What Does Black Fatherhood Mean To You?

Black fathers in this country and around the world carry both the incredible responsibility of pillaring their communities and the immense joy of shepherding a new generation through life.
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This experience and more are eloquently explored in Color Him Father, a novel by Lawrence M. Drake II about black fatherhood and coping with unthinkable loss. Drake is fearlessly candid in Color Him Father, fostering a community of and camaraderie between black fathers who identify with his struggle and experiences. 

As we continue to navigate two pandemics—one that struck with a merciless vengeance just a few months ago and another that has plagued us for quite some time, we want to celebrate this Father’s Day by featuring the considerations, emotions, strength, and excellency of black fathers around the world. 

Paul Kukubo, Pretoria, South Africa: Black fatherhood is amazing. Watching my teenagers grow in consciousness and personal responsibility is amazing. Both my teenagers have many friends from many cultures and they are conscious of those differences. I have used this time to explain the meaning of being Black African and how our diversity can be a strength.

Quinton Jackson, Atlanta GA: Being a Black father means I have to make sacrifices and mistakes so that my son doesn’t make the same ones I did.

Tony Mwai, Johannesburg, South Africa: Black fatherhood is everything to me. It’s an unparalleled lifelong bond with my daughters—a bond made from love, care, worry, joy, pride, hopes, dreams, rises, falls, successes, failures, learnings that transcends time and distance.

Phillip Mwai, Washington, D.C.: Raising a child isn’t easy…it is challenging and sometimes stressful. Yet it is deeply rewarding at the same time. Being a Black father means I have to navigate the ever-present and nagging concern that my son will be judged by the color of his skin instead of the kind, thoughtful and cheerful person that he is. I can only pray that when the BLM dust settles, my fears will no longer be warranted.

Silas Wainaina, Cape Town, South Africa: Skin color has never been something I thought I would need to talk to my kids about. Four years staying in South Africa and living in mostly white neighborhoods, I have had to explain to my son why his hair is not as straight as his friends, had to explain to my daughter that she doesn’t have to have blonde hair and blue eyes to be beautiful.

Benson Mungai, Bowie, Maryland: Fatherhood to me is about ‘adoptability’ especially in these trying times. Most importantly, I’m focused on just being ‘present’ for my Family.

PK Muiruri, Durban, South Africa: Being a Father is not only the most heartful joy one can experience but also a tough responsibility. In addition, being a Black father includes extra responsibilities. You are not only expected to be a great role model to your own kids but to Black kids in your community and especially to those who may not have a father figure in their lives. However, I choose not to fail as a Black Father!

Mark Anthony Montgomery, Washington, D.C.: Being a Black father right now means being extra with my child, in the best way. It means making sure that he always has something to do, activities to participate in, and that I have all the answers for him. No matter what, I push myself for him. It’s my job to make sure my child has every opportunity imaginable. 

Michael Makale, Seattle, WA/Nairobi, Kenya: As a Black father in America right now and witnessing a movement (not a moment) calling for a change of what is happening to Black people in this country, I have a lot to reflect on. My daughters carry both an American and a Kenyan perspective, and I’m so grateful that they get the opportunity to see the world both ways. On the other hand, I have fears. I look at what happened to Breonna Taylor and I think “what if that happened to one of my daughters.” That can happen and it’s still happening in America and it’s painful. Black lives matter and our journey matters. Our journey as immigrants in this country matters. 

This Father’s Day and beyond, we must listen to the incredible truths, hardships, and victories Black fathers everywhere experience. Color Him Father tells those stories. Of the poignant and powerful novel, Drake says:  

“It occurred to me that I needed to approach it as a father coming to terms with losing his little girl. But I don’t want it to be a book about mourning our children, I want it to be a celebration. I want it to be about a way for other fathers who look like us to recommit to the amazing things they already do.” 

Happy Father’s Day to all of the wonderful men who guide, uplift, support, and unconditionally love their children and communities.

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Kui Mwai

Kui Mwai

Kenyan-American. Lover of Toni Morrison, Astrology, and Whitney Houston. I write about culture, blackness, health and love. Email: kuikmwai@gmail.com

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