(Unedited) I never really thought of myself as a “daddyless/fatherless daughter” til Iyanla Vanzant said it.
I was in the audience of Oprah’s Lifeclass shows, and though I was aware of the topic, I was still mulling over this “fatherless/daddyless daughter” label, even as I sat there. I’ve thought about this label for a few years and it still does not resonate with me.
My challenge with the term is this, and I hold this sooooo very dear to my existence and it is my foundation: in my father’s absence he gave me his God/Father, as did my mama; so, as parents, they gave me their God. Therefore, God has always been there for me as a F/father and if using contemporary language, God was always gender non-conforming and intersexed for me. Stay with me bloomers/readers.
As a child I questioned why God had to be a He. I toyed around with, and found secret super-gyrl-powers in the thought that God could also be a gyrl, like me. I guess then in many ways, I’ve always acknowledged God as both a He and a feminine entity, She. God then was also dual-spirited because though I was a reflection, as a girl, God was also, “Man on the moon.”
I do not live in a fantasy world. And a part of being a visible Womon/Black is acknowledging my truth. My truth does not take away or negate anyone else’s truth, but I will not sweep it under the rug cos it’s uncomfortable. As a child, in my biological father’s absence, my mama used to tell me that she loved me enough for a mother and a father. This sounds so binary, “mama”…”daddy” and so cookie cutter, but we know that in most homes things are not that simple. Anyhoo, my mama is not the only one who said this. There are plenta Black mamas who have told their children they love them enough for a mother and father, and who have taken on the responsibilities of both a mother and father.
This does not mean I wish my mother a Happy Father’s Day, cos she is not my father, she is my mother—point blank. Something that my mother NEVER did and I sooooo appreciate it, she never shitted on my father. Never down-talked him or pretended that he did not exist. I was allowed to form my own opinions and process my own truths. I know who my father is, he is alive, and one interesting irony is that he’s a preacha. Yes chile, I am technically, a pk, preacher’s kid (better yet a p.c., preacha’s child cos I try not to call human children, kids.) That my father is a preacher, always cracks me up. I say all the time my life is a tv movie, but not on Lifetime. Lol.
SN: My mama so cute, I remember the time she took me for a one-on-one session with my childhood pastor for me talk about how I felt about my father. I remember my feet swinging, couldn’t touch the floor, as I sat in the big chair and I was enamored by the pastor’s big office and though the reverend was a petite man, he had a huge influence on my life as a child. I say this to say, Black mamas also have to figure out how to handle the absence of fathers.
Also, though I am a daughter, I do not believe that a Black womon can teach a Black boy how to be a man. Having worked with Black boys at various ages, I have a unique vantage, I believe. As womyn, we can do our best, and can do a great job of rearing sons, but a Black man is needed to teach a Black boy how to be, a Black man. This Black man will not always be ones biological father, and I’m so elated that there are brothas in our communities who step up and be that for boys.
Nonetheless, with so much focus on Black boys in this country, Black girls are forgotten about or given ancillary focus, but let’s be very clear, Black girls also need Black men in our lives. I can pinpoint the very day that I needed the words, guidance, support…love of my bio father. I remember that day like it was yesterday, so vivid in both my cognitive and emotional memory. And it’s strange cos it’s this one moment in the many days of my life. And though many can step in and do tha damn thing, I assume it ain’t nothing like a biological father being in their child’s life.
As Africans displaced in these americas, we have a tricky her/history. A herstory where white men raped Black girls and womyn. Where we couldn’t choose who would be the father of our children. Also, where families were torn and fathers were sent to other plantations. So today, I acknowledge Black men who father, as a verb….as action, it soooooo makes my heart and ovaries smile when I see it. But in acknowledging this, I will not ignore my own truth of an absentee father and that of many Black girls.
Black womyn are put in precarious positions and are often blamed for the actions of Black children. With the Harambee situation, it was the Black mama who was blamed. Though they brought up the dad’s background, it was still the mama who was blamed.
The cascading outrage toward the boy’s mother and her alleged neglectful parenting is hypocritical and disingenuous, but the public conversation about this story is also racist and sexist. – Brittney Cooper
Also, during the “crack-cocaine epidemic,” it was mamas who were criminizalized, and a further Black femininization of poverty occurred. Often, historically Black fathers are let off the hook, but mamas are always, the worms at the end of the line, baited. So, today as I acknowledge my own truth about my own father and others who CHOOSE to be absent, cos just like pops didn’t have a “how to” book, neither did mamas, though society tells womyn that we have an upper hand on this parenting thing, I also acknowledge those brothas who did show up and who CHOOOSE to step in. Those brothas who showed me love and what it was to be a father, a daddy. To this end, the other side of my truth is that there were Black men who loved me in the absence of my father.
Lastly, I want to acknowledge, but not go deep into, those who are gender non-conforming, trans-men, queer brothas who often get left out of these Father Day convos. I salute you as well for showing up and showing out as fathers.