A guest post by Dr. Angelle M. Jones
“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
– Psalm 82:3-4 (NIV)
As a racial reconciler and facilitator, one of the most common push backs from the opponents of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) or current social justice movement, is the issue of fatherlessness in the African-American community.
Often contenders of the BLM Movement, will use resistance statements such as “due to the lack of fathers in the home, Black boys resist arrests,” supposedly warranting the many unjust deaths at the hand of White police. As a Black minister serving in majority White churches, like in other spaces, after hearing it for so long, I must admit, I found myself agreeing with my colleagues, that many of the ills in my community just may have been caused by fatherlessness. Truth is, this along with other narratives are often used to deflect from the real root cause of absentee fathers in African-American homes. After years, I realized, I had upheld this belief system for way too long.
Finally, after years of wisdom learned from living, I’m aware that for any effect there must be a cause. Reflection on my own personal journey allowed me to dismantle the untruth. History rejects the myth of fatherlessness being the number one reason for problems in the Black community. To my White Christian brothers and sisters, I have recaptured my Black voice, from now on, I will use my personal story to address the problems that affect my community, and ultimately, my life, in spite of your rejection of Critical Race Theory.
As a poor, fatherless Black girl from the Glenville community, on the East side of Cleveland, OH., as a first-generation college student, I decided to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in African-American Studies. I believe the most important thing I learned from this part of my journey, was that I was of African descent. Why is this so important, you ask? My response, “for those who never have to question their ancestral history, it may not be important.” For those wondering from where, and from whom they came, it becomes one of the most important questions they could ever ask.
Like many others, mine is a story of a girl who doesn’t really know biologically, from where she came. No, I wasn’t adopted, but sixty-three years later, I’m still not sure, who was my biological father. Although I have a speculation, I have nothing to prove it. Truth is, now that all contributing parties are deceased, unless two bodies are exhumed, my patriarchal identity will likely remain a trivia question that may never be answered. Except by God.
Of course, as a child, I never thought much about how his not being around would impact my life. Neither did I think of myself as a statistic. In the same way, I didn’t think about how not knowing my Black history affected me either. In the same way I embraced the father God gave me without knowing if he was really the one from who’s seed, I came, I also embraced that I was a Black American. Unfortunately, unlike immigrants from other countries Blacks didn’t have the same proud ancestral connection with Africa to give me reason to naturally connect.
I do remember however, how learning that Eden, Egypt, the Nile and other rivers mentioned in Scripture, when written, all rested in Northern Africa, finally gave me reason to be proud to be a “Black” Christian. I learned, that as important as slavery is in American history, my ancestral lineage did not begin with the enslavement of Africans. This new narrative was one that made me desire to embrace my Blackness in the same way that learning that God was a defender of the fatherless, helped me to accept the love from the father I called “Daddy.”
The connection between racism in America and fatherlessness goes back to the fact that racism has historically affected every societal structure. Yes, even the idea of fatherlessness stems from the root of racism. It is through the ugly lens of racism that slaves were viewed as inhumane and uncivilized. In so-called Christian missionary theology, the continent of Africa was seen as underdeveloped, filled with non-Christian religious heathen needing to be evangelized spiritually, culturally and nationally. As a result, American history continually portrayed Blacks and especially Black men as unable to learn, lazy, and docile while many were used specifically as sexual breeders. Sadly, these and other stereotypes remain when describing African-American’s in today’s society.
Honestly, I never thought I’d live to see the day when any of the current racist structures in America would be overturned. However, in the short time since this current wave of racial turbulence, the uncomfortable narrative of the history of racist America keeps rearing its ugly head. No matter how much of a Christian, or religious nation we claim to be, our true truth keeps marching on. Fortunately, new curriculum is being provided no longer by Whites telling our stories through their lens, but by those of us penning the stories shared from family historians. Authentic American history is being told.
Even though as in any society, there may have been some lazy members, it is impossible that the majority of Blacks could have been lazy or unable to learn, if so, this country’s buildings and infrastructures, most built from the free labor of male slaves would not still be standing today. This includes the White House as well as the many institutions surviving today as a result of the services of underpaid “essential workers,” many who are Black men. Many who are the missing Black fathers.
I am reminded that God is the ultimate defender of the true history of fatherlessness in America’s Black community. It is the story of missing melanin bodies. Incarcerated Black bodies. Dead Brown bodies. It is not a story Whites can tell. I will tell my story.
“Inspiring and Motivating With the Power of Words”
Angelle originally hails from Cleveland, Ohio. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in African-American studies from the University of Cincinnati. Angelle has a master’s degree in Theological Studies from Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia and an earned Doctorate in Ministry on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, and his philosophy of The Beloved Community from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.
Her ministry career began as a staff member of the Northeastern Ohio Billy Graham Crusade in 1994. For twenty years, as founder and director of In The Spirit Ministries, Inc. she led teams on mission outreaches throughout the world. From 2007-2012 Angelle served as Missions Director of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio where she currently resides. Angelle is founder and director of GlobaLife Coaching and Consulting serving as a Life and Transformation Coach and Church Consultant.
In 2016 Angelle authored and self-published her first book, Happily Never After. Along with sharing words of hope by sharing her writings on her social media platforms, she has been published in Vantage Magazine which is a literary source for faculty, students and alumni of Columbia Theological Seminary, and Ready which is a cutting-edge online magazine addressing current events and trending socially relevant topics for women.
Angelle is the mother of an adult daughter. She is a grandmother and great-grandmother.