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Black Fathers: Time To Man Up
2/3/2016 6:04:17 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch 

This month begins the celebration of Black History Month. The problem with the one month celebration is less emphasis is placed on Black achievements year round.

Black History is not all about slavery, lynching and inventions. It is also about extraordinary people, courage, values and unparalleled work ethics.

Today, we are living in the present and the present will become history tomorrow. What is it that we want to leave behind? Do we want to leave behind a history of crime and violence or do we want to leave behind a legacy that influences the course of history?

I am sure if we were to conduct a poll today on violence by black youths at least 90% of those polled would say they are fed up with the violence.

Although, violence among young black males seems endless, there is no one solution to the senseless cycle permeating the black community. I still hold out hope that collectively we can turn the crime wave around in our communities through education and jobs paying more than minimum wages.

The question still remains, what is wrong with the black youth? What led to the breakdown in the black family? If we were to research Black history, Massa often kept the black males because they were worth more and sold the females and children to other plantations breaking up and destroying black families. The black male was strong both physically and mentally so he was kept to work the land.

Whenever and wherever possible the black male held his family together in spite of the odds against him to succeed. No doubt, the black males have certainly had their share of ups and downs. The sordid history of slavery that once reduced black manhood continues to impede black men today.

That’s not a cop out; it’s factual. Today, there is nothing separating black men legally from their families. It is time to put aside past atrocities and reconnect relationships.

Black fathers, you are head and not the tail of your family. Forget about that woman lib stuff. The black woman needs help raising your sons into men.

It is important that Black fathers have a relationship with their children. Black children have suffered because they took on the image of white America and lost their way.

We bought into that Barbie and Ken look. We bought blond hair babies for our children and when they became adults, they dyed their hair blonde. We wanted the house beside the lake on fast food salaries. We forgot who we were.

We saw the house on the hill, the big cars and we wanted it all. Those were unrealistic goals for the average black family. And the system made sure stumbling blocks were placed in the way. Banks wouldn’t loan you money so you borrowed from finance companies with ridiculously high interest rates.

You couldn’t get a mortgage on a home unless it was in a “redlined district”. Car dealers would only finance old clunker cars so you were stuck with numerous repairs and breakdowns. So, we started working two and three jobs in order to move into middle class America. The more we got the more we wanted. There would be no stopping us.

White America standards were measured by education and wealth. Black America’s standards were measured by religion and family.

Ironically, while Blacks were chasing the “good life”, purportedly so their children could have a better life, they lost their children to a bad life. Mothers went to work and fathers left home.

About the same time we were imitating White America, drugs and weapons crept into our communities. In the absence of parental guidance, Black children turned to x-rated television, video games, internet sites, chat rooms, texting, drugs and weapons.

It’s difficult to be involved in drugs and not be involved with weapons and sex at an early age. Violence begets violence and children became violent at an early age.

Black women serve as anchors of the black family. They kept their families together in the absence of the black male. Massa knew if he destroyed the black male, if he destroyed his manhood and his spirit, he would be able to keep him under control.

It takes strength to overcome a system that is bent on control. When a man is robbed of his manhood and his ability to protect his family, he views himself as a failure.

I can’t think of a better contribution to Black History than fathers restoring relationships with their families. Black fathers have always been very resourceful.

They taught their boys how to build and fix things. Many of the boys learned how to repair cars and that training came in handy when they got their first car.

What happened to grace at the dinner table and relevant discussions about work ethics, manners, school and church? At the onset of integration, our children were told you don’t have to say “yes maam” and “no maam” to white folk because we had had enough of saying “yes sa massa”, “no sir massa”. We taught them that it was enough to answer “yes” and “no”; now, those same children don’t understand the meaning of respect.

And, why have we stopped training our sons to be respectful to females? I am floored every time I see a young Black male pull a chair out for his date or take her coat or open a door. You just don’t see much of that anymore. Ladies, you get what you demand.

This is not intended to be a male bashing article but one of enlightenment to those fathers who have lost their way. Fathers, you have a responsibility to your children whether you are in or out of the home.

And, your failure to be there for your children is contributing to their low self-esteem, violence and low performance in school.

If I don’t get but one father to be a father, it was worth the time that it took to write this article.

Prodigal Sons, stop your madness, return home and “MAN-UP”!!


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