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The Poverty of Fatherlessness: Blair Linne's Story

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
September 1, 2023 3:00 am

The Poverty of Fatherlessness: Blair Linne's Story

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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September 1, 2023 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, like so many fatherless children, Blair Linne had a hole in her heart. She had a loving mom, but went from home to home to home (25 in all) in her search for stability and a family she could call her own. Here's her story of ending a generational curse. 

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Listen to find strength in community on the MG journey on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. This is Lee Habib, and this is Our American Stories. And we tell stories about everything here on this show, including yours. Send them to OurAmericanStories.com.

They're some of our favorites. Blair Lynn's personal story of growing up without a father at home reflects the experiences of millions of Americans. Blair beautifully told her story in her book, Finding My Father, and she's here to share it with us. Here's Blair Lynn.

The section on my birth certificate reserved for my father's name is blank. After my mother found out she was pregnant with me, she actually decided that she wasn't going to keep me. And so she went to the doctor, the local doctor, and they said she was too far along in that small town to have an abortion.

In order to do it, she would have to go to a larger city, like Chicago or Detroit. And at that time, she didn't really have the resources to be able to do that. And as she was sorting it through, she found herself actually going and talking to a Baptist pastor, someone who she didn't know, who the family didn't know, to try to get some advice on it. And the pastor tried to convince her not to go through with it. And so she then decided, well, I'm going to give her up for adoption.

I'll have her, but I'm going to give her up. And so when she had me, she actually went to the hospital alone because my grandmother, Mama, her mother wasn't happy that her daughter had had or was going to have two children out of wedlock. And so she went to the hospital, had me, and right when she had me, she told me that all I did was I stared at her, like I just looked at her.

It's like I couldn't take my eyes off of her. And she's told me this story many times how that resonated with her. And then the doctor came in and talked to her. The doctor looked at her and said, you don't look like the type of woman who would give your child away.

And those things, I think the pastor's words and the doctor and maybe my gaze at her, caused her to make the decision that she was going to keep me. My mother was 21 years old when she had me. And at that time, she had my sister at 17. So she was a single mother with two daughters. When I was three years old, she decided to move us from our small town in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Los Angeles, California.

And she had the desire to raise two movie stars. Actually, we had taken a Greyhound bus. We had a one-way ticket. Right before my mother left, she had only had $200 in her pocket. But her brother gave her $100 just before we boarded the bus.

We got on that bus, headed to Los Angeles. My mother had never been there. We didn't know anyone there.

We didn't have anything set up for us when we would arrive. But we went there and basically found ourselves in a shelter in Pasadena, California. We stayed there for a couple of weeks. And then my mother took us to Hollywood, where she got us a hotel for two days.

And, you know, money was starting to run out at this point. She wasn't sure what she was going to do. So I remember us walking down, I think it was Sunset Boulevard, and we were trying to figure out what our next step would be. And I remember my mother telling us, I was three, my sister was seven, and she said, Pray. She went over to a grocery store to get some orange juice, and she met a security guard.

And she told him the situation, and she wasn't sure exactly what to do. Well, he allowed us to stay in his home. He opened up his home to us for a few months. And really, I would say within that year and a half of first being in Los Angeles, we stayed in about five different homes. We moved around a whole lot.

From that first move to living in that security guard's home, until I was old enough to get my own apartment, we moved 25 times. And so I was experiencing what many fatherless children experience, which is poverty. You know, we suffered a lot. There were times where my mother missed meals in order to allow my sister and I to eat. My sister and I, we depended so much, of course, on my mother. She was all we had. And my mother sacrificed immensely for us. She wanted us to have the best.

So what she did was, when she didn't have much, she still invested in us. So she, at a young age, researched acting classes, researched how to take headshots, on-camera classes, how to get an agent. And at nine years old, I was able to secure an agent.

My sister and I both were able to. And so that dream that she had for us, we began to walk in that, going to auditions on the bus or at times in our beat-up car, you know. And I remember her taking us to charm school.

And at 13 years old, I was able to work on my very first commercial, which was a Pizza Hut commercial. So as we were growing up, I mean, there were, of course, many struggles being in a single-parent home. My mom was who I looked to for everything, right? She defined for me who I am. She defined for me who God was. She was the one who kept me alive. So I remember when we would be on the playground or we would be at school at recess, there was always, always silence when someone would bring up a yo mama joke. And you've been listening to Blair Lynn's story of her mother, her single mom, doing her best, as all single moms do, to raise her children. And as Blair said, we moved 25 times, experiencing what many fatherless families experience.

And that's poverty. But my goodness, the love of mom, the love of God, and that dream and that hope that the mother instilled in these kids. We're going to hear more of this remarkable story and voice. Blair Lynn's story continues here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation. A monthly gift of $17.76 is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to OurAmericanStories.com now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American stories coming.

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Listen to Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. And we continue with our American stories and with Blair Lynn's story. We last heard Blair describe how her mother, like most of her peers, was her everything. This is why there was a silence when anyone told a yo mama joke. Let's pick up from here.

Here again is Blair Lynn. So someone would say, yo mama's this, you know. I mean, they were fighting words. Yo mama, you would talk about someone's mom? And I don't remember people talking about your daddy jokes.

Like, that wasn't a thing. But your mama, that definitely was something that would cause someone to get into a fight, as they would say, to put on the Vaseline, take the earrings off, and be ready to tussle. And I wonder if a big part of that is because so many of us in my community being raised in South Central Los Angeles, so many of us were raised by our moms. There were some dads around, but for many of my friends, it was the mom who was holding down the fort, who was taking care of their children without the presence of that father there in their life. And what I realized was I was living out what many single-parent children live out.

Many children who live in a single-parent home are suffering, as I said, with poverty. I also suffered with identity. I suffered because I struggled to appreciate authority.

I struggled with anger as I was coming up. My father had been in my life before we moved to Los Angeles, I would say, for snippets here and there. I do remember he would bring me bags of candy, bags with bazooka gum and lemonheads and candy cigarettes, Mars bars.

I remember I would be in heaven. He loved candy, and that was kind of his love language toward me. But once we moved to Los Angeles, our relationship really looked like a series of phone calls here and there. They were sporadic.

It might be that we would talk a couple of times a year, and it would be a few minutes each call. And so there really wasn't that relationship between us. So just around the corner from me, there was a street gang, the Black P-Stones, which was a blood gang.

And I remember these young men beaming with pride because of their gang affiliation, but I didn't see that same smiles. I didn't see the same joy when they were told they were going to be a father. So I remember there were times where many friends of mine were just like me, being raised, if not even by their mother or by their grandmother, because they didn't have their father.

The father was missing from their lives. So when I was 13, my mother actually sat us down, my sister and I, and told us that she was pregnant. And when she told me, I mean, of course we were in shock, because for one, my mom at that time, I didn't know that she was dating anyone.

And so it was a shock to my sister and I. But my mother's belly began to expand, and she soon found out that she was actually going to have a boy. And I was so excited for her, because actually, as harsh as it may seem, I remember her sharing with me, she wanted me to be a boy. And so when she expressed that, I knew that that was what she always wanted.

So I was beaming with pride. I would be a big sister. And so my mother had my brother, and when she had him, I was there.

I remember going to the hospital. And it was crazy, because when we went into the hospital, you go to registration, and they only allow you to have one guest. Well, here's my mother. She's a single mother. She has two children. And so they told her, you can only have one guest. She says, well, I have two children, so if you can't accept my two children, then I'm leaving. Now, I don't know where my mother was going to go. She's about to give birth, but she stood up for her children and said, this is what I have. And so they said, okay, okay.

They basically changed the rule. You can come. And so we came into the hospital. I went in, and I watched my mother get a C-section at 13. I remember it very vividly. And I remember holding my brother in my hands for the first time, just excited to have him in our family. And oftentimes in the morning, I would wake up. I would be the first one to hear his cry.

I would run in to go and feed him and change his diaper. And I just wanted to be the best big sister I could be. And this particular morning I had done that, just as usual. I then proceeded to go ahead and get ready for school.

And it was just like any other day. And when I was coming back from recess, I got a call to go to the attendance office. I said, okay, so got on the phone. And as I was on the phone, I was told that my brother had died. And all I remember just screaming, no!

That was all that I could get out was just screaming no through the attendance office. And it was interesting because I didn't realize, even though I was living it out, that fatherlessness actually increases the infant mortality rate. So not having a father in the home, you're twice as likely to have a child die, specifically an infant die in your home. And so we were three children without our three fathers. And we were just trying to grapple with this great tragedy, another tragedy that we had experienced. I was 13. So I blamed myself. My sister blamed herself. My mother blamed herself for our own reasons. But for me, I blamed myself because I was the last one to actually lay him down on the bed. And he died from SIDS.

It was interesting to realize now, looking back, that I was actually living out a statistic I didn't know even existed at the time. So being raised in a single-parent home, I would often look at my mom. And she was looked at as kind of the strong black woman, the one who can handle it all. And I remember on Father's Day, I would often write her a thank-you card.

I would sign it out to her and try to express my appreciation from my young self. And that kind of is how our society tells us we should engage our mothers who are single mothers, that they can handle it all, that they are to take on or can take on this father role. The reality is my mother is my mother, right? She's not to be my father. She can't take the place of my father, nor can he take her place, right? Mothers do what mothers do.

Sometimes they'll take on the role of the father. But the reality is I needed my father in my life. And as wonderful as my mother was and all the sacrifices that she made and everything that she did to keep my sister and I alive, she could never replace my dad. I still longed for him. I still needed him in my life to give only what he could. I, of course, at a young age didn't fully understand the implications of not having a dad in the home.

It really wasn't until I was 18. Some guys started to express interest in me. And so I started to question my identity. I wondered, who am I?

And what do I look for in a guy? So I remember I wanted to have a conversation with my dad. I wanted to express to him how his absence had impacted me. But I was so afraid that if I did that, I might lose the interaction that we did have, that small interaction in those phone calls.

But at 18, I had a conversation with him. I really faced my fears, and I just told him, I'm suffering. I'm hurt by you. I'm really struggling with you not being in my life.

And I'm trying to sort through who I am. But I've been so afraid to share that with you. And what he did in that conversation was he shared with me his own fears. And you've been listening to Blair Lynn tell her story. We've told quite a number of stories of the consequence of fatherlessness on boys. And we've told quite a number of stories on what it does to girls. And my goodness, you're hearing it straight from Blair Lynn's mouth. I was living out what many children of fatherless kids suffer, not just poverty, but identity, she said.

And authority. This cuts across all racial lines. My wife did not have a father. And my goodness, it had grave consequences for her.

He had played no part in her life. The reality is, I needed a father in my life. And by the way, she loved her mom. And her mom was a hero and did everything she could.

But nothing can replace the love of a father. Nothing. The story of Blair Lynn continues here on Our American Stories. Not to mention all the free TV you can stream, including over 300 free live channels on the Roku channel. Find the perfect Roku player for you today at roku.com.

Happy streaming. For each person living with myasthenia gravis, or MG, their journey with this rare neuromuscular condition is unique. That's why Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis, a new podcast from iHeartRadio in partnership with Argenics, is exploring the extraordinary challenges and personal triumphs of underserved communities living with MG. Host Martine Hackett will share powerful perspectives from people living with the debilitating muscle weakness and fatigue caused by this rare disorder. Each episode will uncover the reality of life with myasthenia gravis. From early signs and symptoms to obtaining an accurate diagnosis and finding care, every person with MG has a story to tell. And by featuring these real-life experiences, this podcast hopes to inspire the MG community, educate others about this rare condition, and let those living with it know that they are not alone.

Listen to Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. And we continue with our American stories. We last heard how Blair shared with her father when she was 18, how much pain his absence caused in her life. And by the way, the courage she had to summon to have that conversation with her dad, because what she didn't want to do was risk the little, small relationship they had, but she wanted more, and she took a bet on her and him. Surprisingly, that bet paid off. He opened up to her. Let's return to Blair. I remember him walking me through, you know, how he didn't have his father in his life when he was coming up.

He was really repeating that same cycle, and he didn't know what to do. I saw my dad's humanity in that moment, and so it really changed how I engaged with him, and he started to seek to be more present in my life after that point. One thing that actually has been helpful for me, I remember visiting the Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

I visited it three times, and honestly, I can't wait to go back, because it's just, there's so much history. It's such a rich resource for African Americans, but also for Americans. While I was there, there is actually this ring by a reverend from South Carolina, Reverend Glennie, and they have the actual ring, and they have his journal, where he documented over 400 marriages. Now, this was a time where marriage was illegal, because he was documenting this, and actually holding these weddings during slavery. And so, you know, slaves were not legally allowed to marry, but yet many of them exchanged vows in a Christian ceremony. I remember Frederick Douglass, he says this in his book, My Bondage and My Freedom. He talks about the effects that slavery has had upon fatherhood, and the family. He says, and I quote, Slavery does away with fathers, as it does away with families. Slavery has no use for either fathers or families, and its laws do not recognize their existence in the social arrangements of the plantation. When they do exist, they are not the outgrowths of slavery, but are antagonistic to that system, end quote. You know, so, you know, what he's saying is, yeah, that in order for someone to actually be married, and to have family, and to have a father, it is completely antagonistic to the system of slavery, right?

We know so many families were ripped apart during slavery. As I've done my research, I've come to realize that employment will actually increase the likelihood of a man marrying the mother of his child by eightfold. And then as you continue to go through history, then you have welfare, right?

Which, you know, was kind of heightened in the 70s and 80s. The welfare system came in, and it was actually helpful to many families, feeding many hungry children. But one of the stipulations in order for you to be on welfare was that you could not have a man in the home. And there were these actual raids that happened, which enforced that if a man was found in the home, that they would actually take away that welfare help. And so it encouraged women to say, I don't want my man to be in the home. And they would often show up at random times at night and early morning, you know, to make sure that that wasn't happening. So this is an issue that impacts all of us.

It's not just an African-American issue. Well, fast forward to, I was 22 years old. At this point, I'd began, I mean, I was doing commercials and television and did a film. But when I was 22, I actually started to see many parts of my life that I had tried to uphold. I tried to be so moral.

I started to see some of that crumbling. I remember, you know, making choices and doing things that I said I would never do. I saw, even as I was acting, I saw myself compromising in ways I said I would never compromise. And at that time, I really was challenged with my faith. I had made a profession of faith when I was nine years old.

I had said that, oh, yes, I want to know God. But I really kind of went on to live a moral life. But when I was 22, a friend of mine talked to me about God and really began to challenge the profession I had made. And that was hard for me because it's often hard when someone challenges you.

And it kind of put me in a low point in life. I was seeking and trying to figure out life and where God was. I remember even going and meeting with a psychic, trying to figure out, you know, what is my purpose and who am I?

What should my next steps be? Well, the psychic kind of ripped me off. The psychic took my money, took $200 of my money and was nowhere to be found. So I was just left wandering and lost. And so it kind of took me on this journey of re-establishing my faith.

What does it look like? So what I did, I remember praying. I remember crying out to God because I felt so hopeless because of all these things that I said, oh, I'm so strong, I'll never do these things.

And I found myself falling right into those traps, really kind of becoming the statistic that, you know, when you look at even fatherless children, there are many statistics that we can fall into. And that was what my path was charting me out to become. And so what I did was I prayed. I cried out to God because I felt I deserved what the Bible says, the punishment for my sins. I was a sinner.

I didn't want to really agree with it. But the more that I read the Bible, I realized I've sinned against a holy God. And if I was to compare myself to other people, which was what I had often did throughout my life, I was doing pretty good. But when I compared myself to the standard of the Bible, I realized, uh, I am in need. And so I cried out in a state of hopelessness, really. And in that moment of hopelessness, I was reminded that that's exactly why Jesus Christ came for sinners like me.

And I cried out and God answered my prayer. And I recognized in that moment what it meant to truly be a Christian, not just in word, but also that there's a transformation that happens in our life. And that transformed my whole life. That transformed my whole life. And so I started to rethink acting. Should I continue to act?

If I do, how will it look different than it has looked before? What does it look like to actually have convictions and live those out? As I went on my journey, I eventually ended up meeting a man who expressed his interest in me. And so even as I was dating this guy who was expressing his interest in me, I didn't even know to go to my dad, you know, that my dad could be there as a listening ear, as someone to kind of, you know, as they say, dust the gun collection off, right?

You know, to see who's this guy who's interested in my daughter. I didn't know that. But what I did know, because now that I had a relationship with God, I now had a new relationship with the church, right? So I did have men in my life and women in my life, right, who had come in as family.

And so I did walk with them, and they walked with me through this journey. I did ask my dad to walk me down the aisle, and he did, which was sweet. But now I have an opportunity through my marriage. I now have three children who are nine, seven, and six. I have an opportunity to now pour into them a legacy that really, I didn't fully have the opportunity to have. And so my story is that now I want to say that we actually can break these fatherlessness cycles that are so prevalent in many children in the United States. I think one in three children grow up without their dad, like me.

And so my heart is just to express that it doesn't have to end that way. And a great job, as always, by Greg Hengler on the production and the editing, and a special thanks to Blair Lynn. Her book is Finding My Father. Blair lives in Philadelphia with her husband, who is a Christian hip-hop artist named Shy Lynn.

Blair Lynn's story of beauty, of real beauty, here on Our American Stories. You wouldn't settle for watching a blurry TV, would you? So why settle for just okay TV sound? Upgrade your streaming and sound all in one with Roku Streambar. This powerful two-in-one upgrade for any TV lets you stream your favorite entertainment in brilliant 4K HDR picture and hear every detail with auto speech clarity. Whether you're hosting a party or just cleaning the house, turn it up and rock out with iHeartRadio and room-filling sound. Learn more about Roku Streambar today at roku.com.

Happy streaming. Hey, this is Terrace. I downloaded all my favorite things into my new Roblox experience. It's called Slivingland. Sliving.

It's got everything I love. Discovering. Shopping. Collecting. Partying with my friends. Slay. Live. Slive.

And now celebrating her new podcast series, The History of the World's Greatest Nightclubs, on iHeartRadio. Come slive it up and jump through the portal to iHeartland for a quest to unlock a limited edition UGC item. It's going to be epic. Now you're starting. Slivingland on Roblox.

Loves it. For each person living with myasthenia gravis, or MG, their journey with this rare condition is unique. That's why Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis, a new podcast from iHeartRadio in partnership with Argenics, is exploring the extraordinary challenges and personal triumphs of underserved communities living with MG. Host Martine Hackett will share these powerful perspectives from real people with MG so their experiences can help inspire the MG community and educate others about this rare condition. Listen to find strength in community on the MG journey on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-01 04:16:57 / 2023-09-01 04:30:07 / 13

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