Recently, I was watching one of Chris Rock’s classic stand-up shows, Bigger & Blacker. It never fails that every time I watch it there is one skit that cracks me up with no hesitation—the big piece of chicken. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend you look it up; that’s if you’re looking for a good laugh. Needless to say, it’s downright hilarious. As with the majority of Chris Rock’s jokes, there is always an underlining punch-line of extreme significance. Rock didn’t necessarily have one for this particular skit, so I decided to create one on my own.
From various social media outlets to major publications, there have been plenty of discussions on the deterioration of the African-American family. Whether it is teenage pregnancy or single-parent homes, the alarm has been sounding off for decades (many neglect to acknowledge the negative impacts of social-economic factors and mental aspects of post-slavery). There is one headliner that I would like to explore within the context of the comedic skit of the big piece of chicken—head of the household.
Before I engage you with this topic, let me break down the meaning of the big piece of chicken for those of you who are not familiar with the phrase. Basically the big piece of chicken is supposed to be reserved for the men (fathers & husbands) who work hard at their job as providers. In Chris Rocks words: “A father’s award for his hard work.” And what a prestigious award it is. To some it means more: respect, honor, loyalty and appreciation.
The topic of the natural order of the household has come under some scrutiny over the last couple of years. Nobody knows who the H.S.I.C (Head Spouse in Charge) is any more. With any type of unit, there must be a leader, chief, headman or headwoman; whatever you want to call it. However, I will add that leadership does not include being a dictator or ruler (many get this confused). A leader is someone who possesses a unique quality or trait that sets a positive tone for his/her respective unit.
In most religious sectors, the household structure is listed as: husband (protector & provider), wife (child-rearing & manager of the home), and then the children. This is an order that many of our parents and prior generations lived by. We’re living in a time now that this way of living and thinking is beginning to shift. There are several factors that contribute to this: more women obtaining higher-education, more women taking on leadership roles (in the workforce), fewer men basically being— men (a broader topic).
When I was coming up, my household followed a similar pecking order. Even though both my mother and father worked, it was well-known who the head of the household was. This was proven at the dinner table when the food was served. We all knew that the big piece of chicken was reserved for my father. If for some reason someone else ate the big piece of chicken, let’s just say that there would be hell to pay.
As I reflect on this now, I have to ask myself, who gets the big piece of chicken today? It’s been well documented that there has been a sudden shift in the hierarchy from the traditional household. More women are taking on dual roles (provider/protector and child-rearing), more women are earning more in the workplace, and quite honestly, some men can’t take it. More men are acting like women and women are acting like men. So at dinner time, no one is really sure who gets the big piece of chicken any more.
There is fault at the doorstep of both parties involved: the insecurities of men and the extreme “I’m an independent woman” mentality (especially the, ‘I don’t need a man’ types). So how did we get here? One can’t deny the impact that being reared in a single-parent home (absence of daddy) has had on children. For young boys, too often they don’t have that ‘man’ around to show him how to be a man. In return they seek and find stereotypical aspects of ‘manhood’ that they soon subject themselves to. For young girls, they see mama playing both roles of mama & daddy. In some cases those girls automatically begin to develop an independent mentality, because that’s what they’ve been accustomed to. In their household, mama always ate the big piece of chicken, so when they get older, it’s hard for them to relinquish that so-called power (which creates a huge wedge in some relationships).
Let me say that I’m all for the advancement of women’s rights. I believe that their role does expand outside of just managing the house. The contributions they’ve made to society are priceless. As James Brown stated, “This is a man’s world, but it would be nothing without a woman or girl.” Just look at the recent movements of today. The majority of them are being lead by women. They’ve picked up the ball that was dropped by us as men. Maybe all of this is a wake-up call for men. Soon enough there will be a new song that goes, “This is a woman’s world, but it would be nothing without a man or boy.”
So men, how do we get to earn that big piece of chicken at the dinner table again? For starters, in order to eat, we at least got to be at the table. It is reality check time fellas. Women are no longer just sitting around waiting for us to get our ‘stuff’ together. While we’re talking, they’re doing—huge difference. We make time for the things that matters to us. So if your status as becoming “real men” again means a great deal to you, then you must put in the effort and time to do just that. You don’t have to make the most money, drive the best car, have the best clothes, or be able to build a house with your bare hands. However, in order for us to get that big piece of chicken back on our dinner plate, we must be worthy of it. And to the women who just look for false qualities of manhood such as money, cars, and clothes, you will forever be eating alone or have various men eating the big piece of chicken, pouring all your hot sauce, eating all the sides, getting all full, and leave the table and you all alone when he’s done.