Oh, how I love Denzel Washington. He's done so many good movies. Even his bad movies are good movies.
More importantly, he came up in life with not a lot, but exactly enough — specifically, a loving mother, whom he credits with keeping him on the right track, even with a little tough love (his parents split when he was 14). It made him the man that he is today — a husband and a father of four who happens to act for a living.
He's not stepping out. He's not showboating. His ego doesn't come with a door lock under his desk. He's just a solid guy who turns his upbringing back on others — being a huge contributor to the Boys and Girls Club, lots of other charitable works. And an expectation that you are not a victim of "the system." You are what you make of you.
"It starts at home," he told The New York Daily News during an interview to promote his new film Roman J. Israel, Esq. “It starts with how you raise your children. If a young man doesn’t have a father figure, he’ll go find a father figure."
He went further, talking to theGrio. “If the father is not in the home, the boy will find a father in the streets. I saw it in my generation and every generation before me, and everyone since. ... If the streets raise you, then the judge becomes your mother and prison becomes your home,” he said.
Of course, somebody is offended by this. In fact, a lot of people are. Because being offended is "in," and gosh, people feel badly when you tell them what they're missing ... because FOMO (fear of missing out, which may in fact be a defined psychological disorder but really has become an industry of busybodies who shame people for exposing others to the fact that they don't have something most everyone else does).
Then there are those who say that Denzel doesn't understand the "black experience in America." I'm not black, and I am sure I'll get huge blowback if I speak too much on this, but I'm pretty sure Denzel understands the "black experience" — just like the millions upon millions of other black Americans who live inside loving families, have fulfilling lives, and are not suffering at the hands of the "system."
If you're missing a parent, whether it happened early or late in life, you know what the void feels like. You don't need someone to make amends for you by shushing someone who may tell a truth. Fortunately, Denzel never backs down from his opinion (he also doesn't care whether you like the movie role he chooses).
Study after study on family matters discuss the challenges that are created by a missing parent, and more so, a missing father. So why would people want to shush Denzel for bringing up the importance of fathers? It doesn't fit the agenda? Here's an idea — change the agenda. Value fathers. Encourage participation by fathers and positive fatherly figures in children's lives. At the very least, don't diminish the importance of good father-like role models.
Denzel missed out on a good father, and he turned out okay. But that doesn't need to become the rule rather than the exception. He has made a point of his life to serve as a role model to children in need of guidance. Surely, he, like any other child, wouldn't have minded having a good father in his life.