A cake without flour is no cake at all, and definitely not one that will rise.

Today is Father’s Day, which is probably one of the very few holidays that is celebrated worldwide. Just like a cake needs flour to rise (grow) into our full potential, while some people may not have flour (biological father), there are flour substitutes (father figures) that still do the trick.

Last night, in one of the few moments I’ve had on decent wifi during this trip, I saw a Gillette Razor commercial. It was no longer than 5 minutes and featured about 4 different fathers from varying walks of life. They all looked different, spoke languages from French to Spanish to English, and one of these fathers were the same. I can honestly say that it was a beautiful thing to see. However I did notice one detail that damped the entire experience for me.

Can you believe that out of what Gillette chose to have represent diversity in the land of fatherhood, none of the featured fathers were African or African-American. This really disturbed me and got me to thinking about a few things.

As far as our readings go, a lot of what we have read about in regards to men, was mostly focused on their role in business, and major aspects of family life. There was what seemed to be an emphasis on the absence of the father in the home.

In light of always trying to find a way to connect my personal experience to that of which I was seeing in Africa I related to this ‘fact’ probably more than any other aspect of life in Ghana.

I grew up in a single parent home, raised by my mother. Just like many African-American families in the United States it isn’t uncommon for grandparents to have a major role in the life of their grandchildren and this was the case for me. My grandparents were pillars in my growing up process. Where was my father? No where to be found. The major difference? For Africans it wasn’t that the father wasn’t in the house, but he was more like the elephant in the room, you knew he was there and his presence alone was enough to influence your behavior. I can’t say the same for myself, or for thousands of African-American children like me.. my father was never there. He was never there in any aspect of life, physically, emotionally, financially, or otherwise. And it hurt.

Max has become a valuable asset when it comes to learning about life details like the father in the home. Realistically there is only so much that a textbook can teach you about the role fathers play in Ghanaian homes.

The Gillette commercial is yet another example of how capitalism penetrates every facet of our lives. By not having an African or African-American father in this commercial the idea that black children are fatherless is one that is sinks subtly into the subconscious of any of the almost 7,000,000 that watched the commercial.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the fathers out there, and a special wish for the fathers of children of the African dispora. We thank you.

~Kristen Phantazia

“Travel while you’re young and able. Don’t worry about the money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be…”

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