21 Jun 2015

    Black Fatherhood: Ending The Cycle Of Pain

    Today we celebrate the existence and contributions of our fathers.  But with all the presents, special dinners and the usual “Happy Father’s Day” greeting in the morning maybe we should think a little deeper.

    Our thoughts should also be on the many sacrifices our grandfathers and great grand-fathers made and the accidental negative acts they put into motion that affected generations of people. On this “Father’s Day” and the many more to follow, the aim should be for our community to truly make them “happy” for generations to come.

    A clearly negative history that certain fathers have continued throughout generations is directly traced to slavery. In the Caribbean and the Americas, the role of the Black male was merely to produce more children and to work unmercifully for the plantation owner. A role which denied them the ability to emotionally connect with children, care for them, take enjoyment from their daily existence and eventually, just see them as just products of a forced sexual encounter. Eventually these men, through no fault of their own became emotionally disconnected from the act of sex, the children they created and felt no type of responsibility towards them. That was what happens then and the same thing is happening now.

    The legacy of the plantation will be seen today on social media with single mothers being told “Happy Father’s Day”. Such open congratulatory shout-outs are definitely a testament to the ability of those mothers. However, it is also an open indictment it is of the broken models of fatherhood existing in their lives. It’s sad really but predictable because the model itself within the Caribbean community is in dire need of repair. Too many men have equated being “happy” with the act of creating children and “unhappy” when it happens. Despite the university degrees, the titles of “pastor” or just plain common sense, the indoctrination of those Africans who were enslaved permeates generations. It’s scary to think of how deeply rooted it is and see the brain-washing visibly occur in front of your eyes, destroy families and psychologically damage untold amounts of children for generations further.

    Equating your manhood in 2015 with the number of children you have, sexual conquests and your unaccountability to them is the 19th-century version of an African being whipped unmercifully and told to get on top of his wife to “breed”. We’re not animals that “breed”, we’re men that create children. The children that we create and the generations to follow need models of fatherhood that will make them “happy”, not “unhappy”. Happiness is really found in embracing what that enslaved African was deprived of, a true connection to the children they create.

    A truly “Happy Father’s Day” is found in working every day to create a new model of fatherhood. A new model should be made where a father’s happiness is built around how his children view him as a father. One where a father’s presence is felt on a daily basis whether it be in person or in his temporary absence if he does not live with them. Father’s should not beat their chest on merely “putting food on the table”, that is what you are supposed to do.

    The deeper test of your manhood is what you are doing to prepare for their future. Are you involved in your child’s education? Are you investing in RESP’s or other ventures that will financially support your children? Are you emotionally and spiritually connected to them? When they say “I love you Dad!” is it a statement or a subtle question being put forward of “But, do you love me?” Most importantly, do you have a will and a life insurance policy? If you truly love your kids, your last memory should not be a whirlwind of unfinished business and a huge debt that sets them back decades. Your legacy should be that after all the tears have been shed that a generation of your family has been forcibly thrown forward economically, not backward. Imagine three generations of fathers with life insurance policies of a million dollars being left throughout their family line compared to three generations of absent fathers. It’s time to live the dream of the enslaved rather than continue the nightmare that an enslaved African was forced to create.

    So this Father’s day, I would throw out the challenge to all fathers to truly be “happy” for themselves, their children and their children’s children. You have the power to alter further generations of families in turmoil, emotionally distraught daughters and sons with distorted and damaging concepts of manhood.

    Many of you have told me privately that you have no concept of how to be a father, that your own father not being around haunts you to this very day as a grown man and that you privately/openly hate your mother because she refuses to tell you your father’s name. That is a lot of pain to deal with. How can you truly be “happy” on Father's day when your own father never made you happy? Honestly, some of the stories I have heard make me compelled to cry right now. In public, these men are proud, charismatic, intelligent and powerful. But behind the scenes, they cry, let loose emotional outbursts and a deep pain that reveals a child still longing for their father’s love and affection. It’s painful to see, hear and usually uncomfortable for me to hear because despite my father not being perfect, he was there and I felt connected to him.

    Despite the past, it’s time to “man-up” brother. When I mean “man-up”, it means to talk to your children about the impact both negatively and positively that your father has had on you. It means to enjoy your children and your time with them despite whatever family, financial or personal issues you might be going through. It means to plan for your own success while making sure that your children enjoy that rise to the top along with you. Most importantly, you really showed what it is to be a “man” if you put into motion a new model of fatherhood that would affect generations to come.

    Click here to read ByBlacks.com articles on HuffingtonPost Canada

    Read 2362 times Last modified on Thursday, 03 September 2020 22:14
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    Rob Small

    Rob Small is a Toronto based artist and community organizer.

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