It’s more than just hitting me in the childhood.
It’s more than just a great actor has left us.
It’s more than “losing” a fictional character I liked.
It’s like losing yet another father figure.
Uncle Phil reminded me of my own father a lot & seeing dads like him & Cliff Huxtable & countless other Black dads that were present (even if not conventionally through marriage or blood) in their kids’ lives. They were the antithesis to the message that “Black men abandon”. They were support to the Black women in these kids’ lives, they erased the idea that we needed a White saviour to come riding in & fix everything b/c of their magnanimity.
Uncle Phil had three kids of his own, a successful career where he often had to balance the job of being a judge & being black, & he was self-made. He grew up in the struggles, fought to give his kids better, took in a wayward nephew who represented all the things he was supposed to shun in the name of respectability & loved him as if he were his own. No, scratch that. Just as they said in the show, Will was his son. He was a father who would have laid life & limb down for any of them.
& I knew many men like this. The norm in my life was not that “Black men leave”. It was that “Black men were fathers and supporters”. So I am grateful for & to the men who portrayed this, in life & on tv. That’s why it hurts, seeing men like my father, my uncles, & “Uncle Phil” pass.
We lost another one, we lost a good one.