George Floyd’s final moments are vividly remembered by his gasping “I can’t breathe” and calling for his deceased mother, an image that might cause some to forget that Floyd wasn’t just a son, but also a father himself. Five children — the youngest just 6 — awake this Father’s Day with a gaping hole in their hearts. Like all of us, Floyd was not a perfect man or father. But he tried and was loved by now grieving children.
They are not unlike many children missing their fathers in their everyday lives.
Indeed, in this historic moment, the banner under which many march goes well beyond police reform.
Much of the criminal justice activism in New York over the last several years has been driven by the injustices the broader legal system visits upon communities of color. Bail reform arose because the inability to meet cash bail often meant a black man kept behind bars awaiting trial couldn’t work, mount a defense or be there for his children.
Even so, fall not into the easy trap of stereotyping all black fathers as being absent. Contra cultural caricature, most live with their children, and they are deeply involved parents.
Barack Obama’s father left when he was young, but he himself grew up to be a doting father to two daughters. And so, among protesters these days can be found many a father with his children, sharing with them the lessons of how change is made.
Happy Father’s Day to them and all.