*ck about a lot of things. Like I genuinely did not care about a lot of stuff in terms of  how I said things to people, how I approached people. I was always like a firebrand kind of individual. My opinion was my opinion. I’m more considerate of the way that I approach things now. Yes, my opinion is still my opinion but if you read things that I wrote back in 2008-2009 it’s completely different. I read some of that stuff now and cringe. I am nowhere near that same person anymore.

Now some of that is just real growth. But the biggest changes in my life have been my children. My daughter was obviously the biggest one because she’s when my life changed. Your first kid… life changes. The other kids kind of add onto that. You learn different things because of the personalities of your kids. But going from no kids to one kid is a completely life changing experience.

TG: Do you feel a weighted responsibility raising two black boys and who will grow to be black men?

PJ: I do because but maybe not for the stereotypical reason. I do because they’re black boys. They’re living in a world that’s not kind to black men. But I want to make sure that I’m raising boys that are going to be pillars in the community, but good towards black women too. Because without y’all, there’s no us, right.

So I need to have the kind of sons that are respectful to women and know how to treat women. And are all about creating that safe space for black women in the world, which is why I want my daughter to see her father is the kind of man who respects women and loves women like genuinely likes women. And is about liberation and empowerment of women.

I want to raise boys who are strong black men and also have that type of goal and want about being strong for the black women who don’t always get the same kind of space or consideration that it’s just as hard or bad for them. Because I know we have this whole, ‘Black men are under attack thing.’ If black men are under attack then black women are under attack. But don’t always necessarily get that same microphone.

I think we kind of unfairly always assume black men are the ones always struggling. I actually wrote something about this, like the erasure of black women in these movements. Because we always say, ‘black men, black men, black men,’ and black women are in the forefront of everything. So the weighted responsibility is making sure I raise well-rounded boys who actually like women and feel concerned about their black women and sisters in the world.