Category Archives: Relationships

The relationships category provides man to man advice to young men of color. There are topics and discussion that men need to discuss. This category provides a platform for that firm discussion.

Sing, dance, rap, party to the negativity.

I came downstairs this morning and do what I normally do…turn on Bounce TV.

On the weekend I usually turn on the tv and have it as ambient background while I cook breakfast. My pooch follows me to the kitchen and I notice the video countdown is on. I don’t have cable so this is the only “ethnic” video programming.

I was on #7 Mary J Blige was singing about how she’s tired of some man.

Then #6 was a song entitled, “My girls” by some female group…emphasizing the solidarity of her girls.

Then #5 John Legend talking about love; Family, Country, Heterosexual, Homosexual…love.

Then #4 Beyonce “Lemonade” the video was the “Queen B” walking around breaking up cars, windows, fire hydrants, singing about how she was betrayed hurt by some, you guessed it, man. I thought queens behaved a little differently but that’s just me.

Then Bryson or whatever his name was, talking about some woman that hurt him. This dude is about 20 years old complaining about a woman…please.

What number are we on? Solange talking about rebuilding and trying…wait, honestly, I don’t know WHAT she was talking about.

Finally number #1 Bruno Mars…he was partying about money, vixens,  Vegas and Versachee(spelled it wrong on purpose). I actually like this song.

Ok…out of ten videos, what do you see? I’m not talking to you ladies, I’m talking to the young men. I’ll tell you what I see…a bunch of negativity about black men and this contentious culture with our women. I’ve done my share of hurting and disappointing women, so I’m the last person playing victim here.

My point is this;

  • All women are not gold diggers.
  • All women are not hoes.
  • All women are not cheating.
  • All women don’t dress like strippers.
  • All women are not ALL women.

Regardless of what you see on tv, regardless of what may be around you, treat women with respect. Even if they don’t act like they deserve to be respected, respect them anyway. As a man you have to be the better person, you have to lead by an example of a gentlemen. You have to want better for yourself. If you can’t make someone happy or make their lives better, keep looking. Don’t stay there making each other miserable. Find someone that will appreciate you doing something for them. Sliding off topic…anyway as I said, “ethnic” programming…and that’s just what it is…programming. That’s an interesting word because that’s exactly what’s happening. Well, don’t let videos, tv, social media or the news convince or “program” you to be negative. Keep your perspective positive. Remember All women are not All women. Find that one that’s different and put a ring on it. I need to take my own advice.

I could be blogging volumes about all the other negative influences but I chose to take a bite out of this one.



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Movie Review: “In My Father’s House”

When Caitlyn and Charlie from PictureMotion people contacted me to do the review, I was very skeptical. I didn’t think I could really provide an open-minded review while harboring assumptions about the movie. My assumptions had nothing to do with the movie but everything to do with the consistent reminders of the black male existence in America. My dilemma is with our never-ending challenge to find success in any aspect of our lives, while at the same time, changing the dialogue from defeat and pity to prosperity in a system of systems that are poised against us.

“In order to break a cycle you have to deal with the pain of what ever trauma that you’ve been through.” Donnie Smith(Wife)

They sent me a screening link, and I figured if I can get through the hour and thirty-three minutes it might be something to discuss.

ShareYourTruth-20I set up to passively watch the movie while doing my ironing for the week. I put up my ironing board, iron is hot, movie starts, I pick up the iron…

I didn’t touch any of my shirts, I didn’t iron not one article of clothing. I immediately put the iron down, picked up a pen and started taking notes. I watched the movie twice.

The movie makes the immediate distinction of what it’s not about; Rhymefest’s career, his latest album, another rapper grasping for any glimpse of that first taste of fame. For the first twenty minutes, I could not look away. If I would have tried to iron a shirt I would have burned it. Through my own research I find that Che “Rhymefest” Smith won a GRAMMY award for co-writing “Jesus Walks” with Kanye West. He’s also won an Oscar for co-writing “Glory” with Common and John Legend. The movie is not about that at all, but this movie is definitely his best work.


“I started something that I can’t turn back.” Che Smith

This movie introduces the unspoken dynamics that exist at the core of the individual and most families. These issues are inherent barriers to a man understanding himself. Like Che, I had some unresolved issues in my past that needed to get addressed. I didn’t know my entire father’s side of the family until I was about 14 years old. I didn’t know why they never sought me out. When I met them, I learned and understood where most of my behavior and traits originated. It was like finding my dna, when I met them…I felt complete.

The movie embraced me on levels of masculinity that I didn’t expect. There were iconic images of fatherhood that made me appreciate the viewing; chess playing, the haircut, the dialogue.

“Sometime it ain’t nobody’s fault, it’s just life.” Che Smith


The movie takes you through the painful cycle of homelessness. It pulls you into the emotional layers of single parenting, mentoring, juvenile issues, etc.   Every black child in America could benefit from watching this movie, but every person in America could reap an investment of compassion.

“I wish I was there more too.” Brian Tillman(Father)


Most documentaries are factually rigid and the camera presence introduces a sterile entity that bleaches the ambiance of the movie. Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg direct this movie in a way that you’re not led and you don’t follow. You are in the conversation as a family member in the story. I’m intrigued by the other endeavors of Break Thru Films. Kudos to these two women! Ricki and Annie are on a whole different echelon of filming, you rock!


“The only thing I did good in my life was Che.”

Brian Tillman

February 5, 2016

IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Tune-in to TVOne on Feb. 5 to see if we won the award for Outstanding Documentary (Film)!

IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE will be available on DVD & BluRay tomorrow on January 26th. Please watch with the males in your family.

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Ending a relationship.

Relationships, whether it’s a job, girlfriend or friendship may and will come to an end. Friendships may end because a person moved away or went off to another college or you just stopped hanging with them. You may have had a disagreement or something but that doesn’t mean you are no longer friends. If that disagreement went against what you believe in, then maybe you end the friendship, maybe not. I have a friend that is cheap and it gets on my nerves but he gives good advice about money. I don’t end the friendship because of his “tight fisted-ness” but I know when it comes to money and giving, we’re going to disagree and that’s okay.  I have a friend that doesn’t communicate well but he’s very dependable when it’s time to help me move. If I call him, he’s there and I appreciate that. Yeah, he says he invited me to his wedding but I didn’t know until I got pictures of him on the beach in the Bahamas with white on. Again, he communicates poorly but he’s one of the most dependable people I know. I don’t end the friendship over personality traits that annoy me. I got my own issues that people tolerate and I’m sure I annoy people. I can be judgmental sometimes but for some reason, people still like me. Now…if a friend steals or is a liar then I can’t be your friend. I can trust a cheap person or a person that doesn’t communicate but I can’t trust a liar or thief. Even if I choose to keep a friend that has a problem telling the truth, it’s ultimately my decision to continue to associate with them. If I deal with them I understand the risks and consequences if things go wrong.

Quitting a job is similar to ending friendships or relationships. When you started that job, you were excited, you were meeting new people and everyone was nice to you. After you settled in the position, you found out the work atmosphere was draining and the pay wasn’t as much as you thought because you had to pay for your benefits. Similar to committing to the relationship, changing jobs shouldn’t be done hastily. I’m not saying don’t quit your job or look for better opportunity but know what you’re getting yourself into. I would equally say don’t be afraid of looking for a better opportunity and don’t get too comfortable. When you do transition look at what you’ve learned about the job and position. Understand what you like about the job, and prioritize your must haves, your deal breakers. Don’t become disrespectful or change how you treat people at the job. Keep up the appearances that everything is fine. Don’t be angry and ruin your reputation in the process. I remember a position I had where I coordinated two teams, one lead was racist and he had a hard time receiving advice from me. The other lead was easy to deal with and the progress his team made in comparison was obvious to the management. I didn’t get any awards and wanted to lash out at the “racist” lead. When I announced my departure the “easy” lead sent me an email compliment that I’ll never forget. He mentioned that if I ever was looking to move again, look him up. He had his own company and know that I made that much of an impression on him, made me feel good. If you stay at one job all your life, you never know what’s out there. It’s not a bad thing but adversity makes you better, it gives you an understand of who you are. You need change to grow and know your strengths and weaknesses.

Ending a relationship is the toughest of all three. Ending a relationship is a hard decision, just as committing to a relationship shouldn’t be done hastily. There’s feelings involved and expectations somehow not met. It’s not anyones fault, it’s just a decision to go on or not. It’s not just your feelings but the other persons feelings too. You feel responsible to them but you have to be honest with yourself about why you’re ending it. It could be reverse, she could be breaking up with you. You’re going to be mad and upset but if you see things aren’t getting better then let her go. It’s selfish to want someone to be with you if they aren’t happy. Just as if you’re not happy, ask yourself, “Why?”…and “What are you going to do about it?” Regardless of the outcome you have to be honest. No fighting no abuse of any kind, just end it as friends. You’ll be hurt…she’ll be hurt but if the both of you are not completely happy, then decisions have to be made.  Ultimately it comes down to marriage and the rest of your life. Are you happy and can you live to this level of happiness for the rest of your life. Listen to me…the rest of your life, that’s a long time. Similar to a new job, you can’t go into this hastily. It doesn’t matter who in your family, likes them or doesn’t like them, this is the rest of YOUR life. This past month, I was a witness to a divorce and it was depressing. It wasn’t depressing to be a part of it, it was depressing to see all these other people going through the emotional process in that courtroom on that day in that time slot. The funny thing I had to be a witness to the same person that “told me” about his wedding in the Bahamas….crazy. He’s happier and so is she. They didn’t have any kids and luckily it’s an easy break. Yes, the emotions are there but that pain will subside. Everyone says their prepared to get married but few people even contemplate divorce.  So whether it’s a job, friendship or a relationship go about it with your eyes open and honest with yourself.

“If I get married, I want to be very married.”
Audrey Hepburn

“Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed.”
Albert Einstein

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Fatherhood: Blog 3 of 3

A police officer left a pink notice taped to the door of my grandmother’s house, it read,

“Robert L. Singleton was shot and killed yesterday, date, time, etc.”

My father was shot and killed when I was about 5 years old. There was no officer present to hug my relatives, no passing of a folded flag, just a pink notice taped to my grandmother’s front door.

My mom and I stayed in the East Falls projects in Philadelphia, PA. My father’s death was a catalyst for everyone stepping in to assist with my upbringing. I didn’t miss anything regarding my; instruction, examples, maturity and my well-being. There were dominate roles of masculinity that I identified and embodied. While I didn’t have a “father” around because of his death, I had all the examples of fatherhood all around me. My father wasn’t breaking the law, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and got shot by a police officer. In 1975, police sensitivity wasn’t an understood term, class or even a thought, especially regarding lives of black men. Interesting I guess in 2014 it’s much the same but I digress. I only have one memory of my father on or around Christmas. My mother was on his lap and they were laughing at me. I was playing with a colored wheel that turned and changed the color of the apartment interior.


Big Uncle Greg

I didn’t know my father’s side of the family until I was about 13 years old. My uncle Greg showed up at my mom’s house on Clearfield Street. I asked him, “Are you my father?” He laughed and said, “No” I guess I had been watching too many after school specials and he looked just like the only picture I had of my father. I thought he was my father come back into my life, dumb. I said I was 13 right. It’s weird because when my father was killed, my uncle Greg was the person that first saw the pink notice taped to the door.

I didn’t miss my father, I never knew him to miss him. My father’s absence wasn’t felt because I had so many strong examples of how to be a man in my life. I had my uncle Rusty and my uncle Greg that were the cornerstones of my masculinity. I had other uncles but these two were and are the men that helped define me. My grandfather was the patriarch of the family and he set the foundation but these two are the masons for the mortar. I see so much of them in me.

Big Rus...the original "Smitty"

Big Rus…the original “Smitty”

Throughout my life, I was taught to be a man.

Whether it was women, men, uncles, friends, I was taught at an early age to always work on being a better man. Growing up it’s easy to see the easy way out and take that route. I’m here to tell you, that’s nonsense, the easy way out doesn’t help you become a man. Try to do the right thing, be responsible, tell the truth, stay out of trouble and define yourself by learning from the good examples around you. I learned early, watch people who are smart, positive, and good…then copy them! Success at anything you do will come if you start with being positive and doing good.

I’m not a father but the last single purpose left in my life is to be a husband and father. Most of my closest friends share the same goal as I. My friends have children and I see the change in them through that blessing. One of my closest friends, Derrick continually says, “I want that for you man, you deserve it.” He has three now, two of them are my God-children.

Derrick, Cyrus

Derrick, Cyrus

Derrick, Cyrus

Derrick, Cyrus

Riley, Derrick, Jacob

Riley, Derrick, Jacob


Most, if not, all of us were raised without fathers and we had this aligned goal of never fathering a child without being present in that child’s life. I see it in all my friends as fathers, subtle and overwhelming, serious and hilarious. One time I was talking to my friend Terry and he tells me to hold on, then I hear him and his daughter, Autumn say “Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!!!”.  He does this thing with letting the car drift on a certain block with a big hill. It’s hilarious to envision this 6’1′ dude being a big kid with his daughter.

Terry and Asia

Terry and Asya

Terry and Autumn

Terry and Autumn







Seeing Luke leading the Halloween parade and hearing the pride of Lydell, his father are those moments that best capture fatherhood.

Lydell and Luke

Lydell and Luke

It fills me with envy and happiness at the same time.




Adrian and son

Adrian and son




Bernard and Kirsten

Bernard and Kirsten


There are no thugs in these pictures, no criminals, no drug dealers, no dead beat dads, and no “baby daddy’s”. Yes, there are some men that are not married to the mothers of their children but they are NOT baby daddys. Baby daddy are these guys that I classify as the guy that inseminates a woman(gets her pregnant), and leaves her to raise a child on her own, unassisted. The men in these pictures, ALL these pictures, are fathers that are involved with their children lives. Fathers; visit with teachers, help with homework, attend college tours, share custody, take them on proms, give them birthday parties, take them to college and attend parent teacher conferences. These men made good choices as young men and have the ability to be leaders of their families.

I just visited my “brother” Tracey, yesterday, who has a 6 week old. I arranged to stop over to buy books from his entertainment company, LLeft. I really wanted to see the new addition to the family, his newborn, Tanner. I spent the last 6 weeks sharing the joy of their newborn through he and his wife’s, Facebook posts. Tanner is the reason I wrote the three blogs about family, brotherhood and fatherhood. It inspired me to write about these core things in my life. So this is dedicated the “heiress” Tanner Lorin Lee and to that moment that a man becomes a father and he no longer lives selfishly. He lives to raise a child to be better than him. The act of pouring  everything you are into this little person that you created.

Yesterday I asked Tracey “What does it feel like to be a father? What word would you use to describe the feeling?”

He simply stated it’s “unimaginable, euphoric”.


Tracey Lee & Tanner Lorin Lee


“Children are one-third of our population and all of our future.”

~Select Panel for the Promotion of Child Health, 1981

“Children are our most valuable resource.”

-Herbert Hoover, 31st U.S. president

“Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.”
Robert A. Heinlein


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