“Father, help your children. Don’t let them fall by the side of the road…”
These words sound familiar? They should. People who consider themselves to be “old school” music lovers should remember the opening lyrics to “Jesus Is Love” by The Commodores. To be specific, it’s a plea to God to help us down here on earth, because we seem to be losing our way. But if you think strongly on that, long and hard, you’ll find it directly applicable to our children. Especially those in the Black family. So yes, my brothers, this message is for you.
ROLL CALL! Black Father, where are you? In the classroom of humanity you’ve gone silent and worse, have going missing. Absent from class…
In Africa, our continent of origin, being a father has been a most honored role in the family and community since the dawn of time. But it’s preceded by being a man. A MAN. In many countries, in many villages, male youths of a pre-determined age were taken to a hidden location, during which time they underwent “Manhood” training for a period of days or weeks. In multiple customs, if they failed training, they were forbidden to marry, have children and in some cases, no longer allowed to live in their home village. Cast out, for all time.
Such men who successfully completed their training went on to become hunters, warriors, sages, kings…
…most important, fathers.
Somehow, some way, particularly within the last half-century – the desire, the GOAL to be a father and a good man, well, it “fell by the side of the road”.
Before my father died, I used to call him for advice from time to time. Most often regarding situations, for which I was not prepared. I was a father, but I needed him, my father. Because no matter how much I’d learned and experienced, there was still so much more to know. I needed to know because my children needed me to be the best leader I could possibly be. Thus, I consulted with the best leader I ever knew. That was what I felt would help me become the best leader. The best role model. The best guide. The village hunter, warrior, sage and king. The best father.
Black Men, your family needs you. Your wife and/or children’s mother needs someone to teach your male children HOW TO BE A MAN! God bless these women. They’re doing their best and HAVE to, when you’re not present. But only YOU can properly teach your sons to be men. Only YOU can set an example as a man that your daughter can use as a benchmark.
And are you concerned about what’s out there, waiting for her in the world? You should be. If so, remember this:
My father once told me “It’s the goal of many men to sleep with as many women as he can in life… …but his wife had better be a virgin”.
No he didn’t believe in that or live by that, and he certainly wasn’t encouraging me to adopt that concept as my own. He was educating me, enlightening me about the perspective of many males.
I hope that illogical mathematical concept awakens you as well. Take a moment to re-read that phrase and let it sneak in. I’ll wait…
*listens to music*
“Teach them to love one another and Heaven might find a place in their hearts…”
Black Man, I’ll say it again. Your family needs you. They need your presence. Your ACTIVE presence. What? You don’t get it? Simple. They don’t need you lying around the house, allowing mom to do the things you know damn well YOU should be doing. Your inherent responsibility. You were born to be a warrior. Get out of the bar, get off the PlayStation. Get off the corner.
Get into their minds, in a guiding way.
“Cause his love and is wisdom will be our helping hand…”
They don’t need you to be fearsome. They need you to be respectable.
They don’t need you to be a smart-ass. They need your wisdom.
They don’t need to see how well you fight. They need to see how well you protect.
They don’t need to hear how loudly you shout. They need to hear and feel the depth of your words.
They don’t need you out at night. They need you tucking them IN at night.
I can do this all day…
There is much I can say but in the end, it’s nothing you haven’t already heard before. I don’t think you need a reminder, you just need drive. You need to know that the respect you receive is the product of the role you have played.
They emulate what they see. They aspire to be who they see as a success.
Cause if they don’t see you for what you should be, your daughter will never truly appreciate what she should look for in a man, despite what her mother teaches her. And your son will never know what type of man he should be…
I’ve met many men who have bragged about having children here, there, everywhere and quite frankly, I look upon them with disgust.
Black Man, don’t tell me where they are. Be WITH them. And if, for some reason, you can’t be physically IN their lives, be a PART of it.
Am I singling you out? Am I implying that only black men are absent? Of course not. It’s in ALL communities. But I am talking to YOU, Black Man, because your presence, or the lack thereof, greatly affects the Black Child of today and the Black Man/Woman of tomorrow.
ROLL CALL! Black Father. Black Father? Hello…?
Anyway, back to the song…
…and please remember: though you don’t hear it, your family misses you, loves you and desperately needs you…
“I want to walk with you, and talk with you,
And do all the things you want me to do…”