We talk a lot here about the importance of boys to have fathers. When I heard that my facebook friend, Frank Robinson (who is a white man married to a black woman) wrote letters to his son since 1988, I was in awe of the level of love and commitment this man had to cultivating a strong, happy and whole child.
Here are two of the letters…
March 2, 1993
Of the many friends that I have made, it seems that only a few can see into the identity struggles and disenfranchisement that I personally wrestle with from time to time. I suspect that your identity struggles will be even deeper than mine, due to your biracial conception. So much of that is my fault.
I have sought to not allow extraction of either ancestry from your perception of yourself. Africans came before you. Europeans and Americans came before you. You are a river, not required to denounce the various streams and creeks that caused your existence. The issues and questions of justice and race relations are so much bigger than I am. This is bigger than me. I want to do the will of God in my generation. I’m unable to go back in time or forward in time. Only in the now can we act.
I surprised you mother the other day. In a conversation we had I said that if I could have somehow prevented slavery by cutting off my right hand, I would do it. She attempted to correct me by saying, “You mean your left hand,” because as a skilled artist, surely my right hand was not meant.
But I would give my right hand. I would give my life. I would die, if that could somehow have prevented slavery and the horrors it inflicted.
Who are my people? The sons and daughters of God, they are my people. Come, take your place with me. You know my heart well enough to know these are not empty words, but truth. Don’t allow the truth to be trivialized by any dilettante, any sloganeer, or any passing fellow.
Come and take your place with me. I am a father who very much loves and treasures his son. You are mine.
March 21, 2011
Sunday before last, I heard, with my own ears you tell me about the birth of your daughter. I cannot tell you how much that means to me. It gives me such a sense of joy and completeness.
When I was six, my mother gathered the children together to tell us she was going to have a baby, and not tell anyone. But at six, I was so excited and happy at the news, her admonition was immediately disregarded. I jumped on my little bicycle and rode around the neighborhood, telling everyone I saw, “My mom’s gonna have a baby!”
The morning you told me of Ember’s birth, I stopped at a gas station on our way to church. I walked in the door, threw up my hands and announced, “My granddaughter was born today!”
You are overseas now, but we anticipate getting to know this precious girl.
I listened as you told me how she is attuned to your voice, that when her eyes were covered as she was being treated for jaundice, you soothed her with your voice. You told me you said things to her like, “We are all here. Everything is OK. You are safe. You are loved. There is nothing to be afraid of. I am right here…”
The proverb tells us, “Children’s children are the crown of old men and the glory of children are their fathers.” I can hear Father God speak to me and to us through your words to your daughter, who cannot yet understand language. She is made to understand love in your presence.
I tried to be a good father, to learn from the flaws and mistakes of my fathers before me. Now I want you to be a great husband, a great father and a great man. Humble is the way.
I love you so much. We are all here. Everything is OK. You are safe. You are loved. There is nothing to be afraid of. I am right here…
This should be essential reading for all of us. You can purchase the compilation of letters on Amazon for $4.99 here.