First, I hope all American dads had a very happy Father’s Day. My gift was a very nice Army rocking chair from Cracker Barrel!
Sadly, there were some families who missed their dads yesterday due to tragic deaths in the past week. There was Reverend Clementa Pinckney and Daniel Simmons, Sr., in the shooting at Charleston, South Carolina’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Also, New Orleans police officer Daryle Holloway. When the number of black men in the home with their wives and children is down to just 25%, each time a black dad is gunned down, it really hurts. The evil that took these three men from their children cuts far deeper in a black community in dire need of men in the home. It’s a community desperately needing more positive male role models like those that existed 54 years ago when I was born.
The words from victims’ families in Charleston were a testament to the power of faith. Their ability to forgive the racist sociopath — the embodiment of evil and demonic action — was just unbelievable to witness. And I gotta tell y’all, I would’ve been hard-pressed to do such had this cretin taken away my loved ones — especially in the manner in which it was done.
To sit with these Christians at a Wednesday evening bible study for almost an hour — and still decide, after their welcoming him in, to gun them down in cold blood. Let me be honest, I wish the police would’ve just shot him instead of apprehending him. I don’t think a single person in America would’ve blinked an eye. I wish they’d done the same to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Yes, I admit, I have a deep animus for the shooters in Charleston and New Orleans. Why? It’s not just because of the lives they took — it’s because of the lives they’ve affected. They didn’t just take away a life; they took away a lifetime of memories.
As a dad, I’ve missed many of Aubrey and Austen’s life events due to deployments or travel. However, I was always able to see a videotape or hear their voice share the experience. And the girls always knew why I was away. We’ve made the most of our time together. And I’m here for the many moments — like last month’s graduations — still to come in their lives.
But I harbor a special animus toward the murderers from this past week because we need the positive black male role models they took from us. The last thing we need is for more young black children to miss out on having their dad encourage them to greatness — like my dad, Buck West, did for me. This isn’t to devalue other lives lost, but in the black community the impact is exponentially greater when a dad is lost.
No, I’m not focused on Confederate flags and symbology. I’m focused on a more pertinent issue — the decimation of the black family. Furthermore, for the heinous action in Charleston to strike within the black community’s most fundamental institution, the church, was painfully disturbing. That’s why I was so glad to see Sunday church services go on — I’m quite sure the victims would’ve wanted that.
I want to close with a simple observation of irony. The minister referred to Isaiah 54:17 in expressing why it was important for historic Mother Emanuel AME to have church yesterday: “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.” Funny, that’s the same bit of scripture that — as we reported here — earned a young black female U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant a bad conduct discharge because she displayed it and refused to take it down. Funny, huh? The scripture that rallied the faithful at Emanuel AME Church caused a Marine to get an unfavorable discharge. Are we in America just that confused?
Yes, all lives truly matter, but the loss of some lives have a far greater impact — and the lack of dads in homes hearing “Happy Father’s Day” from their children leads to significant residual ramifications and pain for the black community.