Op-Ed

OPINION: This Father’s Day, Let’s Appreciate Real Dads

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Jeremiah Ratliff, Regi Ratliff, Emerson Ratliff and Shawn Ratliff. | Couresy Regi Ratliff

Sunday, June 18, 2017 || By Rev. Dr. Regi Ratiliff || @maywoodnews

Fathers are challenged by society when it comes to receiving accolades as single parents. There are many single fathers in the black community who don’t receive our just due as the main provider of our children. I know. I was a single father at one time.

Society has slowly transitioned from resisting the fact that a father can be a successful single parent to accepting the fact that single fathers are parents too.

I’m insulted by comments made on radio and social media by single women who believe that they are both mother and father. They might as well say that they don’t need a man to raise their children. On the contrary, you don’t often read or hear comments from single fathers about serving a dual role as daddy and mother.

A few years ago, some child support attorney was on a local Chicago radio station promoting her book, “Girl, Get That Child Support.” This book was just another example of some random person exploiting “non-custodial” fathers in the black Community. Just considering the title, I automatically realized what population she was targeting. With such an insulting book against fathers, combined with low sales, it’s no wonder her book is on the market for only $2.

The truth is that if you and your ex-partner have a child together, each of you play only one role. One of you are the mother and only the mother and one of you are the father and only the father. The arrangement is God’s creation.

My dissertation, “An Investigation of the Socioeconomic, Academic and Psychological Impact of Fatherless African American Males,” addresses how damaging fatherlessness is to the African American population.

For proof, just look inside of the prison walls, where many young African American males are shelved for decades. You can even look at the cemeteries, where you will find many young African American males within their final resting place after having died far too young.

Considering how devastating their absence is within the black family, we need to appreciate the black fathers who are present. The names of men who have made a deep impact on my life are too numerous to list them all. There are, however, several men in particular I want to name — starting with my own dad.

My father, Emerson Ratliff, raised a household of five boys and two girls in Maywood. Raised in Mount Olive, Mississippi, my dad moved to Chicago in the early 1960’s with plans of raising a hard-working, Christian family.

My dad made sure all his children were active members at Second Baptist Church, under the leadership of Pastor Wallace W. Sykes. My dad led by example. He worked the night shift at the U.S. Post Office for over 30 years as an engineer.

But my dad still had time to play tennis with neighbors Alonzo Casteel and Raynard Little at Waterworks Park on 9th Avenue during the hot summer months.

I can only remember one time when my dad was late for work. That was the time when he took me to Rush Presbyterian St. Luke Hospital in Chicago after cutting my foot during wrestling practice my senior season at Proviso East. I knew he was upset, because we rode all the way to the hospital in dead silence; however, my dad took one for me and was never late again.

My Dad was very active in my life. He attended my athletic events, most concerts and college graduations. Here are additional men I would like to honor as father figures in my life.

Moses Green, Sr. was a rock in my life. Mr. Green was a great husband, a great father and very active in his children’s life. Mr. Green never complained when I stayed over for dinner, spent a night at his house and welcomed me as his son. He always provided me with insight about life and he always encouraged me to always think positively. I owe Mr. Green a great deal of gratitude for the impact he has made in my life.

I would also like to acknowledge one of my favorite coaches, the late Lawrence McCall, Sr. Mr. McCall was one of the coolest men I’ve ever known and he was a father figure to many people in Maywood.

Mr. McCall was a science teacher, as well as a basketball and softball coach, at Garfield Elementary School. He was also the assistant varsity boys basketball coach at Proviso East High School.

Mr. McCall infused his strong resiliency into each one of his student/athletes. He was a fiery basketball coach and I remembered him calling his favorite play, “Texas,” during games. I believe that was his play for trapping the opposing team on defense. Since Mr. McCall grew up in Texas, I’m sure that’s where the name originated from.

As a small boy at Garfield, Mr. McCall always offered words of encouragement. He encouraged me to always go the extra mile, to never give up on the field and do well in the classroom — do all those things, he said, and I will see the fruits of my labor in due time. 

Many student/athletes from Garfield and Proviso East owe Mr. McCall thanks for his guidance and serving as a father away from home.

Finally, I would like to recognize my father-in-law Chester Raulston. Although I have only known Mr. Raulston for seven years, I would be remised if I didn’t thank him for granting me his blessings to marry his daughter, Monique.

Mr. Raulston is an example of internal strength and perseverance. This strength and perseverance are two key qualities he has instilled in my beautiful wife.

As a single parent of three very active daughters, it takes two qualities, along with God’s grace, to successfully provide for her children without complaining. I commend Mr. Raulston for doing such an outstanding job in raising his daughter. It is an honor and privilege to know a man of such great integrity.

In conclusion, we all must make efforts to celebrate Father’s Day with our dad. Children purposely staying away from their dads must especially strive to show gratitude for all their support and love.

We must pamper our dads by spending the day in a manner they like the most. It could be barbecuing for him or indulging him with a gourmet meal. We can also express love with thoughtful gifts accompanied by a bouquet of his favorite flowers. The idea is to show our affection and tell Dad how much he is loved and appreciated — not just on Father’s Day but every single day of our lives.

Happy Father’s Day!

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One thought on “OPINION: This Father’s Day, Let’s Appreciate Real Dads

  1. I must agree, black man. We don’t have the history of the fathers in the neighborhood anymore. The teachers was a great influence on us, while growing up. Once you look at the schools now, it’s all female teachers in leadership positions. The female teachers is about self, riding new expensive cars trying to up hold a image of success, but our young men is study lacking discipline an focus. Male Teachers use to put fear in you, because the business was to see a man for discipline, not anymore the system change that view. Young men feared men, but respect women. Mr.McCall was a genius, he made great successful men who reached goals. He push education, life skills, focus, discipline, punctual and hardwork. The men in leadership now days, is trying to please a system that is female viewed. The kids are missing out on real leadership an not learning how to stand up for themselves. The females can’t raise a young boy to become a man. Fathers lets look back on history an take on our responsibility. Fathers step up! Love real fathers.

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