Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I Was Gonna Chill

Father's Day has come and gone, and I really didn't plan on saying anything about the day.

Not because I have a bad relationship with my pops, nope me and the old fella are fine. It's not because I think fathers are fairly unimportant, I actually think they are equally important as women, if not slightly more important.

Nope, I wasn't going to say anything because I figured there wasn't much to be said. Sunday was a day to celebrate fathers, it seems like a fairly simple issue.

Only, things are rarely simple these days, no matter what it seems like on the surface.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that many people didn't see Sunday as just a time to appreciate their fathers, but also a time to castigate those men who are failing at their fatherly duties. I don't mean the folks who wrote heartfelt blogs about how the Dad's absence hurt them, I understand those folks. I mean the scores of people who decided to promote backhanded compliments at best to the fathers "who give a damn" through Facebook and other social media sites.

It was almost as if people felt they would have been doing a disservice to the world to write "Happy Father's Day," and instead felt compelled to let the world know their pleasantries only applied to certain fathers, not everybody with working sperm.

I found that strange.

I'm not the only one. Several other folks on the Internets found it weird that well-wishes for fathers came with caveats. I don't think there were the same sort of messages sent out to the ladies on Mother's Day, but if I'm wrong, somebody please correct me in the comments. And look, I understand that the absence of fathers, particularly black fathers, is a touchy and sensitive subject for folks which often creates hard feelings. But, the bottom line is that there are 364 days to lament all the men doing a bad job at being fathers, why would folks decide to do that on Father's Day?

Is it just me, or is that a little off?

I think it speaks to the strange relationship we as Americans, particularly black Americans, have with fathers. We acknowledge their importance, we understand they fulfill a need, but honestly, we don't really appreciate them as much as we do mothers, no matter what we say. And I'll admit that I'm guilty of the same attitude when it comes to my dad.

Things have only gotten worse as it's become easier and easier to blast dads due to the rapidly rising out-of-wedlock birth rate among black women, and the subsequent absence of the men who helped cause those births.

I haven't swallowed the meme that most black men don't care for the mothers of their children or even their children, but I do realize that many people today find marriage optional when it comes to raising babies. In fact, I wrote about it here.

The thing is, while I readily admit that many men are failing at the job of being fathers, isn't it obvious that many women are doing the same? If you consider the fact that being a good mother begins with selecting the man that you allow to impregnate you, the failure is quite massive. Combine that with the women who may be present in body, but absent in love, affection and dedication, and the problem becomes even worse.

Women are being asked to raise children alone and that's a very, VERY difficult job, but as the late John Wooden was found of saying "Never mistake activity for achievement". Bottom line, women have it rough, but quite a few of them are simply failing.

Yet, those failures don't require us to link caveats to our praises on Mother's Day. Instead, we focus on the positives, and we celebrate motherhood in all of its aspects. We don't take a day set aside for appreciation and use it as a time to denigrate. If we can do that for mommies, why can't we do it for daddies?

Daddies need love too.



Origin said...

Great write up brotha. I totally agree on many of your points. I think one of the reasons of bashing fathers and black men in general isn't just because of the out of wedlock births and all the other pathologies. But because its big business and guarantees website hits. If I talked about how many black men have stepped in and raised children who weren't biologically theirs as their own (something I have done myself). I wouldn't get a hit on a blog........but if I discussed black dead beat dads I would get a ton of hits.

I have never seen any black mag or blogger or Oprah or Tyra discuss the countless black fathers who raise and take care of children as their own who weren't biologically theirs. But I have seen countless shows and articles about black men who have children out of wedlock and who are dead beat dads.

The thing is we can all name a dead beat dad, we all know some.........but at the same time we all know a man or men who are raising kids who aren't theirs.

Yes I know as black folks we wouldn't be here as a people if it wasn't for sistas. Moms, grandmothers aunts and cousins. But to not acknowledge the countless uncles, cousins, grandfathers, stepdads who stepped in when the father wasn't around is just pure evil and hateful.

Its really sad Bigman....its just another form of self-hate. It reminds me when I was reading some comments on your site one day and you mentioned how you see countless black men everyday taking care of their kids. Well some commentator actually said who cares thats what they are suppose to do, they don't deserve a pat on the back. I just thought that was silly to say that. They should be acknowledged like any mother would for being a good parent. I am like dang even the black males doing positive stuff get hate thrown their way.

I started to take a break from reading a lot of these black blogs because often times these blogs are just a cesspool of self-hate (thankfully not yours brotha). I will never forget one website I use to be on which was a site about empowering black women. Many articles on this site would turn into some sort of anti black man movement. Often times the commentators would say stuff that you couldn't even imagine about black males. Young, teenagers, babies, adults, elderly....it didn't matter. Yet the owner of the blog wouldn't even challenge the commentators about their ignorance.

Now you and I have crossed each others path on many blogs Bigman and we have crossed some fools who have said some disparaging comments about black women and men. And they have at the very least been challenged by the owners of these blogs. Some times even getting banned for their self-hating ignorance.

But this blog was straight ignorant.....even sista blackgirlinmaine commented how ignorant the statements were. And how she took offense to the comments because when someone talks about black men like that they are referring to her dad, uncles and cousins in a derogatory manner. After all that all the fools on the website could say was so I could care less.

Imhotep said...

Big Man, thanks for standing up for the brothas, and by extensions the fathers. No one wants to get pissed on, on their day, but seems like Black fathers are an easy target. Whether it's a pastor trying to score some points with members of his female congregation or the President a couple years back seeking the affection of white people, Black men are constantly being tossed under the bus on father's day of all days.

Few in our society are under appreciated as Black fathers /men are, in spite of all that we move forward and raise our families.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

There's a huge number of young adults who are livid or devastated over having an absent or trifling father, and the Internet provides them with a platform to vent.

And why on that day, of all days?

My best guess is serves as a lightening rod and form of anniversary grief, perhaps the way many Native Americans think of the 4th of July.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

BTW, I LOVE the new look of your blog.

Anna Renee said...

I have to agree with you Brother black lunatic! It's sooooo easy to harp on the negative. We black folks tend to point that figurative gun at each other and name "pathologies" then pull the trigger. "Well you're a dead beat dad" bang! "you aint got no job" boom! "your kids are thugs" "your momma's a ho" "your sister shake her ass" And on and on ad infinitum nauseaum! It becomes totally ridiculous. It's like we're eating off each other like starving hounds!
Thanks for your post to bring some balance to the black father issue! If the glass is half empty, then that must mean it's half full--and if it's half full then we got sumpthin to work with!! Visit me at the Black Culture Blog. Peace

Big Man said...

Anna Renee

I liked the visual of the pathology gun. That was cool.

Everyone else

I want to say that I'm not the only one who made a point of noting that Father's Day wasn't really the right time to air out grievances against black men. Several other bloggers did the same, and I hope it caused some folks to think.

While I readily acknowledge that many of my brothers have fallen short, I also recognize that many of them have not. It's just like some convo's I've had recently about black men dating non-black women. Yes, there are quite a few brothers who do this, but the VAST majority of black men date black women. But, that reality is drowned out by the pain and hatred folks feel for the few. It's really not kosher.

blackgirlinmaine said...

Amen! Excellent post. I have often wondered about how women will so easily bash men particulary Black men about being absent fathers but take no ownership for the fact they laid down with that fool.

I know many may judge me after all I am a sista in Maine and yes my partner is white. Funny thing is I was with a brotha for a long time, I loved his dirty draws but at a certain point I could see he was not what I needed or wanted in a man. It would have been real easy to have had a baby with him and hoped it worked out. I suspect it would not and I might have been just another bitter sister.

My point in sharing this story is too many times women know what they are working with in a man yet ignore the signs. A good man is going to do right by his kids no matter how much he and the Mama don't get along. My ex husband was and is that type of man, on a personal level we don't click but it would have been easy for him to walk away, he never did.

There is no reason to use father's day as a day to bash men. Black men been taking care of their kids, in the 1950's it was my Grandma who walked away leaving my Grandpa to raise my Mom. He rose to the task at a time when a single Daddy was rare.

Again if we want to bemoan the state of Black parenthood, lets be honest and say it takes two to tango.

T.A.N. Man said...

Good stuff.

I think it's not only our issues as Black folk that are tied to the Father's Day bashing, but also the general underappreciation of dads on a global scale (I think you touched on this). For mothers day, we go to brunches, buy elaborate bouquets, spa treatments, etc. For fathers day, we buy cards, ties, and other thoughtless BS. I'm even guilty of it. I gave my pops a phone call, and my mom a spa package just this year.

It's easy to overlook the stuff a good dad does, because a lot of it is behind the scenes and uneventful--going to work on the daily, paying the bills on time, fixing stuff that's broken, and figuring out a way to prevent and put out the random fires that pop up in life. In most cases it's not until you're a dad or a single mom that you can really appreciate how much diligence, discipline and sacrifice goes into all of that.

Good moms on the other hand are very visible--they're usually contributing things with which the kids connect on a daily basis. Moms traditionally cook meals, doctor on sick kids, soothe broken hearts, lend a listening ear when trouble times hit, plan celebrations, take the kids shopping (even it may be with money provided by dad), etc. With that kind a traditional dichotomy, it's easy to underappreciate the contribution dad is making. So when mom slips up and doesn't perform, folks are more willing to cut her some slack and over look.

I agree there is a tenor of daddy/sperm donor hate running through our community, but I also think dad's tend to have a boring existence in the family structure, and it puts them at a disadvantage when and wherever they may fall short. And this makes it easier to track mud all over their day.

Origin said...

Well said T.A.N.Man......well said.

blackgirlinmaine said...

T.A.N.Man, you are absolutely right. Mothers work is more visible for the reasons you said. Its funny or not but it took my Mom getting sick and dying to actually see that visible side with my own father. Why? It had always been her "role" yet my Pops when he was called to rook over that role of nurturing and physically taking care of my Mom as well as holding our family together.

Yet for over 30 yrs I only saw him as the dude who went to work, paid the bills, etc.

Raving Black Lunatic