Tim Brown hopes he’s up for the challenge of a daughter’s braids someday, too.
As a young, single male, I eagerly anticipate the prospect of fatherhood. I feel it is the biggest honor that a man could carry; the ability to have a legacy manifested in flesh. Fathers embody steadfast character and fortify their families and communities with unnecessary fanfare.
Recently, an internet picture surfaced with a man doing the hair of his daughter. Of particular interest was the races of the two involved: the father was white and the daughter was black. An article on the site kulturekritic was written about it, musing aloud the reason why this was such a sentimental piece.
The author of the article goes on to say:
For some reason, people were touched by the image. We’re not sure if it’s because they just love to see any father spending time with his daughter or because they believe that her black daddy probably abandoned her.
While I am not claiming to be an expert on race relations, the author of this article hints at some underlying points: the image of black fatherhood isn’t a positive one in this country, reinforced daily by inaccuracies in word of mouth and media portrayal. Black women live in fear of abandonment from their paternal counterparts. Or, if the father is a participant in his children’s lives, then his contribution leaves much to be desired.
Moreover, black people are extremely guarded about their ‘dirty laundry’. That is, there are issues within the black community that black people feel should be dealt with in house. For instance, since black men are such unsuitable mates, maybe black women should turn their romantic interests elsewhere in order to fulfill. There are even books that have been penned on this topic.
Additionally, there is shock seeing a white man with a darker complected black daughter. Viewers may assume—rightly, in this case—that she is another man’s biological child. It can bring forward feelings of the ‘white savior’ or ‘white guilt’ to the observer; that is, this father’s goodness in this instance is a product of his intrinsic desire to right historic wrongs. White men have been generalized as villains, and men in general have had their perceived importance marginalized and minimalized, all of which leads to the many slights, public and private, of black fathers and distrust of interracial fathers.
However, men’s lives are lived in contrast to these negative portrayals. Many men desire to be the backbones of their family, providing a pillar of strength and modeling of love, and some of us even manage to do this.
All of the talk about race serves to distract from what this really is: a heartwarming display of a father’s love for his daughter. I can only hope that when it’s my turn, I will take the time to do what this man has done, though doing a young girl’s hair looks like a daunting, intimidating task. I commend Frank Sommerville and all other men who openly display their fatherly love.
Read more in the Real Fatherhood series.