My parents made sure I had dolls of every race when I was kid. One Christmas, my father waited in line all night to get me a black and a white Cabbage Patch Kid. My parents’ commitment to surrounding me with diverse images extended to the art work in our home.
On our living room wall, there were two photos taken by my dad when he was a freedom rider in the Deep South. One was of three poor black children. I used to imagine the kid with the giant eyes had been crying due to hunger. I wondered if the small child’s hair wasn’t combed because his working mother didn’t have time to do it. And, I theorized the third kid was looking for help. I figured my father took the photo because it was an example of the economic disparity and racial oppression in this country. I also suspected it also reminded him of his own impoverished upbringing during segregation.
At times, my father was so hungry, he’d wandered around the woods near his home with his dog and a hatchet while drinking canned milk to feel full. Eventually, he became a computer science professor at NYU and other colleges. Despite this, my father he never forgot about those three kids. Their image also stuck with renowned Black artist Brenda JoySmith. She painted a color rendition of my father’s picture and sold it in the fine arts market. I couldn’t forget them either. I used a second photo of the kids on the cover of my first book, “Dark Recesses.”
I did it because I learned from my daddy that we have an obligation to shine a light on injustice and act to change it. We must also share our stories so they aren’t forgotten.
I thank my dad teaching me what wasn’t shared in school and for making sure I was/am proud of my blackness.
Happy Father’s Day!
#aarpny #love4dad #fathersday #Blackfamily #racism #BlackLivesMatter #FathersAndDaughters #justice #chronicillness #chronicpain #spoonie