By: Robert Small
As we celebrate the existence and contributions of our fathers with all the presents, special dinners and the usual "Happy Father's Day" greeting in the morning, maybe we should also be thinking a little deeper. Our thoughts should also be on the many sacrifices our grandfathers and great grandfathers made and the accidental negative acts they put into motion that affected generations of black people.
A clearly negative history that certain fathers have continued throughout generations is directly traced to slavery. In the Caribbean and in the Americas the role of the black male was merely to produce more children and to work unmercifully for the plantation owner. A role which denied them the ability to emotionally connect with children, care for them, take enjoyment from their daily existence and eventually, just see them as products of a forced sexual encounter.
Eventually these men, through no fault of their own, became emotionally disconnected from the act of sex, the children they created and felt no type of responsibility towards them. That's what happened then and the same thing is happening now.
The legacy of the plantation will be seen today on social media with single mothers being told "Happy Father's Day." Such open congratulatory shout-outs are definitely a testament to the ability of those mothers. But it's also an open indictment of the broken models of fatherhood existing in their lives. It's sad really, but predictable because the model itself within the black community is in dire need of repair.
Equating your manhood in 2015 with the amount of children you have, sexual conquests and your unaccountability to them is the 19th-century version of an African being whipped unmercifully and told to get on top of his wife to "breed." We're not animals that "breed," we're men that create children. The children that we create and the generations to follow need models of fatherhood that will make them "happy," not "unhappy." Happiness is really found in embracing what that enslaved African was deprived of, a true connection to the children you have created.
A truly "Happy Father's Day" is found in working every day to create a new model of fatherhood. A new model should be made where a father's happiness is built around how his children view him as a father. One where a father's presence is felt on a daily basis whether it be in person or in his temporary absence if he does not live with them.
Fathers should not beat their chest on merely "putting food on the table," that is what you are supposed to do. The deeper test of your manhood is what you are doing to prepare for their future. Are you involved in your child's education? Are you investing in RESPs or other ventures that will financially support your children? Are you emotionally and spiritually connected to them? When they say "I love you Dad!" is it a statement or a subtle question being put forward of "But, do you love me?"
Most importantly, do you have a will and a life insurance policy? If you truly love your kids, your last memory should not be a whirlwind of unfinished business and a huge debt that sets them back decades. Your legacy should be that after all the tears have been shed a generation of your family has been thrown economically forward, not backward. Imagine three generations of fathers with life insurance policies of a million dollars being left throughout their family line compared to three generations of absent fathers.
So this Father's Day, I would throw out the challenge to all fathers to truly be "happy" for themselves, their children and their children's children. You have the power to alter further generations of families in turmoil, emotionally distraught daughters and sons with distorted and damaging concepts of manhood.
Many of you have disclosed to me privately that you have no concept of how to be a father, that your own father not being around haunts you to this very day as a grown man and that you privately/openly hate your mother because she refuses to tell you your father's name. That is a lot of pain to deal with. How can you truly be "happy" on Father's Day when your own father never made you happy?
Honestly, some of the stories I've heard make me feel like crying right now. In public, these men are proud, charismatic, intelligent and powerful. But behind the scenes, they cry, let loose emotional outbursts and a deep pain that reveals a child still longing for their father's love and affection. It's painful to see, hear and usually uncomfortable for me because despite my father not being perfect, he was there and I felt connected to him.
Despite the past, it's time to "man-up" brother. When I mean "man-up," it means to talk to your children about both the negative and positive impact that your father has had on you. It means to enjoy your children and your time with them despite whatever family, financial or personal issues you might be going through. It means to plan for your own success while making sure that your children enjoy that rise to the top along with you.
Most importantly, you can really show what it is to be a "man" if you put into motion a new model of fatherhood that would affect generations to come. If you have put the "happy" into "Happy Father's Day," I hope this article is the first thing you read.
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