An Absent Father's Day
Today I came across a post that read:
“This Father’s Day, please don’t rain on this parade. Celebrate the good father’s out there. Refrain from the complaining and credit taking this year. Ladies, let them have their day. They are not honored enough as it is. Save the dead-beat rants for another day so the good ones can be celebrated” (Instagram/Post).
It seems like we all can agree that Mother’s Day is a day of celebration! But Father’s Day is surrounded in controversy. Father’s Day in the Black community is either celebrated, spoken out against, or a forgotten day.
The days leading up to Mother’s Day, you would be hard-pressed to find the perfect card for your mom. The aisles of your local Rite Aid are running low on cards with a bunch of miss-matched envelopes. Floral bouquets are flying out of grocery stores and florist shops. Good luck getting a reservation at your favorite restaurant because every table is booked for brunch! Social media is flooded with posts about everyone's mom being the Best Mom Ever!
Fast forward to Father’s Day weekend. You can stop in your local store and find a little area in the card section and pick up a card. There will not be much of a variety but fully stocked because no is rushing to buy them. There may be an influx of #1 Dad mugs or wallets sold. You can eat anywhere you want; no reservation necessary. Social media is a hotbed of emotions. You will find a lot of posts like the quote above thanking mothers for being both mom and dad and enough baby mama, baby daddy drama to keep you scrolling all day!
So why the disparity? Do we only esteem our mothers? Is the missing Black father a myth or fact?
“Father’s Day: The State of Black Fathers” speaks to the statistical absence of black men in the black family. Fifty-eight percent of black children (nearly 5 million) are living in homes without their biological father. Seventy-two percent are born to single mothers.
I agree with the thought of reserving Father’s Day to honor fathers; however, I have to take a long dramatic pause at "they are not honored enough.” Is the issue that the black community, especially black women, are not honoring our men and fathers enough, or are there simply not enough fathers to be honored?
The struggles and pain of an absent father don’t relieve itself on Father’s Day; it might intensify dormant feelings. Historically, the black community and the black man has been the target and victim of a multitude of systematic oppression that has subsequently led to the dismantling of the black family. The war on drugs, mass incarceration, unemployment; all contributed to an assault on the Black community as a whole. The absence of the black man in the home has led to a sharp increase of single motherhood over generations. Therefore, can men be offended if moms get a shout out on both holidays?
I did not grow up with my biological father. I was fortunate to grow up with an amazing grandfather who loved and cherished me. My husband, even as a teenage father, was always involved and took care of our daughter remaining in his life. There are examples of Black men breaking the generational curse of absent fatherhood but, we need more.
For every Black woman raising her children alone, I know that her first choice is not to “bash” the father of her children; she would prefer to co-parent with him. To ask a woman to “refrain from complaining” is to ask a woman to be silent to her own experiences. There is no “credit taking” if there is no credit to take.
When you search the words dad and father in the dictionary, the two terms are synonymous, but there is a difference. A father is a biological term for a male reproducing. Being a dad speaks to having a relationship with your child. Any male can be a father; it takes a man to be a dad. We should pray for the restoration of the Black family for the rebuilding of homes and our community as a whole!
This Father’s Day (or maybe it should be renamed Dad’s Day) let us celebrate and honor our strong Black dads; we see you, we love you, and we need you!