Around the world today, fathers are being celebrated for the lives they’ve created, guided, and shaped. And deservedly so. Their invaluable contributions are often overlooked or unheralded, yet they persevere in the lives of their children every day.

A good father is a gift, and the value of his relationship with his children is one that cannot be underestimated or duplicated—not even by the best and most dedicated of single-mothers. A father, in the truest sense of the word, is the bedrock of a family. It is he who stabilizes, guides, protects, and provides. There is an inherent strength and security that a father brings to the lives of his children. He is his child’s first super hero—the living, breathing, able one who can make everything better when all else seems to have failed.

And it is black fathers especially who deserve recognition on this day. As the image of the absent black father abounds, there are legions of black fathers who are powerfully present and active in the lives of their children. They are there for it all—the twilight feedings and infinite number of diaper changes; the bedtime stories; the school drop-offs and pick-ups; the first bike rides with and without training wheels; the ‘Daddy-Daughter’ dances and ‘Father-Son’ events; the doctor appointments; the baseball, basketball, and football games; the trips to barber shops and hair salons; the first crush and mending of a broken heart; the prom; the first driving lesson; graduations; the wedding day walk down the aisle; the birth of the next generation; the bequeather of lessons that endure far beyond their time on this earth.

These men are real. They are not exceptions or anomalies. They are the norm. I am certain of this because I see them every day in the lives of my cousins; my friends; my twenty-something single-father student raising not one, but two sons on his own; my girlfriends’ husbands and co-parents; my neighbors; my co-workers; my son’s own God-father; my accountant; and my dear friend who has not yet had a biological child of his own, but has raised his sister’s daughter since birth. She is now 15.

I admire each and every one of these men for the strength they manifest amidst a world in which they are perpetually treated like the enemy. For their determination even when uncertainty dwells within. For their unwavering commitment to their children regardless of the state of the union with the mother. For demonstrating that black fatherhood is alive and vibrant when society perpetuates a narrative that says otherwise. For leaving a beautiful legacy in the lives of our black children who not only need, but deserve you.

Thank you for fathering those you created biologically, inherited by way of a love that blossomed with their mother, those you fostered, adopted, coached, and mentored. We see you. We appreciate you. We honor you. And we love you.

Happy Father’s Day brothers!

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