FATHER’S DAY IN FATHERLESS COMMUNITIES

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Father’s Day 2017 will be celebrated on Sunday, June 18. It will be the 45th year of its recognition as a national holiday by the United States. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day, and it became permanent six years later when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.

The great importance of fatherhood can be seen by the current state of affairs in African American communities across the nation. In some communities violence is at an all-time high. In addition, there are a lot of other community ills that beg to be addressed. Interestingly, as problems deepen, people blame elected officials or self-proclaimed community leaders or churches for these problems. The truth, however, is that we must own whatever issues are within our sphere of experience. They must be tackled where they are. Of course, there are those who will say that as taxpayers we deserve to be served and protected. Definitely, but that is not the whole story. We must save ourselves.

A major ingredient of ailing Black communities that needs enhancement is that of fatherhood. There are a lot of fathers who do accept their responsibilities by providing emotional and financial support to their families. But there are too many more who do not. Some pundits say that more than 70% of African American children are being raised in single-parent households with that single parent usually being the mother. Incredibly, these single mothers are the ones who are blamed for raising boys without fathers, and they face the criticism that “a woman can’t teach a boy how to be a man.” This attitude is merely passing the proverbial buck by placing all of the blame for dysfunctional families squarely on the shoulders of women.

The relationship between all opposites has a common pattern. Basically, the dominant, or traditional “male” role is that of control, with the “feminine,” or receptive position being subjected to the direction set by the dominant element. When looking at American society, for example, white people are seen as the dominant (male) element, and Black people are seen as being in the receptive, or “feminine” position. Looking at things from this perspective, if white people are to blame for the condition of Black people, then in the Black community, the lack of functional Black men, i.e., the dominant male element in families, is greatly to blame for community dysfunction.

As we progress, however, this old way of looking at things is beginning to wane as women are changing the way that femininity is viewed because they are being forced to fill slots abandoned by resident fathers. But this, too, is only part of the issue. In the interaction of opposites the preferred outcome is that of balance and cooperation. There is no doubt that a community that has the firm participation of resident fathers is the preferred position. In other words, fathers are essential to the health of families and, by extension, communities.

Black men, therefore, have more power and influence than they realize. There is no substitute for them. And the excuse that a disproportionate number of men are incarcerated is not a valid reason for abandoning families. If more African American males would embrace the value of education so that they can get jobs, or more importantly, create jobs for themselves and their communities that are not outside of legal bounds, things would be better. With this said, HAPPY FATHERS DAY to all of the deserving fathers who have accepted their responsibilities, and hopefully a lot more will follow their lead. A luta continua.

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