Growing up in a single parent household, but having a father present in my life, I have seen a lot. My parents divorced when I was 3-years old. I was in and out of court up until the age of 8-years old. I watched my dad go through so much to be in my life because my mom made it difficult. I can remember so many struggles my dad went through but I was right there and so was he. He never wavered.
I never stopped to ask how he was doing or if he was ok until one day when we were outside playing ball and I got my ball stuck in a tree. My dad climbed the tree to get the ball. He successfully did so but he fell from the tree on his back and had to have surgery that still affected him years later. I remember being so terrified and running over to my dad to ask him if he was ok. That was the only time I ever asked if my dad was ok until I became a man because I could actually see that something was wrong with him. That story is more than an analogy. It shows the relationship that fathers have to their children despite any and everything that comes their way without any conscious concern for their own well-being.
Fast forward to today. I am now a father of 2 and have had my share of obstacles and issues but the only thing my kids see and care about is “daddy is here” or “my daddy will get it for me.” And you know what? That is all that matters to me. But we as men, as fathers, BLACK fathers need love also. The mental toll being a black man and a black father in today’s society is unexplainable.
Not to mention the anxiety and difficulty that is added if you are not in the same house as your child(ren). On the outside we stand tall and appear unbothered, but inside many fathers have been beaten down physically and are mentally exhausted. Many times some may want to give up. Many feel that there is no space to go to in order to unload, refresh, and recharge.
It is not about acknowledgement because a father is supposed to be PRESENT in every sense of the word. However, it is more so about the altruistic nature of humanity and/or the lack thereof. I love seeing the movements on social media supporting and uplifting black fathers in addition to shattering stereotypes. However, the most important aspects still get lost. We need to directly address the mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of black fathers.
Everyone knows mental health is vitally important to me, but our kids, our women, our community and culture is just as important. We cannot continue to be the constant presence we were meant and created to be without cultivation and support also. Black men. Black fathers. We need love too!
Every now and again ask a father you know how he is doing or if he is ok. If he says “I’m fine or I’m ok”, say “Are you sure? You don’t have to be superman right now. It’s just you and I. How are you really?”. It may be weird at first and he may not know how to respond, but once he knows it’s genuine, watch how his demeanor changes.
Life can be so complex and so simple at the same time. Humans are the same. Knowing someone cares, has your back, and actually SEES you for you and not what you are doing or not doing is the simplest yet most elusive feeling. It has become abstract. However, we must speak life into each other in order to speak life into our children. The future of our community and our culture starts with us, inside us.
As always Peace and Blessings!
Written by: Abe Lowe IV - Lawyer and Advocate