In the court of public opinion, the verdict is crystal clear. The jury doesn’t take long to render a decision. There isn’t a need for the twelve (12) to be sequestered; no threat of a mistrial or the jury being hung. From a room adjacent to the proceedings, the bailiff escorts the jurors back to their seats as the crowd anxiously awaits the outcome. The court reporter is patient, yet precisely accurate with the diction being used. The judge has returned from his chambers and grows weary of the litigation before him. On trial yet again is the “Black” male. His crime: accused of being a “deadbeat dad”, an “absentee father”, merely a sperm donor. After enduring the kidnappings from his native lands; surviving the rigors of the middle passage during the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade; being stripped of his name, culture and dignity – forced into a lifetime of servitude; scratching and clawing to be considered equal, once more he stands before his peers to defend his honor. The plaintiffs: The “Black” female, the mainstream media, movies, television and record executives; all of who has contributed to his demise. How did we get here? Can the “Black” male ever be exonerated and forgiven for his transgressions? It’s our job as men to correct these acts and ensure the story is told correctly; show that the evidence is unyielding on our behalf. Prove that the images and data being relayed to the public are the exception, not the rule. We’ll proceed as follows:
When people discuss fatherhood, they assume that African-American men aren’t part of the equation. The media presents figures that show an overwhelming number of men are absent from their children’s lives. For every James Evans from the television show “Good Times” you have Stevie J of “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta”; for every Cliff Huxtable of “Cosby Show” fame, you have Peter Gunz of “Love and Hip Hop New York”. The graphs and pie charts are nothing short of damning when reports, studies, statistics and other data are presented. The imagery contributes to the public’s perception that “we” would rather have a harem of women, father children by each of them, then return to a lifestyle of dysfunction, as opposed to taking care of our responsibilities and being a pillar in a family structure. The negative illustrations supersede the achievements of the men that play active roles in the children’s lives.
There isn’t a need to put “Desperately Seeking Daddy” with a picture of the alleged father on the side of a milk carton. No need for the unfair generalizations that proclaim Black fathers as being shiftless, selfish and the ones who abandon their children. We’re here for our children just as much as any other race. What about the fathers who have been driven away by angry mothers? Or the family law system which does little to defend fathers’ bond for their children? When making their arguments to demonized the Black male, is divorce ever considered? What about the breakups of unmarried couples? It’s bigger than what can be explained in a thirty minute exposé; it’s economic, sociological, psychological, cultural and political. These explanations should be regarded when having this discussion.
When seeing a father taking care of his children, it shouldn’t be considered an abnormality. Data published by the Center for Disease Control revealed that Black fathers spend more time in their children’s day-to-day lives than fathers from other racial groups. If a couple doesn’t get married, that shouldn’t be perceived as the man are absent or he doesn’t support his children financially. Just because he doesn’t marry the child’s mother doesn’t mean he loves his children any less. Commitment to the bearer of the child isn’t necessary to take care of your responsibilities. A father is their daughter’s first love, their son’s first hero. What isn’t shown is the encouragement given during the birthing process; the diapers being changed or late night feedings; tip-toeing in the dark to leave money as the Tooth Fairy or the glow of pride a father has from being present during their child’s milestone accomplishments. There won’t be much fanfare or advertisements honoring the father’s role in a child’s development. Social media posts will run rampant on this day with quotes such as “Happy Father’s Day to the real men who take care of their kids”; or, “Happy Father’s Day to all the single mothers playing the role of both mom and dad.” Both of these quotes are shots at the Black males’ supposed inability to care for their seeds. Even Hallmark, with their Mahogany Brand specifically designed for people of color, has capitalized on the situation. Starting back in 2011, they created designs celebrating Black mothers supposedly carrying the distinction with their “To Mom on Father’s Day” selection. And because of this, the Black male has been placed in a position to defend himself from the atrocities of the world’s view of him as it relates to fatherhood.
The bailiff addresses the courtroom by stating, “All Rise!” And with palms sweating and a nervousness that can be felt in the pit of his stomach, the defendant anxiously awaits the jury’s verdict to be read. “We the people of the United States and society at large, find the Black father guilty of the charges brought against you for being absent from your children’s lives. Until further evidence is shown to reverse and dismiss this verdict, the conviction will remain. You are hereby sentenced to a lifetime of ridicule and shame. The media will continue to have the ability to exploit this phenomenon and will depict you as being an unfit, unwilling caregiver to your children. We will drive a wedge between you and children’s mother, have you tied up in child support hearings, suspend your driver’s license for nonpayment or any arrears owed and have you disgruntled. You have the remainder of your lifetime to appeal this verdict and change society’s perception of you. I encourage you do so, but feel at this point, with the media at our beckoning, we can keep perpetuating this charade until the end of time!” The judge then strikes his gavel to conclude the proceedings. Being a father is no different than acquiring and maintaining a job. There will be pitfalls, unforeseen obstacles, trials and tribulations. However, the joy that comes from succeeding and raising your child to be a productive individual is an achievement sought after by all men who father children. Fathers I implore you, remain involved in your kids’ lives despite the circumstances. Be sure to nurture, love and groom them. Being a dad is most times a thankless job that often goes unappreciated; and that comes with the territory. More positive stories of Black fathers involvement can render any judge’s decision null and void, and in future hearings the court would have to deliver an outcome of Nolle Prosequi (Latin for unwilling to pursue; do not prosecute). Happy Father’s Day! “We Are The Change!” I’m gone! (b)
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