For the past few years I’ve written about all the wonderful fathers in our lives. I have reflected on how my father, Theodore N. Greer, was always there to provide the best opportunities for my sister and me, to support our educational efforts and to even teach us how to make a left handed layup like the boys on the Jordan-era UNC basketball team. My father even convinced my sister and me that we had a “math gene” that made us predisposed to be good at math, solely because our last name was Greer. It wasn’t until AP Calculus my senior year in high school that I realized there was no such thing as a “math gene,” but that is the power of a father giving his daughters confidence at all things from an incredibly young age.
I was recently with my extended family in Miami, Florida for a cousin’s surprise birthday celebration and spent time with my father’s older brother, William Floyd Greer. Spending time with my active octogenarian uncle made me realize just how special uncles are in our lives. So many of us have had uncles who served as the pulse of the family, always ready with a joke, laughter, encouraging words, a few dollars, and/or a listening ear. I have asked my friends about their favorite uncles and immediately a smile creeps across their faces. There is something so special about uncles. In my case, my uncle Floyd has become the patriarch of the family, as well as the keeper of family tales and stories about our grandparents that excite and inform with each telling. He is at once the family historian and the life of the party.
I have been blessed to have grown up with my father, his brothers, and a host of Omega Psi Phi uncles who have been family friends for decades. So many people grow up not knowing their fathers, yet they succeed due to the love and support of family, community members and their favorite uncle. Therefore, on this Father’s Day, I would like to give a special thank you to all of the uncles who serve as backbones of the family, pillars of their communities, watchers of the next generation, and keepers of the family tales.
I am blessed to be able to reflect on yet another Father’s Day with my dad, healthy and present in my life. However, I am doubly blessed to be able to celebrate this holiday with my favorite Uncle Floyd from Chicago. I do hope you will use this time to reach out to the male figures in your life and let them know all of the ways they have influenced and inspired you.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” the co-host of the new podcast FAQ-NYC, and the host of The Aftermath and The Counter on Ozy.com.