This column is in response to those who don't 'think' that Black fathers are pulling their weight in the home. The reality may cause you to think! WHEN WILL BLACK FATHERS BE ALLOWED PEACE? The African American father of today is carrying a triple load. First, a firm MAJORITY of us are working to support, provide, and raise our OWN families. Second, a firm MAJORITY of us are helping to ‘mentor’ or ‘raise’ children from single parent homes. Third, a firm MAJORITY of us are working IN and AROUND many of our local communities to help steer many of our young men AND young women away from the streets, and into responsible and upright living. In my neck of the mighty Midwest, we have Black fathers who are patrolling the hallways of local high schools. We have Black fathers (along with Black mothers) who patrol one of our major shopping malls a few hours per weekend to keep OUR young people from running headlong into trouble with the law. We have other Black fathers working in their local houses of worship with young men in their congregations. We have other Black fathers working with youth who have been incarcerated, or jailed for crimes committed. You won’t see many of us doing these things, because it is more important--in our view--to get the job done, rather than pose for the cameras, or appear on talk shows explaining why we do, what we do. But it SURE would be nice for many in our communities to take the time to remember that they have gotten where they are thanks to TWO people. A Black mother and a Black father. Not only is this the truth, and not a ‘self-esteem’ lesson, but also this is REALITY. But it SURE would be nice to find some peace, among our people, in many of our communities. I’ll be happy to explain why, in just a few lines. SELF-ESTEEM MORE IMPORTANT THAN TRUTH? African American men in general, and African American fathers in particular have been poked, prodded, studied, examined, and re-examined over the last 30 years by a host of sociologists, psychologists, MSWs, counselors, ‘Think Tanks’ (both Democrat and Republican), economists, feminists, multi-culturalists, diversity speakers and media pundits--of various races. We’ve been ‘chewed on’ by our women (single and/or married), ‘gossiped about’ in various magazine publications, and ‘grilled’ by our youth. But then--along comes Michael Jordan who honors his late father. But then--along comes Tiger Woods who honors his father. But then--along comes the Williams sisters who honor their father. And ALL the critics can find is that the soft, fuzzy, feel good ‘self-esteem rhetoric’ has been firmly replaced by the truth of a strong WORK ethic! The critics find that there are SOME--if not MANY--Black fathers who still believe: “If you WANT something, you have to WORK for it--and self-esteem DOES NOT pay bills, win scholarships, or championships!” Yes, say what you want about the problems that may plague our communities. However, many of the problems can be traced to three things: Rebellion, Compromise, and a lack of listening to one’s father! Yes, the feminized mainstream entertainment and media may portray that ‘Father DON’T Know Best’, but the truth is right in front of many of us. Dad is pretty wise, as he’s come through the battles of life and helped put YOU here! A GRIM REALITY: If I may get biblical for a moment, one of the Ten Commandments holds that we are to honor BOTH our father and mother, so that our lives may be long upon this earth. To make it short and sweet, we can’t honor one OR the other, we have to honor BOTH! Not because it is ‘politically correct’, but because it is RIGHT! I’ve noticed over this past summer the flurry of articles about why young men are not entering nor graduating from many of our colleges and universities as fast as young women. Could it be that they don’t want to go where they are NOT wanted? I’ve also read a few articles on why young men are not ‘anxious’ to get married and raise families. Could it be that many young women are fearful of commitment? Among the brotherhood, it is common knowledge that more than a few young men have had the ring, the preacher, and the rice ready--but the young women wanted to ‘find themselves’ and nixed the idea of marriage. Then, to round out my summer, I read several articles and commentaries about what fathers ‘should’ be doing, or are ‘not’ doing, or ‘can’t’ do. Well, unless one has taken a good look at what fathers ARE doing, could it be that the critics don’t want to see? The grim reality of many an ‘expert’ is that they often comment without doing their homework. If they have an ax to grind about their own upbringing, why try to paint ALL fathers with the same brush, just because THEIR father wasn’t perfect. WOULDN’T TRADE A THING: In truth, there are NO perfect earthly fathers or mothers. Our parents were not perfect, and neither were their parents. Confidentially, society--no matter how it may try to ‘spin’ itself--is not perfect as well! But, African American fathers are NOT the problem; they are part of the solution! America has found out the hard way that famed saying of T. D. Jakes: “A nation of women can not raise up a nation of men!” That became clear on September 11th, 2001 as the nation watched scores of Black and White men--many of them fathers--rush into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to save lives. Or the Black and White men--many of them fathers--who took on various hijackers on those planes that missed their intended targets. Those fathers deserve to have peace. So do the REST of us. As a father, I’ve had my share of heartaches and headaches, but I wouldn’t trade one of them to be a ‘wise’ critic of fatherhood. To those who like to criticize, but don’t have kids of their own, here’s a novel suggestion: Put aside your selfishness and ‘self-esteem’, get married, and have some kids of your own! Then, you will understand what I’ve been writing about. Then, you will understand what your OWN fathers have tried to tell YOU! Mike Ramey is the author of THE MANHOOD LINE. A syndicated, monthly column, written from a biblical, business, and common sense perspective. Email welcome to manhood [email protected]. ©2002 Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications International (3).