I remember growing up as a little girl in the suburban areas of Kansas City. As I entered preschool, my parents made the decision to put me and my brother in a Christian private school that was close to the inner city. Dressed up in our white and blue uniforms, we were always ready for another day at Glad Tidings.
One morning, something happened on the side of the road going to school with my father. Near the side of the freeway in our white car—it completely stopped. My father pulled over just in time for the car to settle on the street. I don’t remember much of school that day, but I do remember my father getting me out of the car as we began to take steps to my school.
As a little girl, all I saw was the sacrifice my father was making to get me inside my school where the air conditioning blew that would also protect my pretty curly hair my mom styled neatly that morning.
From the street view, I am sure people driving in their cars had different assumptions of a Black father walking his little girl to school.
At that moment, I am unsure if anyone stopped to offer help, which would change their personal perspective of why we were foot stepping on the side of the freeway. I never knew if my father ever made it to work that day, but I can assure you by the time I got home, there was a meal at the table and a place to rest my head. His love and actions were always sacrificial even if I did not always understand the decisions that shaped who I am today.
Black fatherhood—there are so many perspectives that shape the way we view our Black fathers. Some of them are shaped by our own personal experiences and some are shaped by the way the world around us has expected our Black fathers to be.
You see, companies like Google capture the street view of every place in the world. They fill their street view in their app with images, landmarks, and locations for one viewing to see. They allow people to get directions and views of the real world. In fatherhood, it is a real world captured by opinions, perspectives, and images depicted by others in their own view.
As I was watching my husband rock our little girl back to sleep at 5 a.m., I smiled and thought about the way he is changing and challenging the way fathers are told how to show up for their families.
Every day I get a direct view of the way my husband, a Black father, cultivates the space to love on his little girl.
I get to view the direct impact he is making in her life by not just being present, but by also giving love that he may have had to learn deeply over the years as a Black man.
Growing up, Black men are taught to be the best at so many things. The best athlete, the best scholar, the best gamer, the best rapper, you name it. Although those things are not bad things, what a joy is it to see Black men take pride in being fathers. Black fathers who take pride in being an example to other fathers—to show them that loving their children is one of the best things one could offer. Black fathers who rise up against the pressure and oppression that try to stand in the way of becoming all a father can be for his family, his future, and his children.
As I reflect on my father being raised by a single mother of six children, I am reminded of the possibilities and stigmas that Black fathers can beat. I am reminded how powerful it is to see Black fathers stand as walking examples and testimonies of what they may not have had growing up.
I am reminded of the sacrificial love Black fathers build over time that brings nourishment, strength, and dignity to their homes.
The street view of Black fatherhood—there are so many, but through the many different views, I stand in hope that the joy of Black fatherhood will continue to rise beyond what the world around us may feel they are incapable of being . . . bold, courageous, and loving providers in their home, in their communities, and in their own personhood.
Originally published on Medium