Black Fatherhood is a sight and a feeling to behold. Each time I reflect on the role my father played in our family, I cherish his empowering, inspiring, and creative ways he demonstrated love. He was our champion, provider and way-maker. I believe Black fatherhood is one of the least recognized positive aspects of our community. I’m not soley talking about the most traditional fatherhood roles, but also the fatherly figures that uncles, brothers, cousins all play to bring a unique umbrella of guidance and protection.
Unfortunately, this society is quick to blame and condemn Black men and Black fathers. I find it overdone and without acknowledgment of the other factors that are seeking and almost delighting in his condemnation. Black fathers are too often cast as a character to shoot and blame at close range. Just as I do not believe that Black people are to blame for society’s problems, I also do not think there is any one gender that could carry that burden.
In tribute to Black fatherhood, here is a list of some highly recommended books for fathers of all ages. The categories cover history, perseverance, music, sports and health.
Some of the best advice I’ve ever received is from my father, Irving Bunton. He suggested (a.k.a. strongly encouraged) that I select a career that would be self-sustaining. It was tough to hear from him, but as I reflect on it, it was insightful and practical given the way society is structured to financially award technical degrees. At the time, I was poised to become a musician as he was. I had been playing piano since I was 5 years old. At my high school, I was known for my piano skill, and had won a number of awards and scholarships. I love my father and his model of musicianship had such a deep impression on me. He was a top rated choir director and pianist. For me to mirror his career path was also a tribute to him.
Little did I know, he would suggest other plans for me. I was devasted when he told me and completely surprised. After wiping away my tears, I walked into the counselor’s office and asked about other career choices given “I hate reading.” Can you believe this? Yes, this is true. Even though at this time in my life I’m a bookseller, there was a time I specifically went on record to say I hated reading. This life is full of surprises when you are open to receive them. There’s more to that story, I’ll tell another day. Anyway, Cecil Curtwright, the great, suggested I try majoring in Electrical Engineering, and off I went. I remember the more he emphasized the challenges that others encountered, the more it piqued my interest. When he tried to warn me about the obstacles ahead, it had the opposite effect on me; they charged me up. I was so confident I could do anything I set my mind to. This again is in part because of my beloved upbringing from my parents.
Speeding up the story a bit at this point, let’s flash forward to 2020, days after George Floyd’s murder. In the midst of racial turmoil, a large group of the population decided they were not going to buy from Amazon. This mountain of orders that amassed required Afriware Books, Co which I now am owner, to step up to the technical plate. Not only did I have to hire staff, but I also had to interface with a software developer to integrate the orders with our online distributor. This was the moment I felt all my career twists and turns made sense. My engineering background was needed to interface with a developer about what was needed on the Afriware Books end. I also was able to bring my genius brother Irving Jr. into the fold because of his multi-lingual coding skills. All of this in a stew of African-centered books. It all started to make sense. And I must pause to thank my father for his vision and foresight in making sure I would be prepared for everything.
I have many other stories to share of his prophetic ways, but I’ll just say that he had and still has a profound effect on my life choices. I think we really can’t thank our fathers and mothers enough for preparing us the best way they knew how. The list provided is meant to show our appreciation for them and keep them encouraged to carry on. They are a vital part of our community and we will always need their support and love.