Papa Don't Take No Mess
I'm tripping. I just watched the episode of Good Times when Michael brought home the bully who had been taking his lunch money. Now I just watched it, but I'm still not sure how Michael and Florida talked James into letting the bully, Eddie, stay for the weekend. What I DO know is, Eddie said he wasn't gonna do any homework to James' face. It was a case of the old quote, "Act like you want it and see if you don't get it." Eddie got it. Now, to Eddie's defense, he didn't know you don't fool around with James Evans. James might joke and have fun sometimes, but he don't play. What was funny was the sound effects of the beating while Florida and the kids were in the kitchen. Had. Me. Dying. Thinking about it in a larger context, though, the second season of Good Times was 1975, almost 30 years ago. In it, we see a boy get a beating from a man who's not his father, ostensibly because the man cares about him. Nowadays, Eddie would've been on the phone to the police, the department of child welfare, the ACLU, and anybody else he could think of. But for all our so-called advancements in parenting, what have we really got? This also makes me think about Bill Cosby's comments some more. Yesterday I heard a link to him talking on the Tom Joyner show (which you can listen to here) in regards to people who have been critical of his comments and the mishandling of the whole even by the mainstream press. (We may get into that a little later.) Now, I don't watch a lot of television...as in none...but I'm betting that there aren't very many shows where the parents are shown to discipline their kids but clearly love them. Nowadays, the kids are the hip and the parents are just plugs who, in the best of cases, when the kid has acted a fool, may have had a point after all. James was not the star of the show on Good Times, but his was the dominant presence. If the Evans family was the 80's Lakers, Florida would be Kareem, but James was Magic. After he left the show, it was over. To be sure, there were a couple funny episodes, but James had that crib on lock. The thing is, the Evans family was po- they couldn't even afford the o-r, but taking them out of the ne'er do well sitcom context, we wouldn't expect the kids to live in those same circumstances all their lives. James had a 6th grade education but he was adamant about making sure that his kids got well beyond that; so adamant that he would beat the devil out of a kid he had just met for not-studying. And saying it to his face. (But come on, some things you're just supposed to know. James was a big, solid man. Common sense would tell you not to get in his face with a whole lotta jibber-jabber. Same thing as Ike Turner on What's Love Got To Do With It-- there was no reason to catch a full blow from him. Once he thumbed his nose, you knew what was next.) Much has been said about villifying the poor or making them scapegoats for the ills of society. Without a doubt, that goes on too. But the fact that a person is poor, be it financially, healthwise, spiritually, or educationally doesn't mean that they have to stay poor. Too many times I think that people who claim to be concerned about the poor don't want to do what it really takes to make a difference. It's easy to spout off about some government program that costs millions of dollars but only means a few dollars difference to a particular family. What's hard is getting in there and helping people to see that their present is their future only if they allow it to be. James knew it. That's why he had two kids who were very strong academically and one who, even though he didn't apply himself in school, was a talented artist, which requires a good deal of discipline in its own right. If I remember correctly, Cliff Huxtable won as the favorite TV dad. The more I think about it, that title should go to James Evans.