As we celebrate Father’s Day, men will take a bow at center stage. Yet, it shouldn’t be just one day, but instead every day that we recognize and respect the importance and impact of men in our lives, family and community.
I recently had the opportunity to interview several men who participate in the Flip the Script program at Goodwill Industries. It’s a program headed by Keith Bennett that helps to redirect the lives of those who may have or are considering the wrong road in life. A phenomenal program, this opportunity allowed me a peek inside the lives of those who champion the benefit of having a supportive and nurturing environment and team. One common denominator of these gentlemen was that they all had issues with their fathers.
While fathers appear to socially disregarded and held nowhere near the level it seems that mothers are, their importance is slowly being recognized and rightfully respected. Their absence leaves a void that cannot be filled, and either becomes a negative template for future fathers or an example of what not to duplicate.
Leaving which option men choose is not being left to chance for Bill Middlebrooks. Rather than wait to see which path men choose, he like Bennett is offering a more positive and productive road for men to travel. In a soon to be announced partnership with the 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit and Focus:HOPE, men will be provided the tools and lessons by which they can be the fathers they are capable of becoming, in most cases better than their fathers were to them.
This is how the trend and tide are changed. There are many men in the African-American community that step up to the challenge of fatherhood. They defy the statistics and stay in the lives of their children, regardless of the relationship with the mother. A few of these men were profiled in a book published last year by Middlebrooks and journalist Leslie Gordon. “Extraordinary Fathers” highlights dads of the famous and unknown, and shows that the difference between being ordinary is simply the willingness to go the “extra” step.
There are also those men, like Bennett and Middlebooks, who have made it their life’s mission to touch and engage as many others as possible to positively impact the perception and reality of the black male and fatherhood. You don’t hear or read about them often, but they are there.
On this Father’s Day, know that there are those rooting for the men who are trying to do better, and resources for those who want to do better but just don’t know how. Don’t believe the hype that all men ignore their families and communities; sure, there are some who do but there are far more who do not. We celebrate fathers…because they matter.
For more information on Flip the Script, visit http://goodwilldetroit.org/programs/flip-the-script/; and visit https://www.extraordinaryfathers.com/ for information on the book, partnership and other fatherhood-focused resources.
Happy Father’s Day!