By Richard A. Rowe
Each year, the third Sunday of June is set aside to pay tribute to the many fathers that are devoted to their families and that have embraced fatherhood as an honorable and sacred role unlike any other. Unfortunately, in a number of Black households, this Father’s Day will be and feel different. A considerable number of Black men/fathers will not be present (physically, or psychologically) in their homes due to an uptick in police killings, unexpected deaths due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and from the emotional impact of race-based trauma that can result in social withdrawal, chronic stress and depressive symptoms. So, I would like to suggest that those of us who are fathers – especially Black fathers- honor and celebrate healthy Black fathering by doing the following:
1. Call, email or text at least 5 other Black men who are fathers every month and praise / encourage them to continue to do what they are gifted to do, which is to be present, to provide for and to protect all of their family members. Given all of the negative stereotyping depicting Black fathers as abusive, absent and malevolent, being a caring and committed father is one of the most difficult tasks facing Black fathers today.
2. Suggest to our family members and friends who would like to buy Father’s Day gifts – to first and foremost – lift-up, honor and celebrate the intrinsic value of Black fatherhood via home-based rituals to include the reciting of special poems, the sharing of father-centered affirmations and setting aside a few moments for family healing and meditations.
3. Reach out and back to the families headed by single Black mothers and offer our assistance and support whenever possible. Young boys can never be what they never see, and we must give our young girls positive and healthy images of manhood/fatherhood.
4. Do something beyond Father’s Day to restore hope, happiness and health to the Black community. For example, extend special greetings to the children on your block; clean up the space around your home/apartment and the space next door; and donate your time, talents and treasures to those institutions in the community that support, celebrate and honor Black fathers, Black love, Black women and Black family life.
5. Finally, ENCOURAGE all the Black father within your network to prioritize their mental, physical emotional well-being by scheduling and following-up with annual health care check-ups, developing daily / weekly self/soul care regimens and to participate in collective healing-focused and love-centered circles for Black men/fathers.
Let’s continue to support healthy Black fathering and to never forget that fatherhood is a sacred role that must be cherished and taken very seriously.
Richard A. Rowe
Husband, father and author of “Wanted Black Fathers:
Only Serious Black Men Need Apply!
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