Revisioning the Black Father

 

DF183141-AC56-458F-8C1B-0875E5590EB4I grew up without a father, however, I am blessed to have mother that raised me. My mother’s love for me runs  deep. As I mentioned in my earlier post,  “You’re Pretty, For A Dark Skinned Girl”it was my mother’s dedication and reminder of my uniqueness  that carried me through challenging times.

I was taken aback when while studying abroad in Bath, England. One male student insisted that one cannot be a well-rounded individual without the consistent presence of a father or father figure in one’s life.

Well rounded? I vehemently disagreed with him. I was a walking example that his argument was false. I was a 19 year old first semester junior studying abroad in an elite study abroad program. How much more well rounded could one get?  I quietly dismissed his assumptions, as he was a white American born male whom grew up in a two parent household and happily drank his days away after attending morning classes. What could he possibly know about my experience as a Jamaican born black female whom was raised primarily by a mother whom worked multiple jobs to maintain shelter and food for her five children?

I dismissed his assertive argument as someone whom knows nothing about my life and his  blanketed statement couldn’t possibly hold true for ALL children whom grew up without fully knowing one’s father. My semester abroad went well and I happily returned to Hampton in the spring to complete my junior year.

And then senior year began.

My conversation with my study abroad counterpart came back to me as I happened to find myself at a seminar with my fellow Hamptonians, all whom happened to be young female students. They were lower class-man and upper class-man all sitting among each other and all crying. That is correct reader, you did not read that word incorrectly. They were all crying quietly, brushing away tears and dabbing at eyes carefully as to not smear carefully applied mascara. I at the time was still unaware of the joy of mascara and rubbed at my now swollen eyes over over again. The room was weeping. We were mourning. No, it did not have to do with bad grades or even the departure of a beloved professor.

Oh no reader, the tears were for the absence of our fathers.

We had found ourselves at a discussion with  an alumni. He talked about how many young girls grew up without their fathers or at least a consistent father figure. We were the best and brightest of the bunch and yet here we were in a seminar crying and fighting back tears. Sniffling and passing around boxes of Kleenex as one girl shared her story about not knowing her father. As we all listened-some sitting on our hands, or hands folded across our chest it was clear that this alumni visitor had hit a  collective nerve.

Her story was our story and our story was her story. The sadness filled the room and was suffocating us all as we heard slightly different versions of our own truth from a fellow Hamptonian’s lips.

Was he right? Did my white, male counterpart have a point in his argument? Are you unable to be a well balanced individual when you lack a consistent father figure in your life? Share your thoughts with me. This question sparked my up and coming series about the image of black fathers and the need to have a re-imaging of how they are viewed. The reality is I know a lot of wonderful black fathers. The world needs to know their story. Until next time, go forth in love.

 

4 thoughts on “Revisioning the Black Father

  1. I cannot say because I grew up in a home with both mother and father. I can only look from the outside and I believe that a person can indeed be well-rounded depending on their environment. ‘It takes a village to raise a child’.

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  2. In my opinion, we are definitely affected by not growing up with our fathers and we need strong gently-authoritative men who love us and care about our well-being to stand in the gap. The symptoms of this lacking affects male and female children alike but I believe my sexual promiscuity early in life was due to my missing father and my desire to be loved (“daddy issues”?). As women, our father is the first man we love and shows example of how we should be treated by the subsequent men we encounter in relationship. I recently discovered that my father’s errant love contributes to a constant feeling of rejection I have, leading to an inability to release people who show me they don’t want me. I continue to pursue them to find out why, or prove my worth – something I could never do with my father. I know I am worthy and continue to work on myself though so keep me in your prayers.

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    1. Very insightful self reflections. I went through a period in college where I was seeking the attention of older men -definitely connected that to not knowing my father. Thank you for sharing. Blessings.

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