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Reclaiming the narrative of fatherhood

It has long been known that a father's presence in the household is important for the positive well-being of families, neighborhoods and youth. Dads who actively participate in the lives of their families provide a source of stability and support. The consequences of such support impact a whole host of outcomes such as academics, and health. Involved fathers are also more likely to engage in positive parenting behaviors like academic intervention1 and constructive discipline.

Promoting responsible fatherhood should be the focus of institutions as well as in society. What happens, however, when there are impediments to both the presence and participation of fathers in the lives of children, particularly Black fathers?

Society often address this question by contending that Black fathers are not adequately present and involved with their families. They push to create policies that encourage marriage among families, particularly Black families, as a way to foster child well-being and success.

Fatherlessness is not defined by living arrangement. Josh Levs’s article, “No, Most Black Kids are not Fatherless” deconstructs the “70% of black children are fatherless” myth. The impact of this superficiality makes its way into policy and law formation, curriculum access and discipline in our education systems, law enforcement profiling and use of force, biases in court-based custody decisions; and many more unknown and unseen implicit ways in which society perceives black males. And, rather than focusing on the root cause of structural, institutional and implicit racialization, violence, poverty and general lack is scapegoated onto the backs of black fathers.

As we approach Father’s Day, when the horrific 70% statistic is utilized so often, I urge our community and leaders to re-speak the narrative.

Lazy, absent, unemployed, dead-beat etc. African American fathers are not at home nor involved in the lives of their children. The solution, therefore, is for black men to return to their responsibilities. These statements are stereotypes, fabrications and completely wrong. Furthermore, the impact of these thoughts is girded in the foundations of American society, from systems of education, to access to employment, to incarceration.

May not seem like much but speaking up and redefining fatherhood especially in our community matters. Efforts to re-educate about black fatherhood, and also brings notice to the men who stand in as genuine, authentic father figures for children who have lost fathers for whatever reasons. When it comes to conceptualizing African American fatherhood, stereotypes and anecdotal experience paired with inflated data to produce a dish that is as superficial as the fraudulent images we see in marketing ads. The dish is consumed, This must stop.

  • If Black fathers are lifted up, Black families will be stronger.

  • Promoting responsible fatherhood is more important now than ever. The world is demanding positive change, and Black fathers need to be at the helm.

It is not enough to discuss Black fatherhood without also understanding the context within which Black men operate. -by Kenneth Braswell.

As Father's Day approaches, the spotlight is on dads. Though some of these viewpoints given by society maybe true and unfortunately some of our youth may have an absent father. Whether biological or not— the fathers , leaders, mentors we celebrate are our coworkers and neighbors, our community organizers and our leaders. They are as near as our local church or school and as prominent as the athletes and stars we see on the television and in the movies.

In our minds eye, these noble reflections should also call to mind the picture of black fatherhood. I believe that mental health care , resources and support around fatherhood and Black men should be offered the same way we offer minorities, women and youth support. While black fathers are an integral part of our culture, they are perhaps, under-celebrated. We honor OUR black father's today and everyday ,because they simply MATTER.

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