Many of you have read the title of this piece and surely are either ready to heap praise or excoriate me for honoring black women, especially single mothers on Father’s day. You are expecting me to lift on high, all the black women who have to be “mommy and daddy” and to chastise black men for not being more involved in their children’s lives and are expecting me to use Father’s Day as a vehicle to drive that point home. None of this, however, is a conversation I have any interest in ever really having because it’s simply not productive.
There’s often an argument that the fight for LGBTQ rights should not be compared to the civil rights era. In some ways, I agree, however following the attack this morning on an Orlando area gay club that has left at least fifty people dead, can we acknowledge that fighting for respect and the right to live in peace is a universal concept?
While the civil rights era and everything that led up to it has been the definition of how America treats it’s “others,” no one has the market cornered on oppression and discrimination.
Moreover, if as Black people, we value the fight for our freedom, we can’t participate in the American tradition of focused, systemic discrimination. To simultaneously engage in discrimination while fighting against it for ourselves is the height of contradiction.
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I am not old enough to have seen Muhammad Ali fight in his prime. I was just three years old when he fought his final fight against Trevor Berbick in 1981. But despite our age gap, I would still grow up to be a huge fan.
He was to me what Michael Jordan was to a generation of children who never saw him win a championship. A mythical figure whose triumphs and feats were the stuff of legend. Unlike Jordan, however, the legend of Ali extended into black pride and the struggle for equality for people of color across the world. And it was this, as much as his athletic resume, that made him my personal hero and idol.
The last time I went on a date as a single man my companion and I exchanged pager numbers. Once smitten, I called her dorm room and recited a poem I wrote for her on her answering machine. This was only after purchasing a long distance calling card. Roughly eighteen years and one child later I find myself again single and to be frank, I’m too old for this shit. As I return to the world of singledom, I am greeted by a landscape that consists of microwave relationships forged on smartphones and a hookup culture that occurs with the flick of the wrist. It’s a landscape that, despite the woes of my single friends, I thought I could navigate and maybe even enjoy. What I found instead was the confirmation of my loneliness.
While dating services have existed since the inception of dating itself, the smartphone-driven version I and millions of others find themselves immersed in today is, relatively speaking, extremely young. Like any other young digital platform, it still feels steeped in its wild west phase (think of what social media was a decade ago versus what it is now). When Tinder first launched in 2012, I was fully entrenched in husbandhood, but even then I remember thinking “Wow, cute girls and the potential for nearly instant sexual encounters that won’t end up with me in the back of a patrol car? That sounds amazing!” Because, after all, the proverbial grass is always greener.
One of the most painful parts of adulthood is bearing witness to the withering and passing of idols and dreams. It’s the point where mortality becomes less abstract. The tipping point between the youthful promise of forever and the responsibility of finality. The passing of Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor (45), a member of the legendary group A Tribe Called Quest, is yet another sad reminder of the immutable passing of time.