Written by Salmoncain Smith-Shomade Collegiate Intern – Future Foundation, Inc
Who are fathers? Of course, people recognize fathers worldwide by many names in many languages. In the United States, we know them as Dad, Daddy, Pop, Grandad, Old Man, Stepfather, and by hundreds of other descriptors. But one common element unites these figures—their unconditional love for us, their family.
While there may be differences in the exact role, character, and type of love shown by those we call our fathers, Father’s Day wholly remains a worldwide celebration and day for people to cherish any number of individuals who have earned the title of father—those who have enough love and meaningful impact.
Fathers are important and pivotal. They teach, guide, and sometimes build character. They look out for us even when we don’t look out for ourselves. They can be the sole guardian we look up to or one of many family members who raises us. So, each Father’s Day is an opportunity for all to thank fathers around the globe for their service and sacrifice. The day is not for thanking all biological fathers but for thanking those who have earned the title from loved ones.
Celebrating fathers depends on the father. There isn’t a Macy’s catalog available in the world that fits every single father—because each father is unique. We can uplift fathers and congratulate them. We can vocalize or visualize how special they are to us. We can shower our fathers with gifts, cards, or items they covet. Or we can support them with quality time or comfort. There are unlimited possibilities and eternal rewards for both the family and father—because at the end of the day, we should dedicate this one day to loving our fathers in our unique ways.
Why Black Fathers Are So Important
As aforementioned, fathers come by very different names, roles, and loving styles. Sadly, in this diverse group, some fathers are smeared by society’s negative stereotypes and portrayals—such as the portrayals of fathers in the Black community. Unfortunately, there is a persisting stereotype about Black fathers being absent from their families’ lives. The stereotype is continually being exacerbated on social media and ingrains a hurtful image of the Black father into societal standards.
A commonly cited statistic is 70 percent of Black fathers have non-marital births, according to an early 2000s study by the Pew Research Center. However, that 70 percent misses the mark. It does not consider fathers continuing to raise children even while remaining unmarried. It does not include the potential of a marriage engagement while the child is being born. It does not represent a family dynamic that opposes the nuclear family model. Finally, the percentage does not predict if Black fathers will engage with their families. So, this original perception is not only inaccurate, but also especially harmful to the image of Black fathers who push each day for their families while working to thrive and succeed in an unjust world.
These stereotypes that persist are exactly why Father’s Day in the Black community should be especially cherished—because many of these Black fathers go above and beyond to demonstrate and prove (rightly or wrongly) that they care about their families, and they matter. They are already set behind, in appreciation and gratitude, by stereotypes that misrepresent and diminish their roles. So, we say to Black fathers and all fathers, stand up! Continue the push to define what a father means and exemplify someone who can be looked up to by your family and society. And to readers (who are not fathers), it is equally important to recognize the situation and uplift all fathers—especially Black fathers—on Father’s Day.
The Youth Perspective on Fathers
Today, the world continues to transform for our fathers and all of us. Everything from how we interact with each other, to how we learn, to what we watch, to how we relate to our family is shifting. One of our previous articles mentioned that a gap exists between how each generation differs in interacting with these new world changes—called the intergenerational gap—and how all generations can reconnect by focusing on their similarities instead of differences. Taking that advice to Father’s Day, we could incorporate both elements from our past and present to connect fathers of multiple generations. If we all consider sitting down and pausing for a moment, this could be our best way to connect to our fathers via different mediums in this ever-changing moment.
And ever so timely, a few of our scholars here at Future Foundation appreciated their fathers via a video medium. Please view their thank-you’s on our Instagram page.