I Am An Excellent Father

Would you believe I am an excellent father? Or would you doubt it based on how I look?

I am an excellent father. 

I wake up before my family does and go downstairs to exercise. I brew coffee and drink it from my Star Wars mug. I greet my son and wife as they lumber downstairs, my son running into my arms. Our toddler knows the drill. I scoop him up, and together we pile into my 2000 Dodge Durango, the same car I have had since high school. Off we go to my parents’ house where our son will spend the day while we work.

I am an excellent father.

I get home and head up to the guest bedroom, which we have transformed into a homemade office during stay-at-home orders. I join meetings, answer e-mails, and do my typical everyday work.

I am an excellent father.

My breaks are filled with watching “House Hunters” and making a “Target run” almost every other day — there seems to be something we are always forgetting. I check our budget constantly to make sure we are on track financially. Later, I prep for dinner before rushing upstairs to finish the last of my work.

I am an excellent father.

After work, I finish up dinner as our son and my wife come rushing in from their afternoon run. Sweaty, she collapses to the floor, while our son toddles around, full of energy. I take breaks from cooking to roughhouse with him, sending him into a fit of giggles. We eat dinner and do our best to keep the phones away. Afterward, my wife and I switch roles. I roll around and play on the floor while she cleans up the kitchen. A little later, it’s my son’s bedtime. I kiss him goodnight and settle in for an evening of TV and relaxing.

I am an excellent father.

Weekends pass in similar fashion. Chores. Trips to the park. Takeout. Neighborhood walks. Snuggles with our son. Playtime on the floor. Airplane. Wrestling. Tickles. Catch. Bubbles. Swimming in the pool. Church. Shuttling around in the car from one adventure to the next. Collapsing on the couch when it is all over, our son tucked away for the night. Discussing our son. Worrying about the typical things parents worry about and laughing about the funny things our son did that day.

I am an excellent father.

I love my wife and son. I have a good job. I pay the bills. I visit my mom and dad. I call my in-laws. On paper, I am just like the millions of other fathers we celebrate every June.

I am an excellent father. 

But what if you saw me? Out walking in your neighborhood? Driving in my car? Shopping at your store? Would you believe I am an excellent father? Or would you doubt it based on how I look?

See, I am black, and the world regularly discredits black dads.  

I was excited and fearful when we discovered my wife was pregnant. Since my wife is white and I am black, predicting what our child would look like was impossible. Fear and tragic thoughts clouded my mind. If he were fairer skinned, would strangers not believe I was his father and call the cops if we were in public? If he were darker, would he learn the hard way what it means to be black in America?

My father was an amazing role model, but American media has not been kind in their portrayals of black fatherhood. It would lead you to believe that most black fathers were either imprisoned or using drugs. You might think black men were not good father material. 

That’s simply not the case.

As I’ve grown older, and made friends with more black men who were already fathers or planning to be, I’ve learned not to allow the fear of parenting while black to paralyze me. My son is now 16 months old and is the joy of my life. I am at peace and refuse to allow the negative portrayals of black men as fathers to impact me.

Isn’t it time we uplift black fathers? I, for one, think it is.

I am an excellent father.

Now it’s time for you to think so as well.

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