Before I address the crux of what this post is about, I need to clarify something first—I am an absolute fan of Black Men; from their physique, to their strength, to their charisma, to the way they move, love, and laugh—all these things keep me in constant awe of them, plus, growing up I had many examples from which I could draw.
For example, my two eldest uncles would step in as father figures when my own father wasn’t there. Even during times when they weren’t doing particularly well themselves, they constantly looked out for me and treated me with love. Then there was my brother—even though he was much younger than me, he was still both my friend and ally, a kinder person you’d be hard-pressed to meet. In addition to them, there was one of my first cousins, who also happened to be a male; we were so close people often mistook us for a couple–our connection, however, was purely from the heart!
I gave that disclaimer so those who read this address to the black man will know that it comes with no underlying ill feelings or negative intent; but rather, from a place of honest inquiry and love. Originally, I planned to entitle this post, “Where is Your Mama?”, in response to a troubling occurrence I have been experiencing lately. Almost everyday since the weather has been warm, there are at least 7 bonus children constantly at my home– ready and eager to play outside with my children, literally, all day! My children have chores— they wait; My children come in for a meal— they beg and they wait; My children can’t come outside— they try to wait! Honestly, dealing with them is often exhausting, still, I can’t help but feel compassion for these kids.
Even so, that compassion has been given with an equal amount of judgment for the mothers of these children. Not one has ever tried to come and meet me, or even find out where exactly their children spend such a large portion of their time. Since I would never let my children play anywhere without knowing, or at the very least, introducing myself to the parents, I admit, I felt annoyed that these mothers were so lax.
But then I had to check myself: Without even thinking twice, I was putting all the ownership on these mothers without once even considering their Dads. I began considering how often we do that in our community– put the sole burden of responsibility for the rearing of the children on the women, without once asking, “where are their dads?”
These men are missing, at least as a constant presence in the home, which is why I believe their mothers are so apt to let the kids roam the way they do—honestly, it’s likely one of the only ways they get a break. There are so many wonderful black men in this country who are sadly just clueless as to how they are failing their kids. I see it though—when these kids come around hungry, with poor social skills and behavior problems, and when they are out all day so they won’t have to be in the house alone. A strong father in the house could remedy those things, sadly, too many homes have none!
My epiphany has definitely caused me to shift my thinking, but you might wonder, does that mean I’ll now have even more compassion for these quasi-latchkey kids? —Possibly. You might also be curious whether I’ll now refrain from making judgments related to the parenting skills of said kids’ moms?—I’ll be honest and say probably not. What I will do, however, is include in my assessments the whereabouts of their dear ol’ dads—we must absolutely hold them accountable too!