This year, Father’s Day will be celebrated on Sunday, June 21. This day is set aside to honor fatherhood, paternal bonds, as well as the influence of fathers in society. It was first celebrated by Sonora Smart Dodd, the daughter of American Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart. She wanted it celebrated on her father’s birthday, June 5, but the Spokane Ministerial Alliance that she consulted decided that it would be celebrated the third Sunday in June. The first Father’s Day was celebrated June 19, 1910, in Spokane, Washington.
So, looking back, Father’s Day was founded by a daughter who honored and revered her father, who had raised her and her five male siblings alone after her mother passed away in childbirth when Sonora was only 16 years old. She was motivated to do this after noting the observance of Mother’s Day, and felt that fathers deserved to be honored as well.
Sonora Dodd Smart was right! Fathers should be celebrated. Unfortunately, because of the unique circumstance surrounding the attacks on Black families in the United States, Black fathers are not always taken seriously. In an environment wherein all manner of forces have lined up in opposition to Black males, the deck has been stacked against intact families with onsite fathers.
Many people don’t seem to understand the value of fathers in a family, and this includes some fathers. Time after time, fathers sire children and leave the mothers to raise them alone. Sometimes it’s due to the fact that there was no emotional bond between a man and woman who became intimate and produced unplanned children.
The shortage of Black males due to incarceration, violence and other situations also contributes to the dearth of Black males who would be able to adequately fulfill the role of fathers. This is unfortunate. Recently, the spotlight has been placed on the number of Black men killed by law enforcement, further decreasing the Black male population.
Economic violence also plays a part in the Black family equation. Black men have been notoriously targeted by the dominant society, and the consequence of this is that they have been denied jobs, education, housing, and more because of a perception that they are either a threat or not worthy of inclusion in American society. There is no doubt that they have been held back from full participation even though some have been able to rise above these impediments.
One of the long-term consequences of this oppression is that Black men have ended up turning on themselves as evidenced by gang activities and the ubiquitous gangsta’ rap which tirelessly encourages Black men to destroy each other. This psychic cannibalism is rampant in the Black community and is destroying the Black family. The dysfunction is evident everywhere. This malevolent trend that portends the destruction of the Black family has become painfully obvious as evidenced in the addition of a new cultural meme in Black families – the term “baby mamas” as opposed to wife, lover, and companion.
This is a sad state of affairs on a number of levels. For one, both boys and girls are schooled in societal and family behavior based on how fathers and mothers interact. If a man demonstrates love toward a woman who has given birth to his children, it goes a long way in modeling the proper behavior that can enhance family health.
Now, it must be said that in spite of the numerous obstacles placed in the path of Black families that contribute to family dissolution and dysfunction, there are a huge number of Black men who do take fatherhood seriously and who often do not receive the credit they deserve in making sure that their families are nurtured. These men know that the value of a father’s influence on the health and wellbeing of the family fortifies the foundational structure of the community.
This lesson is becoming more evident daily, and hopefully the time will come when it will be universally understood by everyone in the Black community.
In the meantime, the Crusader sends out big kudos, hugs and love to those fathers who take fatherhood seriously and who are doing their part to help create better communities. HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! A Luta Continua.