Father’s Day has been celebrated in the United States since June 19, 1910. It is fitting and proper that a day be set aside to honor the contributions of fathers to families. Today, many people have not always paid attention to the importance of fatherhood, but all you have to do is look at the impact of the absence of fathers in families to adopt a different viewpoint, and we need look no further than the Black community’s problems in America.
It has been said that more than 60% of African American children are raised in families without fathers present. There are a number of factors that have contributed to this situation. Years ago, due to families receiving what was termed as “welfare,” fathers were discouraged from living with their children. Finding a father in the home could result in a termination of welfare benefits. This was a catch 22, because Jim Crow and institutional racism made it difficult for African American men to adequately care for their families financially. This has left a scar on the Black family that still has repercussions today.
The Black family today is in jeopardy. Though it is popular to point to the large numbers of Black fathers taking care of their offspring, it is also true that an even larger number are not in the homes of children they have sired. Some of this may be the result of a loosening of moral fabric and a rise in children born out of wedlock. It is also being said that marriage is falling out of favor with a number of younger African Americans. It is becoming rare for many young mothers (and fathers) to consider marrying, and the outcome has been an amalgamation of names in families. Therefore, when parents visit schools to address issues related to their children, it is rare for the mother to have the same last name as her child. Moreover, it is common for siblings to have a variety of last names, which results in a confusing set of relationships. A person may have sisters and brothers in a number of extended families in the same school! Another consequence of the missing links between fathers, mothers and their offspring can be seen in an overburdened foster care system. A large number of youth are being raised without the security and love that an intact family can provide. Because of this, there are a number of painful mental challenges that have resulted. Chief among these are an ever-increasing need for anger management counseling and higher incidents of bi-polar disorder. These issues have direct repercussions in a school setting, including a growing need for special education services. A lot of people decry the burgeoning incidence of these services, but they are misguided – these services are greatly needed in order to address the challenges that have resulted from the fragmenting of nuclear families in Black communities.
This family fragmentation might also be the culprit in the misogyny and disrespect for women that is so rampant in gangster rap. It would be extremely difficult to find another race of people on the planet today that denigrate their women so openly as found in this genre of music. It is thought that this situation was probably influenced by the fact that a lot of single mothers are disgruntled and frustrated raising their children without the assistance of fathers, and consequently pass this anger on to their offspring.
Looking at these problems, it becomes apparent that the absence of fathers has deleterious consequences that are not adequately appreciated. Families without fathers are time bombs, and no doubt the rising rates of Black male incarceration has this as a situational factor.
Fathers, therefore, are EXTREMELY important to the success of the Black family and, by extension, the Black community. As long as splintered families increase exponentially, the community’s problems will continue to increase exponentially. Good fathers, therefore, should be celebrated all year long and not just on one holiday. A luta continua.