In Search of Books about African American Fathers: In Honor of Father's Day

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

About six years ago, during a guerrilla-marketing effort, I would advertise books with a adolescent baby maker/artist in what I can alone euphemistically call as street-corner campaigns. On a annual basis, actuality in Los Angeles, California, we would set up bright tables with African book table cloths, flowers, baskets abounding with my books, incense, ribbons and the added woman's handmade dolls.

That year, on Mother's Day, we awash out of our annual and fabricated a profit. However, a ages later, on Father's Day, it was a altered story.

In fact, abounding of the men (and women) who chock-full by our adorned table just about gave us the old average finger, told us area their fathers could go and what they could do if they got there.

Wheww!!! Searching back, this is a sad allegation as to the scars larboard abaft if our fathers are not in our lives.

Nowadays, it is accepted ability that we charge our fathers, so this isn't what this commodity is about. So as I anticipation about autograph this commodity for Father's Day, I approved to anticipate of the books I'd apprehend with able images of Atramentous fathers.

I had to absolutely anticipate on this. What does able beggarly for a atramentous blowing in a association that has already apprenticed your ancestors, paid your ancestors abundance for you to break out of the house, and currently incarcerates one in ten adolescent atramentous men against one in 100 white men?

So I had to appear up with addition analogue of what able meant.

I anticipation of the books I've written. In my aboriginal novel, THE EBONY TREE, (written in 1995), I can't say the blowing angel was adulatory that I corrective of the Atramentous men of my 1950-1962 world. However, it was absolute for that 1950 aeon in Delray, Michigan area I grew up.

I ambition I could say that the up-close-and-personal pictures I witnessed of these men were pictures of fathers who went to plan every day, and who abounding abbey on Sunday. But that was not the case. In fact, the pictures I corrective were so vivid, that in 1999, I bethink a blowing book club affiliate who accused me of "hating atramentous men."

Because I did not amoroso covering the absoluteness of the apple as I knew it, he acquainted I accept to abhorrence atramentous men.

But that is far from the truth. I accept two developed sons and I've been affiliated for about thirty-five years myself to a Atramentous man. I adulation Atramentous men in absolute life, awry and all.

Personally, I anticipate it takes backbone just to be a Atramentous man in this association and appearance up every day.

But if this blowing clairvoyant had looked closer, THE EBONY TREE was a anniversary of the abounding men who backward with their families during that 1950 recession. Although these were the fathers that backward on my block (which included my raconteur, story-loving father), I could alone reflect and portray what I saw growing up. This aswell included top booze consumption, top unemployment, and top amount of womanizing.

In my additional novel, NO POCKETS IN A SHROUD, Reverend Godbolt is a strong, able atramentous man, who never cheated on his wife. Even so, a abstruse has kept him from absolutely admiring his wife and one of his children.

In my a lot of contempo story, SECOND CHANCES, which is allotment of anthology, SECRET LOVERS, due out on 6-6-06, I wrote about a altered blazon of man. Elijiah, who is alone 5 bottom six, (but one of the tallest men I've met in literature,) is a physical/massage therapist, a practitioner of yoga and meditation, and absolutely altered than the archetypal tall, dark, handsome adventurous advance in abounding novels. In creating this character, I advised Elijiah to be a sensitive, caring man, clashing so abounding of the blowing images portrayed in our romances or even artery fiction. He is aswell a abandoned father, adopting his eight year old son.

When I advised my blowing appearance creations, I would say they all are acceptable men--they are just heavily flawed.

Then it airish a catechism for me. If a white columnist writes about a awry white blowing character, it is not an allegation on their accomplished chase of men so why should ours be? (Who can annual for the success of the psychopath, cannibal, consecutive killer, Hannibal Lector, in Thomas Harris' novel, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS?)

So again I anticipation of some of the a lot of able books, which still bell in my anamnesis about fathers; accounting by atramentous authors. Abounding showed complex, imperfect, admirable animal beings.

I still bethink the "ugly-beautiful" ancestor Deighton, who was a charming, pie-in-the-sky dreamer, which Paule Marshall depicted in BROWN GIRL, BROWNSTONES, her aboriginal novel.

Back in 1977, if I apprehend Alice Walker's novel, THE THIRD LIFE OF GRANGE COPELAND, it had to be one of the a lot of aching belief of abandonment yet accretion I'd anytime apprehend up until that time. It was aswell actual real.

On, it states about this book, "Frustrated with the futility of activity in the South, Grange Copeland absolved off and larboard his son and wife and headed North for a bigger life. He alternate afterwards to advice accession his granddaughter afterwards his son, Brownfield, goes to bastille for murdering his wife. As the guardian of the couple's youngest daughter, Grange Copeland is searching at his third--and final-chance to chargeless himself from airy and amusing enslavement."

In Alice Walker's COLOR PURPLE, even Mister, (whom I anamnesis seeing a accumulation of atramentous men on TV agitation the cine version, charging that it portrayed a atramentous man in a abrogating light), had redeeming qualities by the end of the book. He and Celie, (whom he addled beforehand in the book,) seemed to accept become like family, even if not lovers.

And who can cede a added tender, awry Atramentous man than Toni Morrison? My admired blowing appearance from her novels was Paul D, who it was said to be so "blessed" that women wept afterwards his attendance in their house. (Novel: BELOVED.) Also, I afresh abundantly revisited Morrison's third novel, SONG OF SOLOMON's acquisitive Macon Dead and his able son, Milkman, which is a actual male-centered book. But some accept even said she rendered the ancestor appearance Cholly, who confused and abounding his 11-year old babe Pecola (Novel: THE BLUEST EYE), in a animal ablaze area you could at atomic empathize with his twisted, abandoned love.

These are just some of the awry blowing characters in African American books.

Just as we adulation (and recognize) them as readers, in absolute life, accouchement admired awry fathers.

Unfortunately, abounding individual fathers accord up and don't anatomy a accord because they don't accept money. But accouchement don't care. They just wish the adulation and the time from their fathers. Judging from that Father's Day six years ago, adults (former children) not alone wish that time, they charge it.

So what are the answers? They are not simple ones. These are just some suggestions to advice ample in the gaps.

For men whose fathers weren't there, accompany blowing groups at your abbey so you can apprentice how to father. Don't let history echo itself.

And for Atramentous fathers who are dispatch up to the plate, the next bearing applauds you. Even so, why not cover added adulterated boys in your activities with your sons?

For fathers with daughters, be a acceptable archetype of what a man should be. Tell your babe she's beautiful, so she will not be calmly addled by men who beggarly her no good.

For those who grew up with fathers who were emotionally or physically absent, they should go aback and carbon their scripts of their own ethics so that they can alleviate themselves and not be bitter. Carrying abrogating accoutrements from the accomplished alone hinders our relationships and our airy growth.

With that said, abounding Atramentous fathers today feel unappreciated--even if they are in the home, accomplishing the best they can in a racist world.

Therefore, today, on Father's Day, we account and acknowledge you, the Atramentous father.


Suggested titles:

Black Fathers, A Call for Healing

Written by Kristin Clark Taylor

Black Fathers in Contemporary American Society: Strengths, Weaknesses, and Strategies for Change. Edited by Obie Clayton, Ronald B. Mincy, and David Blankenhorn, New York, Russell Sage Foundation; 2003. 179 pp. $35.00. ISBN 0-87154-161-0.