Letters to a Mixed Race Son, author Frank E. Robinson, Jr. says in the Preface, “A father is powerful. There is such a narrow window of time, and, for better or worse, a father’s presence or absence, his words and his silence, his actions and non-actions, all have profound effect on individuals, the family, community, nation and world, even across generations.” In other words, fathers are important.
With that in mind, Robinson, a minister, began to write letters to his son when he was born. Robinson’s mission to guide his son to adulthood was sometimes complicated by the fact that Robinson, who is white, married a black woman during a time in the South when this was extremely controversial, even dangerous. And, thus, he counsels his son, “Because of the fact that your mother is black and I am white, a tremendous pressure may be put upon you. In terms of racial and social identity, be yourself, both your father’s son and your mother’s son.”
Regardless of race, fatherhood is a universal experience, and Robinson’s advice for his son resonates for all families. He writes about handling criticism, taking responsibility for one’s actions, experiencing financial difficulties, and trusting in God. He shares moving moments, such as the morning when his young son gave him a hug and said, “God gave you to me.” His words remind us to treasure the moments with our children because they “are like beads or pearls that slip through my fingers to the ground.” In reading Letters to a Mixed Race Son, all parents will be inspired to teach their sons (and daughters) to “Be a wise man, a man of character, of value, of worth.” Sure, that is the value of Father’s Day -- and every day in the life of being a father.