I am from the generation of the “Fatherless”.
The generation that was told that most of the woes of our people could be attributed to the absence of the fathers in our homes and communities. That those fathers chose to abandon us in one way or another, whether it was leaving our mothers or landing in prison or both. Either way, they weren’t there in those pivotal moments to frame our futures. We digested this rhetoric from the media, the school administrations, the preachers, our own communities, and it became part of our being. Often times, we persevere and succeed “in spite” of our generational circumstance. My social media timelines are FULL of black men rewriting the narrative of our existence.
We. Are. Doing. This.
I was once on a “Fatherless Black Men” panel for Georgia University being interviewed by doctoral students trying to get a first-hand account of our lives. It was then that I realized how much more optimistically I view my situation than most others. The most memorable question was:
“Do you feel like your father not being there negatively impacted your life?”
After the other panelists gave answers that you would expect, I told them something that they had never considered before.
There was no impact. My Mother and her work ethic never impressed upon me the idea that something was “missing”. My friends on the block didn’t have fathers in the home either, so it was a state of normalcy. As a child, I was not aware that I needed to make an adult observation of my situation and was blessed to have a mother that didn’t feel the need to constantly remind me of our status. I was fine. Further, the absence of a male figure in my home gave me the opportunity to avoid a lot of the toxic masculinity that is inadvertently inherited. I was able to shape my own idea of what a “Man” was supposed to be and choose role models in the community from whom I could pick and choose characteristics to emulate.
Photo Cred: Amira Maxwell
My grandfather that taught me to be unwavering and stoic, to anchor a family through life.
It was my uncle that gave me the joy of Life.
My pastor taught me humility while wielding a vast knowledge and love for people.
My coaches taught me dedication and sacrifice and instilled my Warrior spirit.
“Big Brothers” that failed, learned, and progressed, all while maintaining a “cool” only WE can command.
The Village provided my fathers, just as Joseph was given the task of guiding Jesus through adolescence.
Since I’ve started my family, I gravitate to young black couples who look a little lost on the baby aisle. I let them know there is a community supporting them and ease their fear of being inadequate, as society has constantly implied. I encourage all of you to do the same! A common theme on social media is how difficult parenthood can be, and how we struggle in similar ways. You never know how an uplifting word could completely change the outlook of a fellow father.
To all my current and future fathers, welcome to the Father Hood!
From black Man to black Man, I want to congratulate you on creating precious life with the mother of your children. You have, successfully, achieved time travel by thrusting yourself into the future via your genetics, just like our ancestors are a part of you, living and breathing and achieving what was not possible in their eras.
I want you to feel the weight of your responsibility.
I want you to know that you are not strong enough, but you will be, and you will feel love swell in your heart when your child sees you lift the world for them.
If you do not have children, you are not exempt from the call of Fatherhood. The children are watching, and your influence is everything.
God may call on you to father a young woman’s child that is not your own, and they may grow to save the world!
The Father Hood is strong, and I will be here, writing to you all from my heart. Because I have been there, I am going there, and the success of your family directly impacts mine! We will be accountable in our walk and educate one another so that the next generation isn’t trying to build the same old house from the same old tools with the same old methods.
I see you.
We. Are. Doing. This!