A Father’s Day Message For Black Men

We will celebrate “Father’s Day” on Sunday, June 17th. Have I got a great idea for this momentous occasion, or not?  

As an African-American male of 77 years, I am deeply concerned about the failure of some Black men to do the right thing and to deny responsibility for their actions.  Collectively, we are capable of “doing the right thing,” and we should be held accountable and responsible for doing as much. Our manhood and our personhood demand this much of us.

I understand that African-Americans, particularly its males, have needs and concerns that are distinctly different from the rest of American society.  Our struggle has always been a difficult (and unique) battle against the odds in the face of a storm not necessarily of our making.  However, regardless of how our conditions came about, we are our solutions for what ails us as a people.  If it is to be, it is up to us.

What bothers me greatly is that too many Black folks are “catching hell” in today’s society.  We have done a lot, but we haven’t done enough.  Even now, Black men continue to suffer disproportionately from violence and crime.  Further, Black men continue to be debilitated by substance abuse and poor health habits.  Because of this and other counterproductive behaviors, our rightful roles as parents, protectors and providers are negatively affected.

It has been said, “The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people.”  Recent government and other reliable statistics report that nearly 70 percent of all Black children are being raised without their biological fathers being in the home, married to their mothers.  Also, over 70% of all Black children are born out of wedlock.  This nonsense has to stop.  We have to make better choices.  And, we must remember that our choices, not our circumstances, will determine our destiny.

Therefore, we must create a special meaning and promote a new beginning for us.  Basically, it will require a grass roots approach for empowering our families and communities.  In its beginnings, this needs to be an in-house and self-help movement.  We need to have a more comprehensive understanding of the fates and forces that debilitate us.  While many of these obstacles are challenging and complex, they can be overcome.  We must learn to work harder and smarter to get the job done. We must be(come) “winners,” for failure is not an option when it comes to these matters.                                                                                           

Collectively, we have to show a willingness to know something, to be smart, to be curious, and to be willing to learn and accomplish a lot more.  While the world we inhabit may not be all fair or just, we must be willing to try … and try … and try.  We must learn to give life our all.  We must never quit on ourselves!  As the genesis of humanity, we owe it to ourselves to reach our rightful place in today’s world.  We owe it to our ancestors, we owe it to our present situation, and we owe it to our future.  This is the invaluable and everlasting “lesson to be learned.” 

To get things started, we could focus on such remedies as: (1) involving parents, especially “missing fathers;” (2) planting seeds of self-esteem and group empowerment early on; and (3) contributing our time, skills, knowledge, monies and leadership, allowing it to happen for “all of us.”  What a glorious reaction and memorable consequence that would be … for us and the nation.

As Black men, it would allow us to become the “lions and leaders” of our families and communities.  It would give us an opportunity to put words and promises into actions and deeds. In essence, I profoundly believe that Black men are brave enough, strong enough, tough enough, committed enough, and smart enough to get the job done. All we need to do is put our heads, hearts, minds, backs and souls into the tasks that lie before us.

In closing, this is our “test of character.” And character is what occurs when the spotlight has been turned off and there is no applause or recognition to be rendered.  Accordingly, we must ensure that the flame is lit, the torch is passed, and the fire burns brightly. For, in the end, this “test of character” will determine whether we are truly committed to our survival and success as a people and all that it engenders. We are capable! We can do this!

 John L. Horton is a frequent contributor to this newspaper.

By John L. Horton

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