What Makes One An ‘Uncle’?

Shannon Sharpe and Tom Verducci (whose role will expand to college ...
My favorite Uncle on TV, Uncle Shan (Shannon Sharpe)!

We hear a lot of things in the culture about Aunties. Everybody Black has been adopted by one time or another –or permanently—by a Black woman whom was not their mother, grandmother or in this case, an aunt.

We all know aunts are dope–I know mine are! They are brilliant, available, transparent and take no isht. From anyone! They have been my soil in this garden I call my womanhood. But with that said, I had to start thinking. What makes a good ‘Uncle’?

From that critieria, I have come up with four things that make a man an uncle. I will use my own adopted uncle, retired NFL great Shannon Sharpe as the backdrop by which to paint (Shameless plug: Watch UNDISPUTED on ESPN).

1.) Swag/Coolness Quotient. Uncles have to be cool, man! They have to be able to talk to you about anything, and have the ability to guide as well as snatch up! An uncle has to have the strength your Dad would have, and be cool enough to keep a secret. A real uncle will not tell on you if you got suspended for having a fight, and would want to know if you won.

2.) Can Unc Burn? A good uncle know how to barbecue. I don’t care! I don’t care! I don’t care! UNCLES MUST KNOW HOW TO COOK! They have to have a special dish they make, be in charge of an food related outing! Something! Every good uncle has to know how to cook! How else can you get the kids to talk? How else will you find out about the nephew that’s struggling, or your niece that is scared–food makes a place safe, and the person safe. When you can make a meal, you can make a safe space. Trust.

3.) A Special Set Of Skills. Uncles are great sources of stories, encouragement, information, and can teach you anything if you are willing to learn. An uncle needs to be able to teach you something you can apply to your life and be a tool! A good uncle will always have a tool! Whether it be how to through a spiral, how to take a hit, how talk to the police, how to talk to a girl–or how to come out—uncles are reservoirs of information. Tap into one!

4.) #TeamYou. Uncles are supposed uplift, support, model and love. And I don’t think the world knows exactly how tough that is! Imparting into kids is hard, imparting into other people’s kids is harder. Uncles are to be life rafts, and anchors, man! Do you know how powerful it is to have a man show up when you need to in your life–to tell you can do anything? Anything at all? That is powerful, dear ones. Don’t minimize this. Uncles can speak life into you too. Don’t dismiss the people–the male voices–willing to speak in your lives, Torches. Male energy is needed to navigate through life too!

Aunts and Uncles are the backbone of The Culture! It’s time that we love on our uncles too! I, as of last year, only have one uncle. One. All my father’s brothers are gone–and I miss the deep bass of their voices, their hugs, and their reassurance that no matter ‘how big’ I got, I would still be the same little girl with all the barrettes, frilly dresses and ruffle socks—I was still my Daddy’s girl.

But, until I see my uncles on The Otherside, I am going to bask in the Melaninated Sun of Shannon Sharpe. The world needs to take note when a Black man comes on ESPN, in a suit–only to change into a wave cap, with a red Solo cup, with a Black and mild cigarello–the nieces and nephew already now what’s up.

[photo from ESPN]

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