The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Answering Questions on Adulthood

“Similarly, when you talk about welfare what do you mean? Does unemployment insurance decrease adulthood? SS? Medicare or Medicaid? I assume you're talking solely about AFDC. Why?”

Primarily because AFDC is most usually referenced by Conservatives against welfare, especially when they make comments about its effect on minority communities.
Re: Goals

“Or someone who starts going after another one of these goals at 5** and feels he or she has reached it at 10*?”

There are child actors who can support themselves—and their families—by the age of ten. They may very well, assuming healthy relationships and a mature and balanced approach to fitness, be on their way to a fine adulthood. But absent an insane level of mature precocity, I wouldn’t consider them adults. Sort of like “Junior Black Belts” with all the technique, but none of the muscle strength and mature joint mobility. “Junior Adults” maybe?

“My question to you is: If there were some large country in Africa that had been as succesful as South Korea or Taiwan over the last few decades, do you think that would have any effect on how African-Americans see themselves? That is, if people of African decent could look at an African country and go, "Damn, but they are doing good."* would that make a difference to them in providing some extra-US society that they could more easily look up to?”

Yes. It wouldn’t have a devastating, sweeping effect, but it would shut up a lot of racists, provide talking points, and provide a role model for success that other African countries could use.


"Blacks never got even."

Got even with who? Me? I was born in 1964 and (not that it is likely to matter to anybody, but for the record) both sides of my family were strongly in favor of civil rights long, long before it was trendy.

Simon Legree's been dead for something like 120 years. Even the southern whites who howled for "segregation forever" in the 1950s are now either dead or very old. So who are blacks in 2007 A.D. supposed to be getting even with, at this point?
Blacks AS A GROUP never got even with whites, or white slave owners AS A GROUP. I think that the helplessness of, say, being beaten by your step-father as a helpless child stays with people their entire lives. In the same way, to the degree that psychology might be considered quantum sociology, the damage of being stripped of all normal male prerogative, and never having the option of getting even, has been devastating. And, of course, my point is that there is NO ONE to “get even” with anymore. Did you hear me advocating violence? Or even reparations? Or even Welfare? No, you didn’t. And you won’t. I advocate love, forgiveness, remembrance of history, and total personal responsibility.

But I know the male animal. And I know the female animal. And there is mucho resentment from black females toward black males, and I have a suspicion that some of it is simply: “if you bastards had been on your job, and killed every white man who set foot on African soil, we wouldn’t BE in this mess right now.” Yeah, it’s irrational, but human beings are like that.

“I guess I'm now an adult. I still daydream but now (as opposed to when I was young) I know what the realistic chances are of my daydreams coming true. I still daydream about being a superhero and saving the world (don't tell me you don't also, I won't believe you) but now I don't try to persuade myself that it could happen.”

Daydreams almost never come true. Goals often do. The difference is writing them down and finding role models for success, and then mapping out a course of action that, with luck and massive hard work, might take you there. I believe that I can accomplish anything that anyone else can do, if they started with my basic tools and resources. I haven’t always been right. But in other instances, I’ve exceeded my expectations. And at times I am disappointed that I haven’t done more. I guess that’s just life.


“Is adulthood necessarily a somber and serious period of life? In the comics world, a lot of lip service is being given to the idea of fun comics, where fun means the kinds of books one might have read as a child and are aimed more at children. Are adults fun? Besides sex, what is adult fun? Is following one's bliss adult fun? Those are the big questions that I'm struggling with at the moment.”

Hell yes, Adulthood is fun! I get all the fun I ever had as a kid, plus major perks. Man, climbing on Kilimanjaro, jet-biking in the Bahamas, walking Munich at midnight, sky-diving, watching my daughter born, and watching my childhood dreams realized in the material world are more fun than I ever DREAMED of having as a kid. I love this life, and this world, and this country, and all of the friends and teachers and students that have helped me understand myself, and outgrow my childhood. And now I get to help my own children, and anyone I can reach, find the same joy. I am one happy, self-contented SOB, let me tell you. Adulthood flat-out rocks. And when you are willing to really accept that responsibility, the “child” aspect of your personality wakes up and, safe for the first time since leaving your parent’s house, that “child” creativity can burst forth to an exceptional degree. There is no comparison, and I feel terribly sorry for people who feel afraid to leave the cocoon of childhood to embrace their Butterflyness.

“Maybe you're an adult to the extent that you don't feel the need to spend any energy convincing everyone around you that you're really an adult....”

Amen to that. Sharing the joy and light is one thing. It’s been a long time since I felt a compulsion to prove much of anything to anyone. Still a few residual ego shards here and there, but “proving” myself was a part of, say, my first ten years in the SF field. Those who’ve known me a long time may feel free to comment on what I was like then, and if they feel I’m the same way now.
## my opinion, the problems of individual human beings, America or the specific difficulties of Black America would be 90% alleviated simply by tracing out a clearer path between childhood, adolescence, and true human Adulthood. We all agree that responsibility is a major key. And that can be painful as hell. Letting our parents, society, men, whites, straights, skinnies, or whoever else you believe oppressed you--even if they did--off the hook can feel like defeat. It is not. Unless you are going to kill your enemy, forgive him. That's not to say to forget what he did to you. But negative emotions hurt no one but you and your family. We cannot afford that, no matter what "we" we're talking about.

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