Some of you have heard me referencing artist Sho Baraka lately. The man is a poet, a preacher, a prophet with lyrical 🔥 I have benefited immensely from his unwavering commitment to speak truth to hard truths, especially in regards to systematic ethnic injustice. Two songs in particular keep coming back to provide motivation and desire to persevere in my own walk. The first provides the frame from which the second speaks such conviction.
In Words, 2006, Sho speaks about his struggle to connect with an autistic son. With brutal honesty, he pours out his emotional struggle to endure the hardships of parenting a child with disabilities. He speaks of his wrestling with God in the ups and downs, good days and bad. And even in the midst of their struggle, he gives his son such dignity in the words of this song. A selection of lyrics from Words:
A child with special needs didn’t fit in my plans
I’m a needy man, wanting more that what you put in his hands
All I wanted was a perfect family core
Now I’m envying the family next door
My sons are not a punishment or an accident.
Just a little abstract masterpiece of what the Master did.
I try not do doubt the power of prayer,
But sometimes it feels like the power ain’t there.”
Words can be lies to help us disguise our phony-ness.
Feeling insecure in the midst of pride and loneliness.
I learned the meaning of contentment really fast. Wanting change while appreciating everything that you have.
Find value in your interactions, and not in your treasure
Find strength in Jesus, increase your faith in good measure
Avoid evil, your kids need a home that is peaceful
Don’t be a passive man, understand that your family needs you
Pray for healing, hoping they find a cause
But after all, I resolved, you are not a problem to solve
Maybe I wouldn’t change you
Maybe I’m just unable to see your potential
Because I’m blinded by the labels
Maybe words don’t say much, maybe we don’t need words to communicate our love
The second song follows so well out of Words, 2006. Knowing what Sho’s fatherhood experience is like, Fathers, 2004 is a song written to give his children wisdom to live by and to challenge fathers to man-up, step up their game, be what their family needs. He includes a mix of the challenges found in fathering black boys in current American culture (“Know when the cops approach you, you might have to put your hands up.”) and young girls in a culture that disrespects and objectifies women (“You’re beautiful, I will always remind you. Never let the culture’s idea of beauty define you. Baby girl don’t be easily impressed. Stay clothed in righteousness cause it’s harder to undress”). Sho challenges men to be dads “who stick around,” but even more, to instill values through their example and a loving presence.
I’m a lover, a provider. I’m a teacher, I’m a fighter
I know there’s grace for me even when I’m wrong
Through all my indiscretions and all my imperfections
I’m a love you till the day that I’m gone
Never reach a goal by pulling others down
Royalty is much more than a throne and a crown
Your knees should be hurt from praying with your people
Your shirt’ll be wet from crying over evil
I learned that love ain’t based on performance
Make a mistake and I will love you in the morning
I see life in my children’s eyes
And when I’m wrong I’ll be the first to apologize
Peace to all my fathers who are working through their flaws
Fulfilling their duties and they don’t do it for applause
It’s true, any fool with a tool can reproduce
But a father is that dude that’ll see it through
How do you spell dad?
It goes L-O-V-E