The Black Father in My Life by Z

I’m sure you know the stereotype that black men leave their women and are not there for their children.  My story is vastly different.

In 1978, I was a single white mom bringing up Mattie, my biracial daughter, with no dad in the mix.  At that time, I was the female half of that stereotype.  I had rented a flat in San Francisco but needed two roommates to cover the expenses.  My best friend Kate was helping me sort though the people who were interested.  At the time, Kate had a job working as a legal secretary.  She hated lawyers and, for some reason, a bevy of lawyers came by one after the other.  When two prospective roommates showed up who were not lawyers, Kate immediately exclaimed, “These are the ones!”

That’s how it happened that I began living with a white male nurse and a black male music student.  Jamal, the music student, was also a single parent, sharing time with his daughter, Omi, with her mother. 

In due course, our roommate relationship developed into something more, and Jamal and I became a couple.  Mattie adored Jamal and Omi, and the four of us grew into a family.  Once, my babysitter asked me where Mattie had gotten her new red shoes.  When I said that my boyfriend had bought them for her, she said she wished she had a boyfriend who would buy her kids something they needed like that.

Fast forward twenty four years.  Jamal and I had been married for many years by now and we were attending to our first grandchild.  He was watching Omi with her new baby and he said that must be the way he looked at her when she was born.  My heart melted with joy – Yes it must be!

Not all men are created equal – some stay and slog through the messy business of raising children – I was lucky to have found one.

Postscript: Five hundred thousand black fathers are currently incarcerated in our overly incarcerated U.S.  I wonder how many would be fathers like Jamal if they were given the chance?

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