What comes to mind when you see or hear “The Black Father?” When I see or hear about him, I think of power, greatness, presence, grooming, pivotal, needed, leader, fearful, inspirational, and excellence. When I also hear about the black father, I think of absence, fear, inexperience, wanted, stereotyped, unavailable, and labeled. While it’s so easy to speak negatively about the black father, I wanted to take this time to celebrate him.
In the U.S., “black fatherhood” is often looked at as negative, and according to the CDC, it is often accompanied with the word “crisis.” The CDC goes on to say that though black fathers tend to stay separate from their children, it is stemmed primarily from structural systems of inequality and poverty versus the fact that black men place less value on parenting. Besides, 67 percent of black dads who don’t live with their kids see them at least once a month, compared to 59 percent of white dads and just 32 percent of Hispanic dads (Jones and Williams 2013).
Black fathers are involved and engaged in the lives of their children, and this continues to be supported by research. Research has outlined that black fathers have greater or equal involvement with their children than any other ethnic group. Black fathers are influencing their children’s educational adjustments, their overall competence, and the psychological needs of their children even without being in the home.
During my interview with Troy Spry, husband father, and certified relationship coach, he states, “The black father is growing and evolving. We are moving beyond just being providers and protectors. We are transitioning into nurturer contributors and value partnership in our homes.” He goes on to say, “black fathers want to have a voice in raising their children, we love our children, and we are present and engaged regardless of what the absent father narrative has painted about us.”
Currently, negative social norms about black men are rooted in discords between social identity norms and race, yet talking about these things continue to be taboo for many. Let’s began with moral exclusion. Moral exclusion focuses on who is and who is not entitled to fair outcomes and fair treatment based on an individual’s moral community and is considered the most dangerous from oppression (Jones 2019). The portrayal of black men in the media commonly shows him be arrested, compromised, fighting, beating his spouse, or some other label showing what people perceive as animalistic. It doesn’t show him playing with his children in a park, making dinner for his family because his wife got off late, doing homework, or dropping the kids off for school. So how much does perception play into what the public feels is the reality of the black father? This perception not only impacts how others view the black father but also how he sees himself and shows up in the world today.
Dr. Roger Perkins, an author, professor, father, and husband, states that societal norms force internal questioning and labeling within the black father, such as the perceptions of being dysfunctional or lazy. He goes on to say that this can weigh heavily on black fathers questioning their abilities to provide emotionally and financially for their families. He says, “The black father has to be steadfast in his morals and convictions to stay the course for his children, he cannot waiver in his ideals on social mobility for his children or being an example of success for them to emulate.
Thank you, black fathers, as a woman who did not grow up with her father consistently in her life, I could choose to be upset, tear you down and hold so much anger and resentment, but instead, the excitement and progression in black fatherhood convinces me that generations of children following in your footsteps, receiving your knowledge and growing in your presence are in good hands. I salute you! Thank you, and I love you!
For continued inspiration from our black fathers, check out a few of my favorite IG pages highlighting these amazing men.
@black_father_experience, @bourgiedads, @strongblackfathers @dopeblackdads
Jones, Destiny (2019). Oppression Among African Americans. Retrieved from https://blogs.uml.edu/csp/2019/02/14/oppression-among-african-americans
Jones, Jo. Mosher and Williams, D. (2013) National Health Statistics Reports on Father’s Involvement
With Their Children: United States, 2006-2010. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr071.pdf