“If I could get another chance
Another dance with him
I’d play a song that would never ever end
How I’d love love love
To dance with my father again”
– Luther Vandross Dance with My Father
I was born in October of 1985, and my father passed away in January of 1987, so, unfortunately I do not have any memories of my father. I do not remember being held by him, his smile, or his laugh. My father prematurely passed away, but too many fathers’ today are walking out on their children.
According to government statistics 72% of African-American children are born to unwed mothers. The overwhelmingly majority of those children are in single-parent households headed by a woman. According to Children-our investment.org, homes without fathers ultimately affect children in tragic ways:
* 63 percent of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
* 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
* 85 percent of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes
* 80 percent of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes
* 71 percent of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes
* 75 percent of all adolescent patients in chemical-abuse centers come from fatherless homes
* 85 percent of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes
“These statistics apply to African-American homes in disproportionate numbers. Compared with the 72 percent in our communities, 17 percent of Asians, 29 percent of whites, 53 percent of Hispanics and 66 percent of Native Americans were born to unwed mothers in 2008, the most recent year for which government figures are available. The rate for the overall U.S. population was 41 percent (Nsenga Burton).”
I know how difficult it is growing up without a father. A father fills a void no mother, brother, uncle, or mentor can fill. Fathers’ teach their sons how to become men, how to treat a woman, how to get up every morning and go to work, and teaches them the importance of family. While I do not remember my father, there isn’t a day that goes by that I do not think of him, I hope he would be pound of the man I am becoming, and I know he is always with me.
I could not imagine growing up with an absentee father, for a man to contribute to making a baby then walk out on that child is absurd to me. It is pass time for men to step up to the plate and start taking responsibility for their children. If you do not plan on marrying the woman you’re with then you should not get her pregnant, it is not only unfair to the child, but also the community. Women, you have to do a better job of picking a mate, do not get mad at “Mike Mike” and “Ray Ray” when they walk out on you, when you knew they were no good and did the same exact thing to their other “baby mamas”.
If your father is in your life remember to show him that he is appreciated and loved, honor your father every opportunity you get because there are many like me who would happily give up everything we own for 15 minutes with our fathers.
I Hope this letter finds you well. I can’t believe you have be gone for 25 years, there isn’t a single day that passes when I am not thinking about you, or thinking about how different my life would be had you been in it. You did a wonderful job in picking a mate. My mother is the best, so strong, so dedicated, so focused, I know times had to be tough for her in the wake of your absence, but I never seen her worry, cry, or give up. She is doing well, still teaching, and honestly enjoying her life.
You would also be happy to know that all of your children turned out great. We all went to college and only Chelle did not finish, but I am sure you knew from the day she was born that she was a special one (kidding Chelle). Chelle is an awesome mother and community activist (go figure), with a great husband and two beautiful & bad kids, Chelby and CJ. Mont continues to be the caring big brother. Mont’s daughter DaNia recently finished high school and will be going off to college this Fall. Kim is doing well, a very strong and beautiful woman. Kim’s son Tyler is a giant, he definitely benefited from your height. Tyler is taller than me and he is only 13 years old, yikes! Chante is still the beautiful fighter she has been all of her life, highly educated and still fighting every battle. You would be very proud of us.
As for me, I am well, still trying to find myself. I do not have any children or significant other in my life (a huge feat for a Sutton male I know). I moved to Washington D.C. two years ago to chase my dreams of becoming a public servant. With any luck, I will be the first African American Governor of Florida, but for now, I am still growing and learning. I want you to know that you are loved and missed.