Black Dads: The Unsung Heroes

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,

-London


Drop The Prayer Sis!

Between cuffing seasons, hot girl/boy summers, situationships, friends with benefits, the ex-factor, and friend zones, dating as a millennial should be considered a competitive sport.

Song Inspiration: I Want To Thank You x Alicia Myers
Me looking through my Twitter thread for the specific prayer that produces amazing relationships

A few weeks ago, I was doing my usual scrolling on Twitter when I came across one of my favorite internet couples on my timeline. It happened to be an entire thread about how they first met, leading all the way up until they got engaged and then married. To add to the mix they have the most adorable child with another one on the way. I looked at the entire thread in awe, completely elated for this little family I don’t even know. Among the overflow of “Congratulations!” and “so happy for y’all!” comments in the thread, I saw some other common phrases in many forms: “Sis, what was the specific prayer?!,” or “Drop the prayer sis,” and a bunch of “Lord, I’ve seen what you’ve done for others….” I giggled to myself a little as I searched the rest of the thread looking to see if home girl actually dropped the specific prayer *you know, just looking for a friend* And to my– I mean MY FRIEND’S disappointment, there was absolutely no prayer to be found.

DATING AS A MILLENNIAL BE LIKE

We live in a generation of not being in love and not being together. But we sure make it feel like we’re together because we’re scared to see each other with somebody else.

Doing it Wrong x Drake

I hate to admit it, but Drake said it best. Every time I think about what it’s like to date in this day and age, my mind goes directly to this lyric. There’s so much going on at one time. We often find ourselves caught in some type of relationship hokey pokey- you know the kinda-committed, kinda-not dance. Unfortunately, I know this two step a little too well. I am a lovey dovey kind of woman. I LOVE love. I am the kind of person that dates with the intention that it will blossom into something more, that could eventually blossom into something big, that might even blossom into something bigger like umm idk… marriage. My bad. I definitely didn’t mean to drop the “M” word on y’all like that. Even saying that word out loud makes me feel some type of way. Honestly, dating in this time makes me feel like that word is a figment of my imagination. I hear it all the time though. In fact today my mom casually and unapologetically dropped the “M” word and added in the grand-baby razzle dazzle today while we were driving. In my mind I was like “GIRL, if you only knew…” Instead I just laughed awkwardly and changed the subject.

I wanted to break it down to my mom like this: Relationships or lack thereof in this time period are confusing af. How you ask?! Let me count the ways…

Let’s start with Cuffing Season. Where did this even come from?! It’s that space between the fall and the spring (September-April/May-ish) where we find the urge to want to be cuddled up with someone. If you don’t have a solid foundation once the sundress season hits, be prepared to be kicked to the curb (sorry boo, it happens to the best of us). Next, we have the talking stage. It’s that beginning piece of any relationship that consists of you sliding into your soon-to-be boo’s DM’s whether that be via social media platform or an in-person scenario. You’re honestly just trying to get to know someone, feel them out to see if the vibe is real. In this time, it’s unclear if one is supposed to drop all the other people they may be talking to, or if they should continue to keep it casual and let the other person they’re talking to know that they are also entertaining other people. There are so many unspoken rules or there aren’t any rules at all. This is often where many relationships start and end. Some of us find ourselves in a constant loop of the talking stage with some potential for a good match, all to be let down, going back to square one.

But wait- there’s a thin line between the talking stage and actually dating which we like to call situationships. Situationships are usually undefined and uncommitted. They can be based on comfort or convenience and vary between short term & long-term. College hook-ups are a wonderful example. You may only be together when you’re in school & when summer break hits, you say your goodbyes, but keep in touch because you know welcome weekend comes around quick and you don’t want to miss a beat. There’s an even thinner line between the talking stage, actual dating and situationships which are known as… you guessed it- friends with benefits!! You find that you may actually vibe with the person, get along well, but don’t want to make the relationship commitment. I mean why would you need to change the flow of things by adding a relationship title?!?! Or, you may find yourself strictly in the friend zone which is where all these relationship concepts go to die.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this semi-new and exhilarating concept of living a hot girl/boy lifestyle not only in the summer but all year long *Thanks Meg*. In this phase of life, you have no attachments to anyone or anything. I like to call this the “I catch flights, not feelings” stage of life. You do what, and who you want– when, and however you want. I would like to think that this is a stage of confidence and taking control of your life, but it often turns out to be a crazy roller coaster of unstable actions and emotions. This stage is definitely not for the weak hearted. It’s a constant cat and mouse game of who can play who, or who can do the most without catching feelings and falling in love. It can be exhausting no doubt.

WAIT A MINUTE: How could I forget the ex-factor?!? You always have that one ex that’s trying to make things right for the 100000000000000th time. Depending on the season in your life you may or may not entertain their advances. Nine times out of ten, you end up entertaining your ex against your better judgement and end up regretting it. But hey, such is life… See you in a few months big head.

IF you can successfully move past ALL of these stages, you unlock a more serious dating situation. You may even call this a stage relationship. At this point, you probably have texted your starting five line-up saying that you think you may have found something worth giving up the late night “you up” texts for. Even though you still may be a little unsure, you take the risk anyway hoping that it works out for the best *I just realized that sounded real Will Smith from Hitch-like, but its the truth* You start to spend more time with this person which could lead to something more promising, but if it doesn’t you’re back at square one, hoping that you can at least get back three of your starting five line-up *depending on how long you’ve been in the dating stage this could prove to be a difficult feat, but possible.*

So mom, this whole “M” word thing is not as simple of a goal as you’d think.

RELATIONSHIP GOALS

Now, back to this prayer that nobody seems to be finding… I often find myself and other women making these kind of comments often. We see couples like Ciara & Russel, Will & Jada or my absolute fave Michelle & Barack, and can’t help but ask ourselves how in the hell do they manage to pull this relationship stuff off and make it look so effortless. There’s even a book about it (Thanks to Pastor Mike Todd of Transformation Church). Thankfully/hopefully we don’t have to look too far to find relationship goals in our real lives. It could be our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, other family and our friends. I love hearing stories about their relationships. It’s like they’re unlocking a secret code to this relationship stuff. I’ve gotten my fair share of relationship advice and the most obvious and real sentiment is that everyone’s relationship is unique and how they love each other works for them. Each love story is so special because it unravels how those individuals discovered each other and learned how to love. They’ve all had their fair share of ups and downs, but they found someone willing to weather those storms.

So, I asked my mom how she managed to find my amazing step-dad and without her knowing any context to my question her answer turned out to be a PRAYER!!!!! When I tell you I was so ready to hear about how she asked God for the perfect man and then would list all the qualities, her answer made me stop and think. She said: I asked my dad this same question a long time ago. I said dad, how do I find a good husband? He said that I needed to pray for myself. He said that instead of spending so much time praying for the perfect partner, pray that you yourself would be someone that you’d want to marry.

As confusing as that sounds I immediately thought of that 3 Stacks line in Green light “If I were you it would be me that I’d go home with.” I had a big reality check. A lot of times we pray prematurely or seek a partner with qualities we don’t even possess! How many times have you heard someone say, I want a boss who makes six figures and drives a BMW, but they themselves don’t even have a job? Or I want someone that knows how to cook/clean, but they themselves don’t know how. If you want your future partner to be good with finances, first pray that you learn to handle your finances well too (secure that savings account or make goals to improve your credit score). If you want your future boo to be compassionate and in-tune with your needs, first pray that you’re that kind of person in your daily life-showing love and compassion to those around you. If you want your future bae to love kids, pray first that you’re able to have the patience that comes with interacting with children because honestly, most of us don’t. If you want your future sugar booger to know how to cook and clean, pray that you’re also willing to learn new things and take a cooking class, or finally learn how to do your own laundry. The list goes on, and it looks different depending on your wants and needs.

The best part about this kind of prayer is that if all else fails, and you still can’t seem to snag a boo out of the deal, you were able to manifest a better version of yourself simply by investing in you first. That my friends, is what I would consider a prayer worth trying. So wherever you find yourself in this dating timeline, I encourage you to take a minute to stop and pray for yourself- that you become the best version of yourself for you, and that all your hearts desires will begin to surround you as you grow. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and where you stand in this millennial dating timeline or your thoughts on dating in general!

Yours in Authenticity,

London