And Therein Lies the Rub…

This blog post is in response to an opinion piece in the Fargo Forum:

The ultimate mark of power may be its invisibility; the ultimate challenge, the exposition of its roots.

— Trouvillot

Have you ever been told that you are a credit to your race?

Have you ever been told that you are not like “them?”

Have you ever had to attain the highest degree of your profession to become an example of excellence in a homogeneous environment?

The words are meant as terms as endearment as compared to the norms. The action is intended as a way to assimilate to the norm.

The norm is essential; both what it is and what it means for each ethnic demographic both now and throughout history.

Minority groups did not set the norms until recently—it was either against the law or left them subject to bodily harm. What they did was find a way to navigate. The fortunate ones did this successfully, but most couldn’t or wouldn’t (and why should they have to)?

What was asked of them was to assimilate or die, which is still the case today.

If you’re are not a minority, you may never have to make that choice. And based on the part of the country from which you are raised, either option means the diminishing of one’s self to create anew.

So, if you haven’t had to make that choice, or you haven’t had those things said to you, then you cannot begin to understand what privilege is. White privilege does mean that you haven’t had issues in your life. It doesn’t diminish how hard you’ve worked for what you have. It does not mean that you actively participate in racism or bigotry. It does mean that when the norms were established, ethnic minorities did not have a seat at the table. I will give you a personal example:

I am probably the first generation in my family (on either side) that will have the opportunity to leave investments for my kids when I die. My wife is white, and I am black. The most interesting aspect of our relationship is how different our ancestor’s paths were.

When her ancestors traveled to America, mine were sharecroppers in Alabama — with no hope of acquiring land.

When her ancestors were settling in North Dakota, making them landowners — an investment that would pay dividends for centuries to come, mine were living life under Jim Crow.

While her ancestors were tilling the land with their blood, sweat, and tears, mine was part of the great migration, using their blood, sweat, and tears to escape poor economic conditions and persecution, just as her ancestors did 50 years previous.

The only way that my father was able to open doors for his family was to join the military in the ’60s, which gave us a fantastic future, but also brought its own set of racial challenges for him.

And there is me. I am a doctor, a politician, an educator, a proud father, and a devoted husband. On the surface, it is easy to say, “Look at you, you have pulled yourself up by the bootstraps and made something of yourself. But that would be missing the point entirely.

Every generation in my family had to start again. Learning norms, navigating to survive, facing oppression and marginalization, and overcoming to strive for uncertain success — things that some minorities have to do still today. For every one of me, there are thirty others that could not defy the odds.

With all of that said, I need to point out that my story and your story are only relative to ourselves and not the bigger picture, and therein lies the rub. You cannot base societal issues solely on individual stories. Both mine and your story are important because it provides some context. But your story does not prove that white privilege does not exist any more than mine proves that it does. We must start to criticize the status quo. Only then can we begin to improve our communities. If we continue to believe that each person is born with the same chance at success regardless of race or social-economic status, we are kidding ourselves.

This is Not a Moment, This is a Movement


There was a time in history when it was illegal for black people to be educated.

There was a time in history when black people could not vote or hold a political office.

Both actions were punishable by death.

But, history tells us that if you tell black people that they cannot do something, they will show you how it is done.

And that is why 2020 is such an important year for my family and me — I did both.

I have been asked why I would want to run for political office or why I would want to hold a doctoral degree. I have always been hesitant to answer the question; I didn’t think people would understand.

The reason is: I know exactly what my purpose is in life. Many people have no idea why they are on this earth, but I do. My purpose in life is to lead. How did I know this?
My ancestors told me.

I was recently shown that I am a vital part of American history. My people were from Africa; brought here for slavery in Auburn, Alabama; persevered and sought opportunity through the great migration; marched through Jim Crow; and fought for this country in the United States military. I am a product of their perseverance, diligence, sacrifice, and hard work. My ancestors told me that I am needed and that I should prepare. I was told that I would have to sacrifice personal pursuits for the greater good.
So that is what I did.

While some were on vacation, I was locked in a room typing away. While some were watching their child’s events, I was seated next to them, feverishly typing on my laptop. While some spent their weekend at their lake cabin, napping and tubing, I sat in a classroom from 10 am to 6pm, learning, debating, and sharing. I am not saying I am better than, I am saying I had my orders — this was the sacrifice I was told about; this was part of the grand plan. All the while, my wife was tirelessly and selflessly holding the fort down in my absence.
Now, I am not trying to be “the next great” anything. I only needed to lead by example. The objective is simple, beat the odds and achieve at the highest levels without excuse.

So the doctoral degree? Not for me.

The City Council Seat? Also, not for me.

These achievements are for those who look like me; those who have the same backgrounds as me; those who came before me; and hopefully, those who come by way of me. I am a vehicle for others to achieve success. If 3 to 4 people of color see me and feel that they can achieve anything, I have done my job.

So what is next? Unfortunately, my mission is not completed — no, it has just begun. And I am not sure it will ever be until I am in the ground. I still have responsibilities. It is part of being young, gifted, and black.


Councilman David L. Woods II, Ph. D


Father of the Year Moment #399 – Re-discovery:

On my road trip to and from Iowa with My Oldest, I found out:

She is a fierce competitor, but does not have as much self-confidence as she puts out.

She runs like the wind, but has the running form of Popeye.

She does whatever is in her power to impress me and is upset with herself when I am not happy (even if it is not about her).

She is very funny, but she sucks at telling jokes.

She is kind.

She has a non-chalant attitude, but cares about other’s opinions.

She screams for independence but wants me right by her side.

She is very book smart, yet very gullible.

She loses everything. Usually, it is right in front of her.

She is very tall for her age and has huge feet, which is why people are surprised when they discover her age.

With all of my deadlines for work and school, I had barely noticed how she is becoming her own person. This is happening way too quickly!

Father of the Year Moment #493: Call the Question: The First Born, after picking her up from basketball camp…

“Dad, a friend wants me to go to the lake this weekend and I want to go.”

“Well, you do realize that you have State Track this weekend, right?”


“Yeah. Not going.”

“What?! You qualified!”

“Yup. And I am not going.”


“Why do you think I will agree to this?”

“I have done every activity you wanted (true), I have done well in sports and school (also true), and you said that I got to choose what I do this summer (shit) — I want to go to the lake!”

Okay, that last statement sounded like Heather when she stubbornly decides something, meaning I don’t really have a choice — kinda scary.

I knew this day was coming. I just didn’t know she would use her mother’s tone to make her point. Pray for me.

Father of the Year Moment #584: Pop Quiz.

Name an appropriate time to yell, “Are you F#$@ing kidding me!?”

a) At a Super Bowl party after your favorite team drops a pass in the end zone.

b) Somebody rear-ends you coming out of your parking space at Walmart.

c) Missing the Powerball Jackpot by one digit.

d)Your child does a #2 30-seconds after a change.

e)At an elementary 3-on-3 tournament where most of the participants are under the age of 10.

Apparently, for one parent at the Local 3-on-3 tournament, the answer today was “E”. 🏀🤬🕊️🦏

#Keepitclassy #WTF #cantbethefirsttime #yourecool #hatersgonnahate

The Sunshine Award

I have been nominated for The Sunshine Blogger Award by The Modern Dad. What is that exactly, I am not sure, but, because of its creativity, I think it would be cool to pass this story (created by The Modern Dad) along.

“The Sunshine Blogger Award was created in the dark days of the internet. Before Google or Bing, there was Lycos, Ask Jeeves, Dogpile, Altavista, Excite, and others. They would direct you to dancing hamsters, blinking text, and video game cheat codes. All were built on GeoCities, Angelfire, and Tripod.

All were terrible.

However, none were as bad as AOL. In that walled garden, creepy dudes asked A/S/L, bored teens waited for topless photos of Claudia Schiffer to download over 28.8 kbps modems, and Dragon’s Gate burned millions of minutes of metered access. The only light residents could see was reflected from the surface the billions AOL Free Trial CDs they were forced to mine.

Everyone was resigned to their fate. That is, until the day a single person stood up and screamed, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!

To break through those walls, to see the blessed light of the Digital Economy and Dow 36,000, they created a way to recognize greatness. The name of the original recipients have been lost to history, but their selfless sacrifice to the god of Web Twopoint-Oh allows us to see the promised land and shatter the stranglehold of the Peacock and the All-Seeing-Eye on our brains.”

Part of my responsibilty to to answer 11 questions that The Modern Dad posed. Giddy up!

1. What have your kids done to embarrass you this week?

My first born was good at soccer when she was 6. By good, I mean that she would kick the ball away from the scrum and outrun everybody to the goal (no skills). One day, one the way to a game, she said, “Dad, I think I am going to score 6 goals today.”

She did.

I must have forgotten to teach her about sportsmanship because she scores the sixth goal, turns around, and in front of dozens of parents holds up the number six as if she is the best thing since sliced bread. Here’s proof:

Wha…stop it…put your hands down!

2. Did you embarrass them back? If not, why?

I live to embarrass my kids, so yes, but not to the degree that I want – yet.

3. Who’s the reason you got a call from school about something your kid said: You or your partner?

My life is an open book (insert Instagram plug here: UffdaBlack), so most people who follow me know that the phone calls that come home are usually because of something I did or said in the past.

My second born is a very old soul. She is 7 and is really personable. So personable that she often gets to hang out with women who are 30+ years old.

“Oh she is such a delight to have around!”

Meanwhile, she’s telling them all kinds of stories. Even in school.

2015-08-01 19.19.50-1.jpg
Cute, huh?! That is how she gets ya!

4. What about parenting is still a problem for you? Having kids is not an acceptable answer.

My major problem is with them growing up so fast. I am the dad that has a picture of everyone, every event, and everytime. So much so that I have to pay for a Dropbox. Yes, I do enjoy life in reality, but I think it would be so cool for my kids to look back and know that their parents were there.

The negative to that is, when you look back 5 to 10 years ago, you soon learn that everybody was right and your kids grow fast. My babies are not babies anymore and that is extremely hard to accept.

Well, that, and the fact that every time I say to one of them, “You’re not doing it right, hold my beer!” I end up in surgery.

2015-08-26 09.05.07.jpg
They look nothing like this anymore.

5. What advice did your own father or father-figure give that was useful?

I was not only fortunate enough to have my own father in my life, but I had many other male figures (coaches, friends’ dads) who were instrumental to who I am today. I think I was on the tail-end of the “I don’t care if you are not my kid, you do what I say and stay out of trouble” “takes a village” era.

One piece of advice came from my high school basketball coach. He was a very caring man who could be a straight-up asshole on the court. If you were doing something wrong, expect to hear about it (along with everyone else in the gymnasium). He would say, “I am hard on you guys because I love you. Sometimes, the truth is just hard to hear; and sometimes it hurts. But I will always tell you the truth and anyone who would do that truly cares for you”

I don’t know why that resonated with me, but it is something that I try to do in my everyday life, especially when parenting.

Yup, I am an asshole parent.

6. What was completely useless?

I have no clue what information was/is useless. I think I will leave this question unanswered until 2035, when my last child is out of my house and attending college.

7. What personality trait of yours do you not look forward to seeing in your kids?

My attitude. Most people will tell you that I can get animated, but, for the most part, I am an even keeled guy. That took years for me to master. I have a bit of a temper. When angry, it becomes Hulk-like. I have seen it pop up in my children. Couple that with the adolescent mind and whoa! Look out!

8. What craft/artwork have your kids done that you were impressed by? Anything that made you suggest engineering?

I once watched my oldest some build a whole village out of a Melissa & Doug train set. It was back when he was totally infatuated with Thomas & Friends. I bought him a whole set (maybe two) for him (really me). I thought it was going to be like pulling teeth. Nope. He was totally into it. Next thing I know, darn-near recreated the island of Sodor.

The Little Engineer.

9. What was the last toy you stepped on, and where did you bury it?

That is a tough one. It has to be this bear (pictured). It is not like it hurts or anything. I just seem to always step on it after my son goes to bed. Worse yet, it is always on! I wish that I could bury it, but I cannot because it was a favorite with all of my children and they will know if it turns up missing.

Stay tuned…

It is damn cute unless you step on it at 2 a.m.

10. What was the most recent request from your partner or kids that you agreed to then immediately regretted?

I feel as though my wife is way better suited to answer that questions for herself.

Two years ago, I needed to have the front landscaping done – and we are talking about a complete overhaul. I wanted to price it out and get it over with as I was in the middle of taking my comprehensive exams. My ever so cheap wife saw the estimate and started rubbing on my bicep…

“I am sure a big man such as yourself can take care of a  job like this for way cheaper – can’t you?”

Next thing I know, I am the middle of my landscaping with a scoop shovel, steel-toe boots and sweats on in 95+ degree heat (yes, sweats. I hate being bit by mosquitos and any repellant I applied would soon be sweated off).


11. Why did you agree to answer any of these questions?

It made me feel like I was an interesting person. The question is, why did you actually read my answers?

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