June 18, 2011
Although Father’s Day is supposed to be a day when families get together to honor the men who helped bring them into the world, in Black America it has come to symbolize one of the most hateful days of the calendar year. This is mainly because African-American households have a higher rate of being led by a single woman than every other demographic in the country which causes an enormous amount of resentment towards black men—even from other black men. So on Father’s Day some people tend to be a little bitter.
People say all kinds of derogatory things towards absentee fathers on Facebook, in pulpits, and on the radio. As a matter of fact in 2008 then presidential hopeful Barrack Obama got in on the act as well; “We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. Too many fathers are MIA….They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.” Now of course all of this is true, but is it really appropriate to say it on Father’s Day?
Father’s Day 2011 is nearly upon us and it would be amazing if all of Black America could take the time to celebrate a black man who is handling his business instead of taking every opportunity to publicly deride those who are not. For I too once resented my father until I had a child of my own. It is only then that I fully understood everything that he endured to try to stay in our lives. And it is only then that I understood how easy it is for a father’s love to be forever misconstrued and unappreciated.
This year all I want for Father’s Day is positive energy. Let us not only recognize those strong men who are raising their children righteously but let us also make an attempt to understand why so many other men feel the need to remove themselves from the situation.
I know it sounds radical now but in a different era artists actually did this. Here is one of my favorite poems of all time written by the great African-American poet Robert Hayden. It tells the story of a young boy who does not realize the daily sacrifices made by his father until he has grown into a man. It is called Those Winter Sundays.
|Those Winter Sundays|
|by Robert Hayden|
|Sundays too my father got up early and put hisclothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?
Happy Father’s Day to each and every father.