“Be a father, if not, why bother son
A boy can make ‘em, but a man can raise one.”
In 1991 Ed O.G. said these words in his song “Be a Father to your Child.” As we get ready to celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, we must remember that being a Father means more than just making a child. It means making and raising a child. Teaching a child and protecting a child. It means listening to a child when they need to be heard, exposing them to situations and things that will help them understand and recognize. It means giving them the tools they need to learn and develop into their own person.
It means accepting them even if they choose a path that you haven’t and rejoicing in the fact that they’re happy.
The Shadow League is celebrating Fathers who are raising children to be adults and helping them along their individual paths towards the people that they will become. Earlier our own Rob Parker gave us the story of former Detroit Pistons star and executive Joe Dumars, and his son Jordan. To reunite the “Bad Boys” backcourt, we celebrate his point guard teammate Isiah Thomas, whose son Joshua penned a letter to him, thanking him for being the type of Father that Ed O.G. told us about 24 years ago.
You have always taught us to be thankful for what we have and where we come from. It is essential for me to start by thanking you.
Thank you for teaching me tolerance.
Thank you for introducing me to different races.
Thank you for showing me different cultures.
Thank you for informing me about different genders.
Thank you for always saying you can be anything, but you must be you.
Thank you for teaching me how to dribble and shoot a basketball.
Thank you for teaching me about Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Morris Day and my first love, MUSIC.
Thank you for buying all the video games I could ask for and for being so surprised when you were in them.
Thank you for not getting mad when I crashed your car.
Thank you for allowing me to fall, but always being there to pick me up and nudging me in the right direction.
Thank you for knowing that Indiana University would be a safer LGBT environment for me, even though I wasn’t “out” yet.
Thank you for pointing me in the right direction to speak to my “uncles” frequently whenever I had a question you didn’t have the answer to.
Most of all Dad, thank you for loving your Gay son from the beginning with no prejudice. I know you will say, “well that’s what I am supposed to do.” Although that’s true, I know that many children are not given that same level of love and guidance. Thank you for continuing to champion equality for all. “You should not find confidence outside of your mirror,” said Pharrell Williams, so thank you Dad for teaching me how to find my true authentic and confident self. I love you.
Joshua “Zeke” Thomas