Filed Under:  Columns, Opinion

The Hard Truth – Making Father’s Day matter

18th June 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Min. J. Kojo Livingston
Contributing Columnist

I don’t like mimicking European holidays. I’ve said many times that Father’s Day is my least favorite of the special days. To me Father’s Day never seems to have as genuine a feel as Mother’s Day. I really believe we need to find another way to recognize the millions of responsible Black fathers that are ignored by a hostile media.

In that last phrase could lay the redemption of Father’s Day for Black people. If we must have the day, what if we made it actually useful? What if Black Father’s Day became a practical part of our culture? I propose that we as a people use Father’s Day What if we did something to help our brothers understand and value and the responsibilities of being a real father?

To a very large degree, Black parenting today is “stank” (to use a technical term). If you think we don’t have a large percentage of parents that suck, just have a 30 minute conversation with a public school teacher…or heck, a private school teacher. People are turning children loose on schools, the streets and society lacking the most basic academic and social skills and then getting mad when someone tries to correct them. Thousands of parents actually brag about pimping their children to get a “nutty check” from Social Security. They are encouraging them to act stupid to get money they did not earn. They don’t care about the child being labeled and limited for the rest of his/her life.

What on earth have we come to?

To me, Black folks have little to celebrate with Mother’s Day or Father’s Day because we are not actively holding each other accountable for doing the damn job right. In today’s environment it’s tough enough if you are trying to do all the right things. Our kids are still likely to succumb, if only temporarily to the constant barrage of media messages telling them how cute it is to be a thug, hoochie, an idiot or a clown.

Here’s the raw of it: To have a bunch of ignorant, uncivilized males, mating with a bunch of ignorant, uncivilized females only produces children that have little or no chance of becoming productive members of a society; this is not Nation-Building, it’s self-induced genocide.

We are in a tight spot.

I believe that the absence of responsible fathers creates an imbalance that adversely affects us all. Single mothers have a burden on them that no human was designed to bear. To adapt to this they have to change, emotionally and otherwise to fulfill their role and compensate for the absent male. It also usually means a parade of different males coming into their lives, which creates a level of instability in the home. The absence of the fatherhood energy affects the children also. And personally, I believe that being an irresponsible father is a curse in itself…or should be. Everybody suffers.

On the other hand, the presence of irresponsible or abusive father creates a downward spiral for male and female children alike. That leaves us with a minority of Black homes that have responsible, caring fathers.

It offends me that people are always surprised that all of my children have my last name. But for Father’s Day what do we see? Literal human studs, running around bragging about how many babies they have made by different mothers that they don’t see or support. We have even stooped so far as to using the language of livestock and slavery to refer to parents, “That’s my Baby Daddy” eliminating any reference to an actual relationship between to human parents outside of a single sex act. Not, my ex-wife, former lover, or ex-girlfriend, just my Baby Mama.

And despite the historic, ongoing and effective efforts of our enemies to reduce us to a nation of savages, it is OUR responsibility to change this picture. A society builds what it needs. Real men, real fathers don’t just pop out of the ground, the sky or the womb. They are built. They are trained. They are taught. They are made. Then they hold each other accountable for handling their manly business. We used to know this. In fact, we were the first people on earth to build strong, healthy men, women, families, communities, tribes, nations and empires.

So, let’s do it again. Let’s build a nation, starting with some real men that can become responsible mates, husbands and fathers for all those women and children who have been waiting on us to return.

I propose that on Father’s Day we have conferences, workshops, seminars and rallies in every major city to promote the value and the skill of responsible fathering. Let’s create a Black Fatherhood Pledge and get millions of men to sign it EV­E­RY YEAR and give copies to their families so they can be held accountable.

I propose that every church and community center use the preceding week to do seminars and counseling sessions. Then there is outreach. The community needs to push a campaign for responsible parenting and fathering in particular. Use the courts and other means to find deadbeat dads and find ways to reach them and help them become better men and fathers. Let’s hit the streets, bar rooms, highways and by-ways to reach our brothers.

I also suggest training for moms who want to raise responsible men. I see the same mistakes all the time in my own family and in my work. The biggest mistakes I see many (definitely not all) sisters make is allowing or encouraging their sons to be irresponsible. This happens when moms make excuses for the wrong a son does, no matter how obvious. It’s always the fault of something or somebody else, even when it escalated to crime or violence, which it usually does. Being overprotective is another habit that makes males weak and helpless.

But the mistake I find annoying is moms who try to protect sons from work or effort. Many a man has had to cope with maternal interference when trying to teach his sons deal with hardship, difficulty and pain. This is not stuff you are supposed to learn at 19 or 25 years of age. Every Black male needs to learn these skills early on to be prepared for life in this system.

So what happens when this training is absent? You get guys that can’t fix a plate for themselves, much less prepare a meal. You get guys who lay around or sit around all day, doing nothing and blaming “the white man” for their laziness. You get guys who have an excuse for every occasion and a master’s level skill at shifting the blame for whatever they do wrong. And this person is supposed to go out and provide for a family?

Finally, let’s reach the children; teach them what responsible fathering looks like. Let them know what they have a right to expect and what they must give if they ever assume that role.

Next year, in a practical way, let’s declare that Black Fathers are Back!!!!

Now, Whatcha Gonna DO?

This article was originally published in the June 18, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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