Obama kicks off his national conversation today about fatherhood at the White House. There's also a CBS Obama interview scheduled for Sunday and an essay in Parade magazine. Obama is not letting up about fatherhood and I don't blame him.  I love Father's Day.  I love reaching out to my dad and expressing gratitude. My father's a generous man.  He's also a thinker, the former manager for Bootsy Collins, and one amazing chef.  We haven't always seen eye to eye and I think that's good for both of us.  Ipso facto, he's got his journey and I have mine.  However, my dad's parenting skills are a reflection of his person, his upbringing, and his own self-reflection.

Which brings me to this:

Sometimes I think the black community spends too much time reminding black men what they're not doing right.  Either they’re giving AIDS to black women, not providing equal compatibility to black women, or not pulling weight in the parenting game.  It's enough to prompt an early heart attack [and I'm not joking].  I love the idea that Obama is having a national discussion about the importance of fathers.  However, I do feel black men need a national discussion about self-empowerment before they can see the importance in anything, including their role with children.  Fatherhood is significant, no doubt.  Black men need to be encouraged to be present in their children's lives as well as compassionate and loving and unconditional.  But the black community can't have a plethora of full-fledged fathers until we get full-fledged men who believe their lives are significant and necessary.


Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.