Just taking some time to acknowledge and celebrate Black fathers.Song Inspiration: Champion x Kanye West
As we all should know by now, Father’s Day is some time in June. Each year I remind myself to be on top of finding a Father’s Day gift for the dads in my life and almost each year I wait until the last minute to get something and unfortunately this year is no different. As Father’s Day quickly approaches, I have been dragging my feet on trying to find the perfect gifts for my dads. This brought up conversation around why it’s so easy to celebrate the mothers in our lives in comparison to how difficult it is to celebrate our dads.
Historically speaking, the roles of fatherhood in the Black community have been tainted by the trauma evoked on the Black family structure that dates all the way back to slavery. En route to America, Black men, women and children were separated from their families with little to no hope of seeing each other ever again. Once in America, Black men and women were separated yet again and sold into slavery, stationed on plantations throughout the country. Eventually, Black men and women had the opportunity to be joined together in marriage while still enslaved. The act of marriage was signified by way of “jumping the broom,” where the marriage ceremony consisted of a broom being laid down before the bride and groom for them to jump over because there was no legal recognition of Black marriages during that time.
Once the marriage was established by the couple, they would typically begin to reproduce and start a family. Although family units were created during this time, they could still be easily torn apart by way of slave owners. The Black man had no control over what happened to him or his family both physically and economically. There was no autonomy for decision making over the Black household. For the majority of Black families, there were no means of economic gain outside of slavery. If a slave master wanted to rape the Black man’s wife or sell his children to another plantation owner, the Black man had no say. If the slave owner decided to sell the Black man to another plantation owner, he would have no choice but to be separated from his wife and children, most likely never to be seen by his family again. This cycle has continued for years post-slavery-just repackaged.
The divide in the Black household post-slavery was further pushed by the systematic disenfranchisement of the Black man. Employment opportunities for Black males were few and far in between, crippling the Black man’s ability to provide for his family. Black men were given jobs that were less than desirable with minimal pay. Desperately in search of economic gain, some Black men took to the streets to find quick but illegal means of income to supplement the need. Which leads me to the incarceration rates in the united states. Although the Black population in the united states is about 12%, Black bodies make up 33% of the prison population. Black males are six times more likely to be incarcerated than any other racial group. Black men also serve longer sentences for the same crimes as other ethnic counterparts. As we also know that historically, Black men have suffered untimely death at the hands of police brutality. Educationally speaking, Black men are more likely to be suspended from school, or disciplined harshly, and the graduation rates for Black men in high school/college are low in comparison to Black women. The societal structure for Black fatherhood has set Black men up to fail.
So as you can imagine, because of historical trauma, among other things that are out of the Black man’s control, Black dads get a bad rep. I just want to be clear: I am in no means making excuses for Black fathers who are not present in the lives of their children. I am just providing some historical context as to why some of these barriers exist in the Black family. I want to take a moment to celebrate the Black dads in our lives, even if they aren’t necessarily our own.
The Black father figures in my life have truly shaped me into the woman that I am today. I just want to acknowledge these men for a minute. My Papa Don, who taught me how to be confident and go for what I want in life with boldness, through his hilarious stories that showed me that chances make champions. To my Papa on granny’s side for teaching me how to give back to my community through acts of service. To my Papa Calvin who keeps me laughing and goes above and beyond for me. There’s no doubt in my mind that he would travel near and far just to spend time with me no matter what we would be doing that day. To my Dad, who teaches me how to take it one day at a time, not sweating the things I cannot control. The one I get my sense of humor from and my bomb taste in music. The one who supported me through college whether it was visits, dramatic phone calls, or financial draining of his pockets at the drop of a hat. To the wonderful dad I was blessed with at age 12. When he came into my life, I was a moody pre-teen who felt like she didn’t need anyone else. He was patient with me, cared for me and loved me even when I tried my hardest to be unlovable. He would be at every game, band concert and award ceremony. He would cook dinner and do laundry all while balancing a full-time job, household chores/responsibilities and being active in the lives of all of his daughters. To my brother-in-law who just gets me. I don’t have to say much for him to understand where I’m coming from. He brings so much peace. He is a dedicated father who loves hard taught me how to be selfless. I am so appreciative of you all and the sacrifices you’ve made for me and others.
So, if you’re like me, and don’t have the slightest clue as to what you’re going to give your dad for Father’s Day, or you don’t have a father in your life due to loss, separation or estrangement, find the nearest dad you know whether it be a friend, neighbor, or other close relative and encourage them today. If you really can’t think of any examples in your life, word to J.Cole give a shout out to Uncle Phil (RIP, he really was a dope father figure). Let them know that they are seen, loved and appreciated and explain how/why. Shower them with support and uplift their spirits. These are the things that money can’t buy.
To my Black Dads: You are seen, you are loved and you are appreciated. Despite all odds, you will overcome. You are equipped with all the skills and tools to care and provide for your loved ones. You are strong. You are wise. You will win. Happy Father’s Day!
Yours in Authenticity,