Father’s Day in the United States brought some hard-hitting comment from black leaders. Presidential candidate Barack Obama preached a message of responsibility to black fathers at a church in his hometown, saying too many were missing from their families lives, “acting like boys instead of men” and weakening “the foundations of our families”.
Obama himself grew up without his father from the age of two, but said he was lucky to have loving grandparents who helped his mother. “I resolved many years ago that it was my obligation to break the cycle — that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father to my girls,” he told the congregation, which included his daughters Sasha and Malia, and his wife, Michelle. He urged black parents to demand the best from themselves and their children — not to be satisfied with just B grades but to go for A's.
Bill Cosby, who has been hassling black dads for several years, wrote a comment in USA Today together with Alvin F Poussaint (they co-authored the book, Come On People: On the Path From Victims to Victors) about father-child estrangement. Unemployment and imprisonment made many black men unmarriageable but they tried to prove their manliness by sexual conquests; abandoning their “drive-by babies” only showed their insecurity. Many had never seen a real father in action.
However, there were now many organised efforts to help young black men address these problems. Some men avoided their children because they saw themselves as bad role models. “What they need to appreciate is that from the moment they commit themselves to their child, they can still become good role models,” said Cosby and Poussaint. ~ AP, June 16; USA Today, June 13