ABOVE: Demez White with son Lennox White and Zion with his father Equality
No matter how many fathers you see coaching little league games or screaming at the top of their lungs at high school graduations, there is still a narrative that Black men aren’t great fathers. And I get it. How many songs can we hear where our favorite rapper tells us about watching his mom struggle? How many sports interviews have we seen where they highlight the fatherless son but ignore the draft pick three tables over that says his dad has been there since day one?
My cousin is a police officer and has two sons that both want to be just like him. My brother is a barber and has three sons, each of them adore him and can come to him with anything. My childhood best friend doesn’t believe in the word “step” when describing his sons. Once he started loving their mother, they became his sons, his daughters, his children. My generation isn’t redefining what it is to be a father because we never lost it.
The story of struggle and overcoming sells better than the story of support, understanding and molding the hearts and minds of our children. This article isn’t to try and prove that Black men are good fathers, this article is celebrating it.
My son came into this world on August 6, 2018. People constantly tell you, “You won’t understand what it’s like being a parent until you have children.” And even though I understood the concept I didn’t understand what they meant until I laid eyes on him for the first time. In that moment I knew I would do whatever it took to make sure he was good and that meant always being there for him no matter what.
I speak life into my son every morning. I pray for him and bathe him and brush his teeth and wipe his butt. I have conversations with him that might seem minor now but one day he won’t be three, he’ll be thirteen and then he’ll be twenty-three and then he’ll have a wife and get married and have his children. And throughout all of that I’ll be there for him and he’ll know he can trust me because of what I’m doing right now. Because of the relationship I’m building with him right now.
As a writer I’ve been in a lot of rooms. A lot of photoshoots, a lot of commercials, a lot of film sets. I’m the fly on the wall, the guy that’s rarely talking but always listening. Always trying to find the story in the moment. I watched Eric interact with his son, laugh with his son, hand his son his shoes in a symbolic way but now that they wear the same size; in a real way. In their relationship, in their eyes, I saw my future. I saw my son smiling and turning sixteen, I saw him asking to borrow my car.
We aren’t weekend fathers. We aren’t anomalies, we are the norm. As a matter of fact, we’re better than the norm because Black men are powerful. When we are on, WE ARE ON! When we teach, when we lead, we raise Kings.
A lot of the men I know didn’t have fathers growing up and we took that and it made us want to be the men that we wish we would have had in our lives. It didn’t make us run. No generation or race is perfect, there are going to be men out here that fall short but they aren’t who I’m talking about. I’m talking about the father’s that take one drink of a water and then their child takes a sip and the water is gone.
I’m talking about the fathers that get off work and just want to watch SportsCenter and forget about the heat but they have to go outside and play baseball or basketball or ride bikes because their child hasn’t seen them all day.
The fathers that drive to three different CVS’s in the middle of the night because their child will only suck on one type of pacifier.
When you see our sons in our shoes, it’s because what’s ours is theirs.