Father’s Day is quickly approaching and I can’t help but feel emotional. Hearing about another Black man and father killed by the police has brought about anguish that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
To this day, I haven’t been able to watch the video of George Floyd’s murder because my heart and mental state can’t take it. Every time I hear his name, I think of the little girl who will grow up without her father. A little girl who will one day graduate from school without him, get married without him and have her first child without him by her side.
There are some who believe Black dads aren’t important and continue to perpetuate the stereotype that they aren’t present in their children’s lives. The image of family and fatherhood continues to transform in the media and I want to emphasize that there are SO many wonderful Black fathers—like my own— who raise their children and love them fiercely. I may not have known George Floyd or the relationship he had with his daughter and other children, but I do know that his life mattered and that he was robbed of the opportunity to be a present dad.
So, in honor of Mr. Floyd and all of the amazing Black fathers, I want to highlight a few of my favorite Black TV dads who represented fatherhood in such a positive way:
5. Randall Pearson, This is Us
Randall Pearson, played by Sterling K. Brown, is one of my favorite TV dads because he isn’t afraid to show his emotions. His portrayal of black fatherhood is refreshing and shows that dads can be strong, protective and in touch with their feelings. Randall embodies what it means to deeply care for your children (biological and adopted) and foster an environment where they can freely express themselves and receive valuable resources to excel in life.
4. Bernie Mac, The Bernie Mac Show
As a child, my family and I would tune in every week to watch Uncle Bernie! Although Bernie Mac didn’t have biological children, he stepped in to raise his sister’s three kids and loved them as though they were his own. He showed viewers that it was possible to parent other people's children and have fun doing so.
3. Ray Campbell, Sister, Sister
Similar to Uncle Bernie, Tim Reid’s character, Ray Campbell, didn’t have biological children but adopted Tamera as an infant and became Tia’s father figure in her teenage years. Ray’s serious personality but yet loving disposition landed him in my top five. I admired how much he cared for both Tia and Tamera and spoiled them rotten —the girls and Lisa had him wrapped around their fingers!
2. Uncle Phil, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Uncle Phil, played by James Avery, should actually be tied for number 1. Aside from raising two sons and two daughters, he also raised his sister’s teenage son, Will, and left a huge impact on his life. I will never forget the emotional episode where Will’s dad walked out on him (again) and Uncle Phil stepped in to embrace him. In that moment, Uncle Phil was also embracing the viewers who may have been abandoned by their biological fathers.
1. Carl Winslow, Family Matters
My favorite TV dad of all time is Carl Winslow, played by Reginald VelJohnson! I admired how Carl was a true family man who was faithful to his wife and committed to raising his children to be honest and compassionate people. He even acted as a father figure to their clumsy next door neighbor and one of my all-time favorite TV characters, Urkel. Carl was also a model police officer who worked to serve and protect his community. One of my favorite episodes was when he confronted two prejudiced cops who mistreated his son, Eddie. For that, Carl Winslow will forever have my respect!
Although these are fictitious characters, they showed Black dads in a positive light and I’m so grateful that they were a part of my childhood (and Randall in my adult years).
Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads —and mine— for being such integral parts of their children’s lives! You are loved and appreciated!