In Celebration of Black Fathers

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a black man lifting his son up in the airOur country is in the middle of an unprecedented uprising against systematic & institutionalized racism that has repeatedly suppressed the voices and humanity of people of color, especially Black men.

Now more than ever, it’s essential to lift up and highlight the excellence of Black men. Black men are incredible fathers, loving husbands, and faithful servants to their families and communities. I’m honored to share my perspective and experience with the world and hope that this time around, there are a few more people listening and learning.

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In honor of Father’s Day this month, I can’t help but think about the men in my family and how they help raise my son. Their dedication, love, and guidance are often overshadowed by negative stereotypes, racism, and negative characterization in our society. I feel compelled to shine a light on how much of an impact these Black men have on my own ambition to be a better person and, in turn, a loving mother and wife.

Black men do not get enough recognition for how they have to practically wear a suit of armor to survive against the discrimination and racism that they often witness and experience on a daily basis. After surviving each day, often on the defense, they come home to be teachers, lovers, and motivators to their children. I love being a first-hand witness to seeing how much my sons benefit from having these incredible men as part of our village as we do our best to raise them to be the best people they can be.

If anyone knows my husband, he leaves an impression on any room he enters. He is outgoing, gregarious, inquisitive, a natural performer, and a social connector (pretty much the opposite of me). He is often one of the only Black men in “the room”, professionally and socially, and manages this with a sense of ease. He goes out of his way to make others feel comfortable and is very aware of his presence in every situation.  His ability to connect with others is something that I’ve seen him model and encourage my sons to do – even at the tender ages of 2 and 5. There can be a lot of unspoken burden in feeling like he has to prove himself against stereotypes, but I never hear him complain about it. It warms my heart to see my son mimic his warmth and social graces while learning how to enjoy the company of other kids and adults.

I don’t know that I’d be able to teach my son these characteristics that come so naturally to my husband.  He is the most boastful, proud, and doting father that I know. He has an amazing model of a father himself, and I know that he takes pride in being able to continue that tradition in our family. I’m so lucky to have him.

Growing up, I never remember my Dad coming home from work and complaining about anything. I now understand how racist the corporate world was in the 80s & 90s and what he dealt with. Nevertheless, my Dad always was ready to help with homework, attend a sporting event or concert, and check in to make sure that we were maintaining an excellent academic standing. This is the way he showed his love. He never told us directly that we would inevitably face unfair limits in the world as people of color, but ruthlessly encouraged us to be successful by working better, faster, and smarter.

I thank my Dad for always expecting excellence – even when I’m sure he didn’t see that his own achievement and success were being acknowledged in the way that they should have been. So much of the resilience and ambition in me comes from my Dad. That ambition drives me to be a better wife and parent despite any challenges or limitations that are set in front of me.

I want all of the Black fathers out there to know that I see and love the way they take care of their children. I want to encourage them to continue to brag about their children, post cute pictures, and defy the stereotypes that are often assumed about them. I’m confident that my sons will be wonderful people and amazing fathers because they’ve had Black men in their lives that have modeled how to do it. I hope that we will all take a moment to note the unique and sometimes difficult walk that Black men take on as fathers. May we acknowledge them, learn from them, and lift them up.

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