Let's talk about our daddy issues. Come on, we all have at least one. Better still, let’s talk about fatherhood, because after this weekend and if the media has its way, the man who helped bring you into this world will no doubt fall back into the shadows once more.
During my childhood and that of many young, black males of my generation, the relatable faces we saw as we lay spread-eagled in front of the television were the likes of Will Smith (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), Desmond’s (Barbershop) and Bill Cosby (The Cosby Show).
From a young age I grew up without a father. He was unlawfully murdered when I was only a few months old. Male role models in our household were, unfortunately, thin on the ground. My mother had a limited support network due to migrating from Trinidad to England in 1969, so she turned to keeping us active through extra curricular activities such as school social groups, Scouts and football summer camps.
As Father's Day approaches, I am stepping out from the 'status quo' in that we not only celebrate fathers but we evolve a little and celebrate all male role models, godfathers, uncles and men who actively provide guidance, support and teach these young leaders of the future.
Father’s day is never rightly appreciated as much as Mother's Day by the media, retailers and society in general. Any plaudits appear to be isolated and low-key token gestures of gratitude as the media continues to focus on the negative stereotypes of black fathers, using damaging anecdotes such as 'they are invisible within the family unit' and at best 'glorified babysitters.’ So, to advance the revolution to create a new black stereotype and show men as motivated fathers who deserve to be recognised, I am sharing a collection of photographs captured during time spent with three active fathers.
I'm not disregarding the issues we as a black community are dealing with around young adults growing up without fathers/role models in the home. Nor am I ignoring the problems developed from young men leaving education early to engage in crime from an early age, which compounds this issue further.
If people are only exposed to only stereotypes of black fathers, this is all they will believe and continue to perpetuate, creating a model which will keep this everlasting loop of solecism.
Stereotypes are, as Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie aptly describes them...
These men are all motivated black fathers and role models in their own right. However, they seem, in part, to be invisible to the media. As you look around during the days preceding Father’s Day, just look and see how many advertisements, news articles and blogs show pictures or share the perspective of a black father.
"If people are only exposed to so-called stereotypes of black fathers, this is all they will believe and continue to perpetuate"
These men have fully embraced their responsibilities as a parent and work daily to maintain and develop their relationships with their children. They assign a level of importance to nurture, be present and dispel damaging stereotypes by being a man their child can proudly call Daddy.
All images available on Instagram www.instagram.com/nbsldn/ Photos: Kiran Cox (@kiranbcox) & Jessica Hope (@jess_hope_shoots). This is the newest collection of photos from The New Black Stereotype London (NBSLDN), a movement inspired by The New Stereotype.
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Dad, thank you for making me ignorant. Thank you for depriving me of that first-hand knowledge. I never learned what it would feel like to have a father who voluntarily spent more time making me than raising me. Even though you were also singed by racism that affects people to varying degrees and can sometimes literally burn people alive, I know that I am fortunate that the “heat of oppression” never evaporated your sense of your own flesh and blood.
Instead, you gave me fishing on sunny days, an interest in sports, and help with science fair projects about friction and plants. And when I got straight As, you gave me handshakes. After all, that was what you expected.
Growing up in the majority-black public school system of Prince George’s County, Maryland, I never had a full-time black male teacher in an academic subject in elementary, middle, or high school, but I had you, a PhD in biochemistry who embraced three other letters even more closely: 'Dad.' I know that I was lucky to have a father who was actually put on a school-to-lab pipeline rather than the school-to-prison pipeline which can be so viscerally heart-wrenching as to separate even loving fathers from their own DNA.
Thanks to you, I can't fully imagine what it’s like to be one of the many black children who are starving for concrete evidence that people who look like them can excel in school or praying for personal counterweights to the idea that academic success is bleach, i.e., the better you do in school, the whiter you become. Before I had ever heard of stereotype threat, I subconsciously learned from your example that I could do well in school because of — not despite — my blackness.
Thank you for putting up with me as well.
I remember when you were helping me with a science fair project in elementary school and you wanted me to pose for a picture, which would eventually be placed on my science fair project backboard. I think I was getting antsy, so I said, “This isn’t a fashion show.” You had to raise your voice at me, but I posed for the picture and I learned my lesson. Or at least I thought I did.
It's not until I really think about it now as I write this essay that I recognize how foolish I was to complain about your fatherly photography when far too many dads act as if their kids are Medusa’s strange clones; as if one look at their children would turn them to stone, stop them dead in their tracks and force them to reflect on the true meaning of their manhood. There I was, grumbling about taking a science fair picture under your guidance when many kids never actually get a chance to see eye-to-eye with their fathers at all.
Several children might even feel that their fathers are experimenting on them to see what happens when you plant a seed, give it plenty of time to water itself with the tears of loneliness, and, with clinical precision, deprive it of the beaming pride of a father. Granted, with a superhuman mother, grandparent, and/or community’s touch, some resilient seeds are able to thrive like roses that grow from concrete. However, the absentee scientists in these trials often fail to realize that just as one needs to take care of a plant in order to benefit from the essential oxygen that it produces, fathers must nurture their children if they really want to be within breathing distance of vital respect from outside and within.
Unlike other men, you didn't run away from your planted nation like a slave wearing track shoes. You did not view me as something that would restrict your freedom. To the contrary, you treated me as a crucial part of life. And for that, I thank you today and always.
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The child support conversation (if one can call it that) frequently rears it's ugly head on Twitter. Sometimes it's as a result of a celebrity case, such as Future vs Ciara, Wiz vs Amber or some other high profile situation that we are all pretty far removed from. (Also ignoring the cost of living as a celeb, nannies and private schools...but #sleep.)
The crux of the argument is that moms/mothers/baby mamas don't deserve to be given child support for multitude of reasons. As a person charged with raising a human being - I feel like I have some insight to educate people once and for all.
Child Support shouldn't even go to the mother it should go to an account that nobody can touch except the child when they turn 18
— 3kFilms (@toys3k) June 8, 2016
Before I begin, let me preemptively say this: Yes, there are bad moms out there. But they are no more the representation for all single moms than deadbeat dads represent all fathers.
So let's break it down.
I'm going to skip pregnancy costs for a reason. People are very excited to give you things while you're pregnant, usually tiny adorable clothes that they grow out of within a couple of weeks. High ticket items such as a stroller, car seat and crib can cost hundreds of dollars at minimum. It's funny to me how people want mothers to bargain and spend less on tiny humans than they do on Yeezy’s they don't need. But I digress.
Baby is here! Yay! Hopefully, you've stocked up on diapers (they go through about 10 per day), wipes, and if you aren't able to or don't want to breastfeed, formula. The cost of formula is about $35-45 per tin, which lasts about three or four days. So actual math tells us that formula alone can run you about $245 per month.
Sure, you can go for a Walmart brand of diapers over Pampers, but if they leak through those (like my kid with Huggies) you make up costs in laundry. Which, if you don't have it in-house, has now also tripled (You have your regular load, your spit up load and your kiddos load). Oh, and don’t forget that you shouldn’t use regular detergent on newborn clothes.
If you breastfeed, the baby eats what you do. So you love spice? Forget it. Made a batch of chili in the slow-cooker? Good luck with that. You wanna eat healthy like you were forced to do during pregnancy? Anyone that grocery shops knows the price of real, healthy foods. But who has time to cook while you're a sleep-deprived mom of a newborn? Often your takeout budget will also skyrocket.
The infancy stage is the end of the honeymoon period. You might still have grandma to thank for some adorable clothes, but unless you have a great village around you, you're trying to figure out which clothes your kid grows out of quickly and which ones fall apart after one wash. Your child will start eating real food too. Great, right? Most infants are still breastfed and some still on formula when they start solids. Whether those purees are made or bought in jars, your food costs go up again. And remember, they're still in diapers at this stage (sweet-potato-colored poop anyone?) at around five per day.
Oh, and if you're in America you've returned to work by now. So welcome to the awesome world of daycare fees. Parents are charged more for younger kids because they require more care. The average cost of daycare is around $900/month (depending on your location). If your rent is also $900, you've spent $1,800 and not fed or diapered a soul.
Children can now have the occasional happy meal. They can walk, run (safety gates!) and talk. They get into things. They need toys and books to learn and grow (Yes, toys help them to learn). You might decide to put them in activities. They decide to have growth spurts (my 3-year-old is in 5T pants...). You gotta get them ready for school. They no longer fly for free. Up until last year, they weren't free on the public transit here either.
School-age until official adulthood
Clothes. School supplies. Field trips. Occasional treats. Birthday gifts for all their newfound friends. Birthday parties. Extra-curricular activities. Food. Growth spurts. Puberty (pads/tampons). Laundry. Groceries. Dentist. Glasses. Medical emergency. Braces. Hair.
All these things are just the bare minimum of raising a well-rounded human being — a costly expense that is cute but costly. This is ON TOP of regular bills such as rent, car payments, hydro/gas/water, cell service, cable, internet, etc.
Sometimes, you get tired of looking and feeling ragged so you get your nails done because that $35 for manicure isn’t going to break the bank. (Despite the fact that you still feel guilty about it). Or you get your hair done so that you can actually look presentable and remain employed, not because you're attending a gala. Because your pay went toward that unexpected child cost, you use some child support or baby bonus money — sometimes the accounting just works out that way. The child might not have new clothes from Instagram because child support went toward keeping the lights on.
Let’s put it another way — watch any home renovation show. Homeowners get upset when money has to be put toward electrical costs, plumbing or fixing foundation, the stuff that is VITAL FOR COMFORT AND SAFETY but isn't seen and isn't sexy or cute. Insulation or a new kitchen? What use is that new kitchen if your house is freezing in the winter and your heating bills are through the roof?
If I didn’t have a child, I wouldn’t need a two-bedroom apartment. I wouldn’t have daycare and child-related fees. A car wouldn’t be a necessity. Life is a heckuva lot cheaper when you are childless. Let certain people on Twitter tell it, though, and women are just looking for a come-up and to use the pittance to make it rain on some hoes in the club.
In the end, I know this will mostly fall on deaf ears. People see what they want and believe as they need to. Usually it's to assuage their own guilt and help them sleep at night.
I'm a single mom that has gone to bed hungry and has cheated transit out of some coin just to get to work. I've gotten up at ungodly hours and worked them as well. I've lugged my son in the rain and taken taxis in the extreme cold. I've considered $900/month schooling when daycare options were limited. I've looked around my house to sell things for a quick injection of cash. I've cashed in my retirement plan when on stress leave from work. I've taken my son to work when there were no babysitting options. I've spent $130 just to go to the movies.
The quiet, hidden sacrifices made on a daily basis are part of the package of becoming a parent. So child support is a small (in most cases) piece in helping make the best possible decisions for the child. I’d argue to call it FAMILY support, because it’s going to support the family. If the parent isn’t doing well, the child can't flourish.
I don't expect applause, sympathy or pity as a single parent. But I don't accept the vitriol and blame either. As long as it takes two to create a child, the responsibility should fall on two to build them up.
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On a day just like any other, @SINice posted an innocent tweet about his confusion as to why a father would paint his daughter's toenails, when she has female relatives. He isn't a father, so it's almost understandable that he's confused, but misogyny was just written all over this. Do you think that Twitter cared about him not having children?
In proper clap-back fashion, Twitter blew up his mentions with anti-misogynistic parenting lessons.
Exhibit A: the tweet that got class started
I just don't understand this personally. Why would I do this for my daughter when her mama or aunties can? pic.twitter.com/ZmDqTpTSvw
— King Ratch-It Ralph (@SINice) April 5, 2016
Some questioned the logic behind his thinking
@SINice WHY?! WHHHYYY?! Do y'all niggas make post these like and then say it ain't about masculinity when it CLEARLY IS!!!
— Trans-Vaginal Mesh (@Booda911) April 5, 2016
@SINice If your 3 yo daughter walked up to you with a bottle of nail polish and said, "Daddy will you paint my nails?" you'll say no. Why?
— Mother Bae I (@tiersaj) April 5, 2016
@SINice @tiersaj if ur comfortable in your masculinity I don't see why u would care...
— Messy Danii (@theheauxinpink) April 5, 2016
Others opened his eyes to the reality that not all daughters have mothers
@SINice what if hes a single father? wouldnt you want him to make his daughter feel like a girl? he has to take on the mom role if she aint
— ƙ ɛ ɱ ɱ ı ı ❣ (@Kem_NOT_Kim) April 5, 2016
@SINice maybe if you're the only one in her life? Or she asks for you personally 😂
— dariana (@deeeezus) April 5, 2016
The patient ones gave examples of how real parents parent
@SINice It means something to her. Why not bond with her in the way she prefers? I dgaf about legos, but I still play with my son.
— Mother Bae I (@tiersaj) April 5, 2016
@SINice if my son asks me to walk him to the men's bathroom, guess where I'm going ?
— She's Something Else (@missmeraki) April 5, 2016
(with a mini-lesson on how to be a good husband as well)
@SINice my husband is literally painting our daughter's toes right now and just painted mine 😁 pic.twitter.com/1fYaKX9pvk
— haleigh (@mamahailz) April 6, 2016
Not before getting to the real reason why this is necessary
Cuz you the 1st man ya daughter will ever love.. Set the tone for how she should be forever treated https://t.co/yVYLgT5K36
— Kev (@DonOf_NikeTown) April 5, 2016
Because what's the point of being a father, if you're not here for father-daughter duties?
@SINice Because she wants you too?
— Mother Bae I (@tiersaj) April 5, 2016
He'll probably never question fatherhood on Twitter again.
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Author's note: I'm not sure how far this will reach or how many of you reading this will follow it through to the end. It is a piece that requires a deep sense of sensitivity and attention I feel many of us lack. We are stirred by something only to forget about it as soon as it leaves our attention. I'm hoping to spark something in you that moves you to action, whatever that may be.
Has anyone else noticed a spike in fathers taking their children’s mothers to court for custody of their kids? Men are doing this and they are winning. From what I can tell, some are experiencing victories not necessarily because they deserve to win more than they have the resources to sway things in their favor. Some of the more recent cases include Dwyane Wade and Siohvaughn Funches, Usher and Tameka Raymond, Chris Bridges (Ludacris) and Tamika Fuller, Pilar and Deion Sanders, and Norma Mitchell and Tyrese Gibson.
Before I go further I want to acknowledge that every instance is different. I don't know any of these people I’m speaking on, therefore, I’m dealing with a small amount of information I’ve gathered from articles, videos and essays discovered on the Internet. Please do not take my account of them as gospel.
With that being said, these women and I appear to have a lot in common, as I, too, am battling for my children against their father in a court of law.
What do these men have in common? They are celebrities/entertainment personalities. They’ve all taken their children’s mothers to court and won custody of their children or attempted to do so while attacking the women’s credibility as a mother and accusing them of mental instability.
My children’s father is also attempting to take my children from me.
We aren’t celebrities, though he does have a reasonable following as a hip-hop personality. He’s not rich but he definitely has more money than me and is using his money to bully me in court.
How is this even allowed to happen? I mean, there are really phenomenal fathers out there who love their children deeply. There are some fathers who make better nurturers than some mothers. There are some children who are probably better off with their fathers for various reasons. My argument is not that fathers don't have the capacity to love and care for children. My argument is that these fathers are being allowed to take their anger and frustration out on the mothers with the help of the legal system.
Some of the women have spoken out about being bullied by their men with money and celebrity. They have made accusations of abuse. Some have gone broke trying to fight bitter men in a system that seeks to gain from the misfortune of the people it has been entrusted to serve and protect. It’s a sick game.
I find it all highly disturbing for many reasons:
The children are used like pawns in a chess game by the men and the courts.
Men are using the system to bully and attack the mothers in an effort to gain power and control over her and the children.
Their actions in some cases aren’t of true love for the children and desire for harmony within the family but only to destroy her and make sure he doesn't have to support her financially.
The lawyers, especially on the side of the fathers, are only interested in how much money they can earn as a result of representing the fathers. There is no real concern for the children.
The children are TRAUMATIZED in the end!
The ironic thing is that this is what many women have been doing to men for years, using the system as an act of revenge to attack the father of their children. But it’s been mostly achieved against men who are poor or gullible because, according to author and researcher Phyllis Chesler, as stated in Tamika Fuller’s essay, “For more than 5,000 years, men (fathers) were legally entitled to sole custody of their children. Women (mothers) were obliged to bear, to rear, and economically support children. Mothers were never legally entitled to custody of their own children.” In other words, the men losing the battles against bitter "baby mamas" have been lazy, miseducated, or not really interested in being a father anyway.
There are definitely cases where women have taken men to court because they refuse to assume responsibility for their children, and I am definitely not attempting to demonize theses instances. Sometimes, as I’ve learned the hard way, court is necessary and helpful. My concern is that the family court system is similar to other court systems in that they are dysfunctional and seek to serve the players in the system and not the families seeking help!
The courts appear to only be interested in the money they can make from the legal fees necessary to support the duel between the parents.
The system is a “one size fits all” system shuffling the children through a standard process of mediation and minimal evaluation that supposedly seeks to discover more information helpful in determining the court’s decision but, it’s not really that helpful. This has been my experience, anyway. My children have no true representation of their own.
I think it all speaks to the lack of integrity in the justice system. Not all lawyers are bad. Not all judges are wrong, but the system by its very nature is failing many of us.
Society is patriarchal and patriarchy is man’s attempt to usurp divine law by instructing nature instead of taking instruction from her. Patriarchy has socialized men to be so dangerously insecure that some believe their power comes from the dominance, possession and control of people and things.
Patriarchy has bred PEOPLE to be misogynistic — this is true for both men and women — and our misogyny runs deep.
It's interwoven within every part of our society, from religion to hip-hop. Our men have been taught women are disposable when we are no longer a benefit to them. We are disposable once we cannot be controlled by them. This is the behavior men display when attempting to separate their children from their mothers for no solid reason other than to bruise their egos and to break their hearts.
My ex is a musician, and a dedicated one. Understand, musical projects aren’t sensitive to 'normal' people hours. His job is not a 9-to-5, it’s a 'whenever inspiration calls' job. Although he's exercising his legal right to primary custody of our children, he keeps third parties in place to care for them. He travels all the time and keeps late studio hours. We were together just shy of 10 years. I was always the constant presence in our children’s lives when he was traveling and working. Because of his need to hurt me, our children, over the past year and a half, have been without either of us consistently. This enrages me to my core that he would rather this fate for them instead of putting forth effort to work with me. He knows what it’s like to be without a mother as his maternal mother died when he was 10. Why he would want a similar fate for his children is BEYOND me.
He has a hard time being logical and compassionate at the same time. Compassion would inform his heart of the truth that our children are probably best rooted with one of their parents while the other is away. At any rate, the court is supporting this while I lose time with our children and money to support them.
Like Tamika Fuller, Ludacris’ daughter’s mother, I am experiencing financial hardship as a result of fighting for the right to keep my children. I am an entrepreneur in the business of teaching and empowering women (go figure), but also a PhD student in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is not an inexpensive place to live. I am holding on by a string, paying lawyer fees and keeping my head above water with living expenses.
My ex is also badgering me about child support when he makes well over six figures. It’s baffling to me the lengths these men will go to prove a point to us women who have given our bodies, hearts, and souls to give birth to a part of them. Where is the dignity? Where is the compassion and respect for the womb? Do they feel so powerless in life they that they must use the power of the court to assert their egos? It's as if the power of the court is an extension of their own false power. Real men who love their babies would never attempt to separate their children from their mothers unless she is a REAL danger to them.
Meanwhile, these men will cry foul while they are also throwing abuse. It’s crazy disappointing to hear women crying about being abused or threatened by men they love and allowed themselves to be vulnerable with, men they faced death for while giving birth to their children, only to watch others go hard to turn those women into liars. Sometimes other women can be the most vicious, attacking women for speaking against their abusers. People can be quick to call a woman out for being a gold digger, accusing her of fabricating her victimhood for the pursuit of personal gain. We saw it all day with the Bill Cosby scandal.
Sometimes the suspicions are spot on, though. I innerstand the reasons for skepticism, as some women seek time and attention of wealthy men in hopes of getting knocked up and turning a child into a monthly allowance. These women have no real desire of cultivating themselves enough to attract a man who cannot deny their magnetism and therefore have no qualms with planting his seed in her, no qualms about supporting their family. I get it.
But there are those of us who know our worth and have cultivated ourselves enough to know we deserve wealthy, ambitious men with the power of leadership as our mates and fathers to our children. Why would any healthy woman want anything less for herself or bloodline?
When we tell you we’ve been abused, please believe us. Do not go out of your way to discredit us. Our men have been socialized to be abusive to us, so it’s more baffling to me that the burden lies on the woman to prove her accusations, no matter who she is, than it is on the man to prove his innocence.
I love what Norma Mitchell, Tyrese’s ex-wife, had to say about men and their abuse of power and money: “A lot of men with money and more power, especially with passive women, are using the legal system to abuse these women. Then they can point the finger and say, ‘Look at her, she’s crazy,’ because one day you just explode and can’t take it anymore.”
I can definitely empathize with her words. My ex is claiming to the court that I’m mentally unstable. Well, I say to his claim, “Show me a mother who has been stripped of her children and I’ll show you rage that will make you believe she’s insane.”
My ex might not have the capacity for compassion, so I'll do my best to hold enough for the both of us. I have compassion for him because I know his decisions are damn near not his own. He, like most men, is a slave to his emotions. He, like most men, has been taught to suppress his emotions lest he be soft and feminine. Our men are so emotionally suppressed, the only things they know to do when their hearts hurt or are in danger of being hurt is attack and annihilate the 'source' of the pain. When all hell breaks loose, their emotions manage them, and they come for you with one goal — dominate and conquer.
What have your experiences been? Share your story with me in the comments below.
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I hear black fathers are the new wave.
That they’ve changed. They’re home more, they do the hard things, they support mothers, they disappear less often. I applaud that. I applaud DeAngelo Williams for doing his daughter’s hair in a Pantene commercial. I applaud dads who don’t need a court to tell them to help feed the children they create. I applaud dads who show up to the carline at school with snacks and the alphabet song playing and questions on their tongues about schoolyard adventures. I congratulate every little black girl I know who holds the hand of a man who will always represent unconditional love to her.
But I’m not here for those black girls. I’m here for the black girls like me. The ones who questioned their own worth and searched for it in the eyes and minds of boys and in mirrors. Who patched up holes with copper wire and cotton. Who accepted things she shouldn’t have because they came easy and felt warm. Because when you feel you don’t much matter to your father, when he is lost to you, you tend to search for him. You look for him in corners and in between sofa cushions. You pick apart dialogue and record inflections, trying to reassemble him in places he doesn’t belong. You might take on too much at times, struggling to complete an equation that doesn’t add up because it’s missing numbers. If you have ever felt this way, if you still feel this way, let me inform you of our truth.
The thing about lost fathers
We will never find him. Fathers cannot be replaced. No boyfriend, no husband, no lover, no child can fill the gap of a father figure. No amount of chin-upping, no dose of endurance will fill your cup. The trick is to accept that. The trick is to allow yourself to be less-than.
For a moment.
There’s a hole in your heart. It might be small, perhaps gaping. Holes are funny things. We can walk around them or fall into them. You’ll probably fall in for a while. You might rage against the unfairness but try to convince the world you don’t have open wounds. Then rage will bubble out of you at unworthy moments. If you choose a lover who feeds you, who does his best, who compliments you — part of you won’t believe him. Or perhaps you’ll expect too much of him and refuse to accept that he’s just a human person with flaws and damage who will hurt you from time to time. But you might not see that. You might only see your father. You might only feel your hole.
Or you can accept it. You can try to understand that things we don’t have now, we never had. You haven’t lost anything at all. Your heart is simply shaped differently. Some people have no arms, some people have short hair, some people can’t roll their tongues or eat peanut butter without dying. You are fatherless.
The hype is a lie
Know this too. No one’s love can heal you. No gesture or reassurance or kiss to the collarbone can provide you with what you feel you missed out on. You don’t have to spend time waiting for this to come because it won’t. And if you ever find something that looks like it, know that it is actually codependency. You do have to, however, love yourself harder. Love yourself enough to see good intentions everywhere because that’s what you deserve to see. Love yourself enough to feel confidence and certitude, even when it’s blurry or quiet, because that’s what you deserve to feel.
And lastly: Don’t believe this bullsh*t that you’re not strong. Don't believe that fathers or mothers or that pet you never had are the things that would have made you a better person. You’re a dope person. You’re probably perfectly flawed and interesting and see the world in ways other people can’t.
Fathers are important. Parents are important. But they are just bits of our story. Being happy does not require that you be made up of fairy dust and unicorn hiccups. Being strong does not require that you have the same working parts as the girl sitting next to you. It just requires you to love yourself.
But you must indeed love yourself. All of yourself, holes included.
Ashley Simpo is a freelance writer and digital strategist living in Northern California. She is also the creator of Bare Frut Collective, a digital directory for creative Black women launching Spring 2016.
Between the World and Me showed me how a father is suppose to talk to his son and guide him through this crazy world we live in. Let me be open and honest. My father and mother split when I was 4 years old. My mother made a decision that she felt was best for my brother and I at the time. Alcoholism has had a tenacious grip on my family for years. My grandfather battled with it and, in turn, carried it on to my father. My devoted mother didn’t want my father’s actions to impact our future, so she decided to leave the relationship. My dad was there for us from time to time as we grew up but he wasn’t there all of the time. He wasn’t there the nights I needed advice on how to deal with my first heartbreak or the night I dealt with my first bout of racism up at Penn State.
Ta-Nehisi Coates does a tremendous job of blending his past experiences and relating them with today’s tragedies to teach his son how to maneuver in a world full of dreamers. Black men and women should take the time to read this book because of the essential life lessons that he provides. Here are three quotes that stood out to me.
“Very few Americans will directly proclaim that they are in favor of black people being left to the streets. But a very large number of Americans will do all they can to preserve the Dream.”
Very few white people will be in your corner when life punches you in the face. A very large number of them will do all they can to protect their families and their way of life. They will protect their white friends, their money and their homes.
“My work is to give you what I know of my own particular path while allowing you to walk your own.”
He has to give his son what he has experienced and what he has learned from it but ultimately he has to let him experience life and learn on his own to truly become the man he wants to be.
“The birth of a better world is not ultimately up to you, though I know, each day, there are grown men and women who tell you otherwise.”
Changing the world isn’t up to us — even though people will tell us it is. A simple police stop can change our lives in a matter of seconds, so we have to protect our bodies twice as much as our counterparts. We have to be on alert all the time in the city and in the suburbs while our counterparts live in their safe spaces. They have to change first before anything positive can truly happen.
Those three quotes struck a chord inside of me because my father never told me those things. This piece isn’t to take shots at him. I love him to death. Instead I want to highlight the incredible work that Ta-Nehisi Coates has produced. I hope to become at least half the man that he is. In this day and age, we need someone to help guide the minds of young black children. I think this book does a tremendous job of doing just...
In honor of Father's Day, listen to the words these young people have for their fathers. Each poet tells of the role of Black fathers in their lives, and together the five voices create a narrative that celebrates, challenges and pays homage to the multifaceted realities of their own experiences with fatherhood.
"Father's American Dream" by Porsha Olayiwola
“My Father is an Oyster” by Clint Smith
“Knock Knock” by Daniel Beaty
“The Drug Dealers Daughter” by Siaara Freeman
“60 Seconds” by Ebony Stewart
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